PA increases penalties for DUI offenses

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) recently announced that a new Pennsylvania law has increased the penalties for certain DUI offenses.

Act 59 of 2022, known as “Deana’s Law,” requires consecutive sentencing for certain repeat DUI offenders, and imposes an 18-month driving privilege suspension for a DUI felony conviction of the second degree.

Under the new law, an individual charged with DUI who has prior offenses and 1) refuses a breath or chemical test, 2) has a BAC of .16 or higher, or 3) is using controlled substances commits:

  • A felony of the third-degree for two prior offenses (previously two or more prior offenses); and
  • A felony of the second-degree for three or more prior offenses (previously a third-degree felony).

PennDOT’s announcement noted that a felony of the third degree has a maximum prison term of seven years, and a felony of the second degree has a maximum term of 10 years.

“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,” PennDOT Secretary Yassmin Gramian said. “Repeating these offenses puts others at risk and these law changes reflect the severity of these acts to make our roads safer.”

Under the new law, a sentence imposed on a DUI offender who has two or more prior offenses is served consecutively with any additional sentences, and a sentencing enhancement 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,” Major Robert Krol, director of the Pennsylvania State Police Bureau of Patrol, said. “This law enhances penalties for those individuals, and hopefully they will think twice before reoffending.”

To read PennDOT’s official announcement, you can click here. For more information on the law change, you can visit the Driver and Vehicle Services website.