Pennsylvania Senators have approved a bill that will toughen DUI penalties for repeat offenders with overwhelming support. The final passage (reconsidered) of SB 961 received 45 votes in favor of the bill with only four nays and one no vote. The bill now goes to the House of Representatives for consideration. If the bill passes, the potential penalties for repeat DUI offenders in Pennsylvania will become significantly more severe.
How Will the Rafferty Bill Change Current DUI Laws in Pennsylvania?
The bill was sponsored by Sen. John C. Rafferty, Jr. (R-44), chair of the Senate Transportation Committee. If the House passes the legislation without revisions, many of the DUI charges for repeat offenders would become felonies under Pennsylvania DUI laws. Changing DUI crimes to felonies for some offenses would be the first time the state has had a felony DUI charge on the books.
Some of the highlights of SB 961 include:
- Increase the penalties for a second DUI conviction of driving under suspension or without a valid driver’s license to a fine of $1,000 and 90 days in jail. If an offender is found guilty of this DUI charge for the third time, the fine increases to $2,500 and the minimum jail time is increased to six months.
- The charge for a third-offense DUI with a BAC of .16 or higher would become a felony criminal charge. Felony criminal charges would also apply to all fourth DUI offenses and second or subsequent DUI offenses when the driver unintentionally causes the death of another person while driving under the influence. Also, repeat DUI offenders could also face a felony charge for refusing a chemical BAC test or a breathalyzer.
- The minimum prison sentence for a conviction of drunk driving that results in the unintentional death of another person would also increase. For drivers with a prior DUI, the minimum prison sentence would increase to five years. For offenders with two or more prior DUI convictions, the minimum prison sentence increases to seven years.
- Adult drivers who are supervising a driver who only has a learners permit would be prohibited from being impaired to the point where the adult driver could be a danger to himself or others.
Defending Against DUI Charges under the Rafferty Bill
If the new DUI laws are enacted, drivers must understand that they could face substantially increased penalties for subsequent DUI offenses and DUI accidents that result in the death of another person. Because of the life-altering consequences that a driver may face, seeking experienced legal representation will become even more critical for repeat DUI offenders. A skilled Erie DUI attorney can help develop a defense strategy that might help a person avoid the most severe of DUI penalties.
If you are facing a DUI charge, you should take the matter very seriously, even if this is your first DUI offense. Pennsylvania prosecutors aggressively pursue DUI cases, and you may find that the punishments for a DUI conviction have several negative consequences that impair your life in many ways.
Call Now for a FREE DUI Defense Consultation with an Erie Criminal Defense Lawyer
Our Erie DUI defense attorney has extensive knowledge of DUI laws in Pennsylvania and how DUI cases are prosecuted. This knowledge combined with his skill as a trained negotiator and successful trial litigator can give you the advantage you need as you fight repeat DUI offenses.