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Repeat offender bill approved by Pennsylvania House

According to a Pennsylvania lawmaker, approximately one-third of drunk drivers who are taken into custody or convicted on a DUI charge are repeat offenders. Data from Pennsylvania Parents Against Impaired Driving shows that 40 percent of drunk driving fatalities are caused by repeat DUI offenders. A bill to increase penalties for drunk driving passed the state Senate 45-4. If it ultimately becomes law, it would make it a felony to have four or more DUI convictions within 10 years.

This would drop to the third conviction if a driver had a blood alcohol content of .16 or higher in that case. Those who kill a person while operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol could also see increased penalties if convicted. If a person has been convicted of a prior DUI, he or she would receive a minimum sentence of five years, and that would increase to seven years if a defendant had two prior DUI convictions.

Currently, those who kill a person while impaired or drunk receive three years behind bars. Drivers who operate a motor vehicle while their license is suspended could also face increased consequences for their actions. According to PAPAID, the legislation would improve DUI laws in the state that often don't distinguish between first-time offenders and those who have broken the law multiple times.

In addition to jail or prison time, a driver convicted of a DUI could face penalties such as a license suspension. An attorney may be able to review a case and help create a defense that may allow a driver to obtain a favorable resolution in such a case. This may be done by asserting that a Breathalyzer test was performed inaccurately.

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