New Changes to Pennsylvania DUI (Driving Under the Influence) Law

On May 8, 2012, a new section was added to the Pennsylvania DUI Law. The
new section will become effective on July 6, 2012. As most people know, DUI Laws in
Pennsylvania are based upon a graduated penalty system. Under this system, the penalties
increase based upon the number of prior DUI’s and the level of alcohol or amount of drugs
found in the driver’s blood. This month the Legislature has increased the penalties based
upon another factor: the age of an occupant in the vehicle.

By placing the change in the grading section of the DUI law instead of the actual DUI
section, the mainstream media has not focused on the significance of this change. Newly
enacted 75 Pa.C.S.A sec 3803 (b)(5) provides that an individual who violates the DUI section
when a minor under the age of 18 years of age was an occupant in the vehicle commits a
misdemeanor of the first degree. This is a huge change, as it applies to all DUI’s regardless
of the number of priors or the blood alcohol level. It will significantly increase the period of
supervision for first time offenders.

The penalty provision of the DUI Law was also amended to provide that anyone
found to have violated the minor occupant provision of the law will be subject to additional
penalties. In addition to any other penalties imposed by law, a first time offender must pay
increased fines of at least $1,000 and complete 100 hours of community service. For a second
offense, the fine increases to an additional $2,500 and undergo additional imprisonment of
not less than 30 days nor more than 6 months. For a third offense the penalties increase to a
minimum of 6 months in jail.

The wording of the new statute is unclear whether the increased penalties apply
to multiple offenses of the new law regarding DUI’s with minors in the vehicle, or whether
a prior DUI coupled with a new DUI with a minor in the car will subject you to the new
penalties.

If you, a friend, or loved one has been charged with DUI, it is essential that the
attorney is up to date on all changes and nuances in the law. I assure you that I am up to
date with the laws in this area. If you have any questions regarding this new law, how it will
affect your case, or if you want to discuss your DUI charges, contact James W. Flood at 610-
945-9456 or jwf@jimfloodlaw.com

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