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Pennsylvania drivers who have had multiple DUIs and/or caused a DUI-related death are now facing harsher criminal penalties thanks to a new law that went into effect just before Christmas.

Third DUI offenses that involve a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .16 or higher, which is double the legal limit, will be considered felonies rather than misdemeanors. So will all fourth DUI offenses.

Further, any repeat DUI offender found guilty of homicide by DUI will have a potential minimum sentence of five years. They will face a minimum of seven years behind bars if they’ve had at least two previous DUI convictions. That number is up from the previous three-year minimum.

Those convicted of a driving-related offense while their license was suspended for a DUI will also face harsher penalties.

Pennsylvania has been considered among the laxest states in the country when it comes to DUI laws. While over 50,000 people are arrested for DUI-related offenses every year, first-time offenders may be eligible for Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD) programs. By completing one of these programs, a person can get their charge dismissed.

While the number of DUI-related crashes has dropped in recent years, some state legislators and anti-drunk driving advocates have been working to lower these numbers further. They tout the new law as a victory.

This time of year, unfortunately, is one of the worst for drunk driving-related accidents. Pennsylvania law enforcement officers are out in force to spot and apprehend impaired drivers. If you’ve been arrested for DUI, even if it’s your first time, it’s essential to take the matter seriously and seek legal guidance. Please contact the Quinn Law Firm at 814-833-2222 for a FREE consultation regarding your case.