A lot of politics surround the issue of DUI in PA. There are many powerful lobbies like MADD and the Pennsylvania DUI Association that are pushing for harsher penalties for DUI and have even proposed some legislation that, in essence, assumes that a suspect is guilty before they have had a chance in court. I have blogged before about the presumption of guilt in DUI cases in DUI Hypocrisy: Guilty Before Being Proven Innocent.
One of the hottest issues is the PA DUI Laws for repeat offenders. Currently, if a person is arrested for a second DUI offense while the legal proceedings for the first trial are still ongoing, the suspect is charged with another first DUI offense. This is in keeping with our Founding Father’s notion of the presumption of innocence. MADD and other lobbies are pushing Pennsylvania legislators to enact new laws allowing police to charge such a suspect with a second DUI offense even before the first case is concluded. You can read about this in the article: Tougher penalties pushed for repeat Pennsylvania drunk drivers
Other proposals include making repeat DUI offenses a felony which would significantly increase the penalties for a DUI as well as truly ,make a lifelong impact.
Theses types of proposals are based on emotions and sentiment rather than facts and science. If looked at critically, it is apparent that increased penalties are not an effective deterrent for criminal offenses, especially when dealing with crimes related to drug and alcohol abuse. Currently, under Pennsylvania DUI laws, a third DUI offense at the highest rate carries up to five years in prison and an 18 month license suspension if there is a conviction. These are very severe consequences and if someone is still committing DUI violations after that, then this is indication of an addiction or other problem that cannot be deterred by harsher penalties. Better treatment and rehabilitation options would be much more successful in stopping repeat offenders rather than harsher penalties.