Halloween has passed and before we know it, Thanksgiving and even Christmas will be here. All of these holidays make this time of year one of celebration. Many people will go to parties where alcohol is served. Of course, most people drink responsibly. However, even responsible motorists could still be accused of driving under the influence of alcohol, and newly enacted legislation has increased the potential penalties those accused of DUI may face.
Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf recently signed into law a piece of legislation that would impose harsher penalties on those who are convicted of DUI. Prior to this legislation, a person's third DUI conviction was a misdemeanor offense. Now, a third DUI will be prosecuted as a felony crime. In addition, prior to this legislation, those convicted of vehicular homicide while DUI would be imprisoned for three years. Now that prison term has been lengthened to five years.
While it is hoped that these new laws will deter drunk driving, some residents have pointed out that certain areas of the Commonwealth do not have share-riding services such as Uber or Lyft that would make it easier for people to get home after having a drink at a party or bar. Police have noted that as the holidays approach, they will see more drunk drivers. It is recommended that having a designated driver is a safe way to get home after drinking.
With these harsher penalties in place, it is more important than ever that motorists in Pennsylvania are not convicted of DUI. Fighting such charges can be difficult and will require a strong DUI defense strategy and professional counsel.
Depending on the circumstances of the case, it may be possible to argue that the traffic stop was unlawful or that breathe tests or field sobriety tests were improperly administered. These arguments will depend on the facts of the accused's specific case, meaning that no two cases are the same. To develop an effective defense strategy that fits your unique circumstances, it may be necessary to consult with a legal professional.