December 07, 2013 /24-7PressRelease/
-- People who have been convicted of driving under the influence in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, know that the consequences can be steep. For repeat DUI
offenders, sanctions are especially harsh, and a Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court recently upheld those penalties. It is crucial that drivers in Pennsylvania -- especially those with at least one DUI conviction on their records -- understand the relevant regulations for repeat DUI offenders.
No exceptions for repeat offenders
The recent court case involved a woman whose license was suspended after she was convicted of three DUIs in a six-week period, according to Pennsylvania's Patriot News. The convictions occurred when the woman was taking medication and trying to recover from a recent ordeal of being kidnapped and abused. The woman appealed the convictions upon learning that her license would be suspended for five years; she asserted that when she entered her pleas of no contest or guilty, no one warned her about the suspension.
A Cumberland County judge heard the woman's unusual case and overturned the suspension. However, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation appealed his decision. A Commonwealth Court judge found that the license suspension was valid, because there is no legal requirement that people be notified about the suspension when they are entering pleas in DUI cases.
Although atypical, this case underscores the fact that DUI convictions are taken seriously in the state of Pennsylvania. Even in special circumstances, exceptions cannot be made for people who are facing license suspension
or revocation. The Commonwealth Court judge held that factors outside of the woman's special circumstances -- namely, the danger that she might have posed to other drivers on the road -- had to be taken into account and weighed heavily.
DUI in Pennsylvania
The statistics support this kind of strict approach to DUI penalties. Mothers Against Drunk Driving reports the following facts about Pennsylvania DUIs in 2011:
- Drunk driving fatalities constituted 32 percent -- or nearly 1 in 3 -- of motor vehicle fatalities.
- A total of 407 people died in crashes involving alcohol.
- A total of 8,471 people were injured in alcohol-related crashes.
- Altogether there were 11,805 crashes involving a driver with alcohol in his or her system.
The reasoning behind DUI penalties is clear, but these penalties can be steep even for first-time offenders. Fines, jail time and installation of an ignition interlock device are all possibilities. For repeat offenders, even those with relatively low blood-alcohol levels, the sanctions increase significantly; jail time and fines can be as high as 5 years and $10,000. For third-time offenders with a blood-alcohol level above .16, minimum fines and jail time are 1 year and $2,500.
Considering these consequences, anyone who has been arrested for DUI in Pennsylvania should speak with an attorney as soon as possible. An attorney can evaluate the strengths of an individual's case and may be able to win a more favorable outcome.
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