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House of Representatives
Session of 2017 - 2018 Regular Session


Posted: January 12, 2017 02:34 PM
From: Representative Angel Cruz
To: All House members
Subject: Preventing Drivers from Returning to their Vehicle Immediately After a D.U.I. Arrest (Former HB 399)
In the near future, I will be reintroducing legislation that would deter individuals who have been arrested for D.U.I. from returning to and driving their vehicle while they are still under the influence.

On July 22, 2000, New Jersey made national headlines when Navy Ensign John R. Elliott was killed in a head-on collision with a vehicle whose driver had been charged with drunk driving earlier that night. The drunk driver had been arrested for driving with a blood content of more than twice the state’s legal limit. He was taken to the state police barracks and released when a friend came to pick him up.

Three hours later, driving the same vehicle in which he had earlier been arrested for D.W.I., he crossed the center line on U.S. 40 and struck Elliott’s car, killing both men at the scene. The friend who picked the drunk driver up from the barracks was later charged with manslaughter, vehicular homicide, and aggravated assault because police identified him as an accomplice to the accident.

In response to this senseless tragedy, New Jersey lawmakers passed legislation requiring police to seize the vehicles of suspected drunk drivers and hold them for up to 12 hours. Pennsylvania currently has no such law ensuring that those arrested for D.U.I. cannot return to their vehicle upon their release.

I have modeled my legislation after New Jersey’s successful law. Under my bill, anyone who is arrested in Pennsylvania for driving while under the influence will not have access to their vehicle for a period of 12 hours following their arrest. The vehicle shall not be released until the person claiming the vehicle presents documentation including a valid driver’s license, proof of ownership or lawful authority to operate the motor vehicle and proof of valid insurance for that vehicle. My legislation also issues a responsibility warning to persons assuming custody of the arrested person.

Driving under the influence is irresponsible, reckless and unacceptable. Please join me in co-sponsoring this legislation and ensuring the safety of all Pennsylvania drivers. Thank you in advance for your consideration.


Introduced as HB656