Efforts to implement tougher sentencing standards for repeat DUI offenders have increased across the country, and a law proposed in Pennsylvania would lead to additional and very serious consequences for those with multiple DUI convictions. Deana’s Law, which recently passed the Pennsylvania Senate, would significantly change how DUI offenses are handled by the state’s legal system.

Whether it’s you first DUI or you’ve had prior convictions, you need an experienced DUI lawyer working for you. In Chester County, and the surrounding areas, trust Skinner Law to find the best possible outcome. Call (610) 436-1410 for a free consultation.

Tragedy Led to Deana’s Law in PA

On February 16, 2019, Deana Eckman of Delaware County died in a head-on collision, leaving her husband injured. The other driver has since been convicted of his sixth DUI. He also pled guilty to third-degree murder, homicide by vehicle, and several other charges.

As a result of Eckman’s death, legislators stepped up efforts to penalize repeat DUI offenders.

How It Would Change PA DUI Sentencing

Several of the changes proposed in Deana’s Law would enhance sentencing standards, including:

  • Longer jail sentences for those with three or more DUI convictions. A fourth conviction would lead to a sentence of five to ten years, as opposed to the current sentence range of 3.5 to 7 years. After five or more DUI convictions, offenders would be sentenced to 10 to 20 years, instead of 2.5 to 7 years.
  • Serving sentences consecutively instead of concurrently. Under current Pennsylvania law, those with multiple offenses can serve their sentences concurrently. Deana’s Law would require that sentences be served consecutively after a third DUI conviction. A family member of Eckman notes that if this requirement had been in place at the time of the crash, the other driver would have still been in jail.

Other Changes Under Deana’s Law

There are several other components of Deana’s Law. These elements make it more difficult for repeat offenders consume alcohol against court directives:

  • Continuous alcohol monitoring devices. People arrested for a third or subsequent DUI would have to be fitted with a continuous alcohol monitoring (CAM) device. This device automatically notifies a monitoring agency if a wearer consumes alcohol when a court directive requires them to abstain. This requirement would hopefully allow law enforcement to intervene before a repeat offender gets behind the wheel again after drinking.
  • Ignition interlock devices. The law would double the time that repeat offenders must have ignition interlock devices installed in their vehicles.
  • DUI courts. PennDOT, state police, and the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts would create recommendations for DUI courts to be used throughout the state.

What Comes Next

Senate Bill 773, which is named for Deana Eckman’s birth month and year, passed the Senate on a 43-6 vote. It will now move to the House of Representatives, where it has been referred to the Transportation Committee. Although the family’s goal was to have the bill become law by the first anniversary of Eckman’s death, they hope that it will keep repeat offenders off the road.

Arrested for a DUI? Call Skinner Law

As DUI laws become stricter across Pennsylvania, it is likely that even those on their first or second DUI arrest will be affected. Choosing to represent yourself after a DUI leaves you open to longer jail sentences, higher fines, and a great loss of freedom. It is crucial to work with a local DUI attorney in your area as soon as possible after your arrest.

In and around Chester County, PA, contact Skinner Law Firm online or call (610) 436-1410.

Article Author

Michael J. Skinner, the founder of Skinner Law Firm LLC, is a former prosecutor with the Chester County District Attorney’s Office.

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