Nov. 30-The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation announced Tuesday that a new state law has changed the grading of certain offenses for driving under the influence, adding more stringent penalties for repeat violations.
"This law makes significant changes to existing law that will ultimately increase the protection of all drivers by keeping repeat offenders from continuing to operate a vehicle while impaired by drugs or alcohol after being charged with a DUI," said PennDOT Secretary Yassmin Gramian. "Repeating these offenses puts others at risk, and these law changes reflect the severity of these acts to make our roads safer."
The legislation created Act 59 of 2022 - referred to as "Deana's Law" - which amends the Pennsylvania Vehicle Code by increasing the grading for certain DUI offenses, requiring consecutive sentencing for certain repeat DUI offenders and imposing an 18-month driving-privilege suspension for a DUI conviction graded as a second-degree felony.
Under the new law, individuals with prior DUI offenses who are then charged with DUI and either refuse a breath or chemical test, test with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.16 or higher or are charged with DUI involving controlled substances will now face stiffer felony charges.
The changes include:
-A third-degree felony for those with two prior offenses (previously two or more prior offenses), punishable by a maximum 7-year prison term.
-A second-degree felony for three or more prior offenses (previously a third-degree felony), punishable by a 10-year maximum prison term.
Another change under this law is that a DUI offence imposed on an individual who has two or more prior offenses will now be served consecutively to any other sentence the individual is serving or any other sentence imposed by the court, except for violations that are required to be merged.
In addition, the law provides for increased sentencing in cases where an individual has four or more prior DUI offenses.
"Driving impaired puts everyone at risk, and repeat offenders disregard the risk they pose every time they get behind the wheel impaired," said Major Robert Krol, director of the Pennsylvania State Police Bureau of Patrol. "This law enhances penalties for those individuals, and hopefully they will think twice before reoffending."
For more information on this law change, please visit PennDOT's Driver and Vehicle Services website.