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Senate bill would increase penalties for repeat DUI offenders

With Memorial Day weekend coming up, Pennsylvanians may be looking forward to cook-outs and parties celebrating the unofficial start of summer. This holiday is also a time when many people choose to relax with their favorite drink. However, police will be on high alert that weekend for those they believe are driving under the influence. And, if one recent Senate bill is passed, it could mean stiffer penalties for those convicted of DUI.

The Pennsylvania Senate passed a bill last month that would increase penalties for those with repeat DUI convictions. Under Senate Bill 961, if an individual receives a third conviction of DUI with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.16 or above, that will be penalized as a felony. Also, if an individual receives a conviction for a fourth DUI, refuses to submit to a breath test or is convicted of drugged driving, it will be penalized as a felony. The bill also institutes mandatory jail time if an individual unintentionally kills another individual due to a second or subsequent incident of drunk driving. The sentence will go up from three years to seven years in such incidents. The House of Representatives has yet to vote on this bill.

Proponents of this bill claim drunk drivers need to be held more accountable for their actions. However, it does beg the question of whether these penalties are too harsh. This could be especially important, since a DUI conviction will go on a person's criminal record. Therefore, it could be accessed by anyone performing a background check. And having a felony appear on one's criminal record could limit one's employment and housing opportunities, making it more difficult for a person to regain the life they once had prior to being convicted.

No one wants a DUI charge to mar their future, so anyone accused of such a crime will want to develop a strong DUI defense strategy. With the right help, it is possible to fight these charges and avoid the harsh penalties associated with them.

Source: mychesco.com, "Senate Passes Rafferty Bill To Increase Penalties for Repeat DUI Offenders," April 19, 2018

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