As the end of the semester nears and Pennsylvania college students begin attending graduation parties and likely consuming alcohol, some may find themselves in trouble with the law. Unfortunately, some students may make the unwise decision to attempt to operate a vehicle with alcohol in their system. In the moment, they may not contemplate the potential consequences that may await them if they are formally charged with a DUI. Current consequences for drunk driving in Pennsylvania are less severe than in other states, but state lawmakers are considering stricter laws and harsher penalties.
State lawmakers and families that have lost loved ones as a result of an intoxicated motorist are behind the drive to pass several laws that will increase the consequences for DUIs. In the last couple of years, lawmakers were able to pass a law requiring first time offenders to use an ignition interlock device while driving. Advocates for harsher penalties are hopeful that if the current new bills are enacted, they will result in decreased drunk driving.
Currently, the minimum jail sentence for a third offense DUI is 10 days. The new proposed laws hope to increase the jail time up to two years and increase the fines up to $15,000. Proposed changes also included classifying a third offense DUI or a DUI that results in a homicide as a felony instead of misdemeanor.
A college student may consider the current laws and consequences of drunk driving to be minor and inconsequential to his or her future. The opposite is true, as criminal charges of any nature can have a negative impact on a person's future graduate school, employment and even rental applications. If the new laws are passed, the consequences on a student's present and future may increase significantly. Due to expected changes to the laws in the near future, any student charged with a DUI would benefit from speaking with an experienced criminal attorney in Pennsylvania. An attorney can advise students of the current laws, consequences and their best defense strategy for the charges they face.
Source: lancasteronline.com, "Stricter DUI laws get another push in Pennsylvania", Sam Janesch, April 24, 2017