Before 2016, Pennsylvania was known for its strict and confusing liquor laws. Residents of the Keystone State likely remember when stocking up for a party was essentially a video game quest of bouncing between distributors, bars, and state-run Fine Wine & Good Spirits stores. All this changed when the General Assembly passed three new liquor reform bills for the first time since the Prohibition era.
While the state’s restrictive liquor laws were updated in 2016, the same can’t be said for its DUI laws. In fact, Pennsylvania is comparatively lenient when it comes to prosecuting intoxicated drivers. Most first-time offenders can get their charges dismissed if they complete an Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition program. Arizona, on the other hand, sends first-time offenders to jail.
In response to rising traffic fatality rates, state lawmakers and Pennsylvania Parents Against Impaired Driving began advocating for harsher DUI penalties. Due to their combined efforts, a new state law, Act 153, went into effect on December 23, 2018. This new law targets repeat offenders who account for 40% of all alcohol-related traffic collisions in Pennsylvania. While DUI offenses were treated as misdemeanors in the past, an impaired driver could now face serious felony charges for getting behind the wheel.
It’s important for every driver to have a thorough understanding of their state’s traffic and DUI laws. These are the new changes signed into law by Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf:
- Felony penalties for a third-time DUI conviction within a 10-year period and a BAC of at least 0.16
- Felony penalties for a fourth DUI conviction
- Increased penalties for homicide by vehicle while driving under the influence
- Increased penalties for driving while under a DUI-related license suspension
- Increased penalties for driving with a revoked license caused by a DUI
The penalties for a felony conviction can vary depending on a defendant’s prior DUI history. Per the new law, a felony conviction can lead to jail time, exorbitant fines, license suspension, and any other penalties as determined by the court. Any arrests, charges, and convictions will also remain on an offender’s criminal record, impacting their ability to pursue employment and housing opportunities in the future.
Protect Your Future
If you require legal representation or have concerns about this new law, contact the trial-tested Scranton DUI attorney at the Law Offices of William D. Thompson. Our experienced legal team has a comprehensive understanding of state and federal DUI laws. As a law firm, we take pride in staying up-to-date on important legislative changes. Armed with this knowledge, our skilled litigators can effectively defend any clients facing a wide-range of DUI charges, including first-time DUI, multiple DUI, underage DUI, and even homicide DUI.