Driving under the influence in Pennsylvania carries tougher penalties now that the state’s governor has signed a bill into law. A felony charge for some third offenses and an increased prison sentence for DUI-related vehicular homicide are just some of the changes that have been made.
Under the new law, a third offense with a BAC of .16 percent or higher is a felony offense, which means that a conviction can bring tougher penalties than a third offense with that BAC level did previously. The law also includes stiffer penalties for driving with a suspended license, and prohibition of being intoxicated while being the passenger of a driver with a learner’s permit.
Some state residents who spoke to news media about the changes said they see it as being a good thing. Others suggested other ways in which the state could help to curb the problem of DUI. One resident who had previously lived in Ohio said that Pennsylvania could adopt license plates that single out drivers who have been convicted of DUI like her former home state does. Another person said that an increase in the availability of ride-sharing programs like Uber and Lyft could help drunk drivers stay off the roads.
Pennsylvania law recognizes three levels of alcohol impairment while driving. A BAC of .08 to .099 percent is considered general impairment. High BAC is from .1 percent to .159 percent and can result in a prison term of up to six months upon conviction. Highest BAC is .16 percent or higher. Failing a breath or chemical test after a drunk driving stop does not mean automatic guilt, however. A strong defense could be built against a DUI charge even if a test showed a BAC above the legal limit.