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House of Representatives
Session of 2021 - 2022 Regular Session


Posted: July 15, 2021 10:21 AM
From: Representative Angel Cruz
To: All House members
Subject: Preventing Drivers from Returning to their Vehicles Immediately after a DUI Arrest
In July 2000, 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 but had returned to his vehicle upon his release. The motorist also died and the friend who picked him up from police barracks was later charged with manslaughter, vehicular homicide and aggravated assault, 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.

In Pennsylvania, there is currently no law ensuring that individuals arrested for driving under the influence cannot return to their vehicle upon their release. People who operate a vehicle while intoxicated pose a serious threat to the public as well as to themselves. This risk of harm can extend well beyond the time an intoxicated driver has been arrested, processed, and released.

Therefore, I will be reintroducing legislation modeled after New Jersey’s to require law enforcement to hold the vehicles of individuals arrested for drunk driving offenses 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. The bill will also require that any person assuming custody of the arrested motorist be given a written statement advising them of their potential criminal and civil liability for allowing the arrestee to get behind the wheel while the arrestee remains intoxicated. 

This legislation is about making sure that impaired drivers do not return to their cars and drive again before they’ve sobered up - I hope you join me in ensuring the safety of all Pennsylvania drivers.

Introduced as HB1811