Under Pennsylvania law, people convicted of DUI offenses face more severe penalties if it is their second or subsequent DUI conviction. While this has long been the case, the Pennsylvania Motor Vehicle Code was recently amended to increase the penalties imposed on repeat DUI offenders. Known as Deana’s Law, the amendment was signed into law in July 2022 but did not go into effect until November 2022. If you are charged with a second or subsequent DUI offense, it is important to know what penalties you may face if you are convicted, and you should speak to a Pennsylvania DUI defense lawyer as soon as possible.
Changes to the DUI Provisions of the Pennsylvania Motor Vehicle Code
Act 59 of 2022, sometimes referred to as Deanna’s law, amended section 3803 of the Pennsylvania Vehicle Code to increase the grading of certain DUI offenses, subsequently allowing for the imposition of greater penalties for such violations. Act 59 of 2022 was named Deanna’s law in honor of Deana DeRosa Eckman of Delaware County, who was killed by an intoxicated motorist with six prior DUI convictions.
Pursuant to the modifications, the following offenses will be charged as a felony of the third degree if the defendant has two prior DUI convictions and a felony of the second degree if the defendant has three or more DUI offenses: DUI general impairment, if the defendant refused to submit to a breath or chemical test; DUI with a BAC of .16 or higher; and, DUI involving controlled substances. Notably, Felonies of the third degree are punishable by up to seven years in prison, and felonies of the second degree are punishable by up to ten years in prison.
Act 59 also modified provisions of Section 3803 of the Pennsylvania Motor regarding the manner in which sentences must be served. Specifically, the law now states that if a court imposes a sentence on a person for a DUI conviction, and the person has two or more prior DUI convictions, the sentence must be served consecutively to any other sentence the court imposes, or the individual is currently serving. There is an exception for violations that, by law, must be merged. The modifications also allow for sentencing enhancements in matters in which the defendant has four or more prior DUI convictions. Finally, Act 59 modified the penalties for DUI crimes graded as felonies of the second degree to include an 18-month suspension of driving privileges.
Talk to a Dedicated Pennsylvania DUI Defense Attorney
People convicted of a second or subsequent DUI offense in Pennsylvania may be sentenced to imprisonment and may have to pay significant fines. Thus, if you are charged with a second or subsequent DUI offense, it is critical that you retain an attorney that will mount a compelling defense on your behalf. Zachary B. Cooper is a dedicated Pennsylvania DUI defense lawyer who can assess the facts of your case and advise you of your options for pursuing the best legal outcome available. You can contact Mr. Cooper through the form online or at (215) 542-0800 to set up a meeting.