Under a new Pennsylvania law, repeated D.U.I offenders now face stricter penalties.
This past July, Act 59 of 2022 was signed into law changing the grading of certain offenses for those driving under the influence.
The new law is also known as “Deana’s Law” a woman who lost her life because of a drunk driver in 2019.
D.U.I homicide victim, Deana DeRosa Eckman of Delaware County was killed on February 16th, 2019 after David Strowhouer – who already was previously convicted of five D.U.I’s – crossed a double yellow line killing Deana in a head-on-collision.
“If it was under the new guidelines, the driver that hit and killed her would of actually still be in prison,” said Corporal Brent Miller, a P.S.P Public Information Officer.
Governor Wolf signed Act 59 of 2022 in July and it went into effect earlier this month with stricter penalties.
Under the new law, Corporal Brent Miller says repeat offenders found under the influence or who refuse to provide a breath or blood test will be charged the highest rate for a D.U.I
“It is now a felony of the third degree for two prior offenses as well as it’s now a felony of the second degree for three or more prior offenses,”
Corporal Miller adds, a felony of the third degree is no more than seven years in prison and a felony of the second degree is no more than 10 years in prison, “so we’re looking at a lot of prison time that can be imposed by the court systems”.
Pennsylvania State Police have a zero-tolerance policy for those found driving under the influence and Corporal Miller says, “Just this past thanksgiving holiday, the state police arrested 539 individuals who were driving under the influence of either alcohol or alcoholic controlled substances or even controlled substances”.
D.U.I’s are preventable and Corporal Miller stresses, “they really need to think twice before getting behind the wheel if you have already been convicted of a D.U.I and if you’re under the influence of anything, it’s never a good idea to get behind the wheel of any vehicle”.
There are ways to prevent driving under the influence such as ride-share programs, using a designated driver or even by calling a taxi.