PA Strengthens DUI Penalties

Recently, the Pennsylvania General Assembly again modified the DUI law to strengthen penalties for repeat offenders.  You can view the text of the bill here.

This bill accomplishes two things that we’ve addressed in prior postings.  One is closing the Musau loophole, which allowed folks who refused chemical testing on their second DUI to receive no more than a six-month maximum sentence, instead of the typical five-year maximum that applies to a first-degree misdemeanor.

The other topic the bill addressed is how prior offenses are calculated.  Previously, it was possible to have multiple first or second offenses, meaning that if someone got two DUIs within a week of each other, he would be sentenced on two first offense DUIs as opposed to a first offense and a second offense.  Many viewed that calculation method as rehabilitation focused since it withheld enhanced penalties until after the offender had a chance to go through treatment.

The General Assembly amended the statute to eliminate the possibility of multiple first or second offenses.  Now if someone gets DUIs close together, he is looking at a first offense and a second offense.  From a practical standpoint, this means more mandatory jail time and longer license suspensions.

The bill did not address ignition interlock expansion despite previous discussion on the topic.