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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2015 - 2016 Regular Session


Posted: December 19, 2014 12:16 PM
From: Senator John C. Rafferty, Jr.
To: All Senate members
Subject: Homicide by Vehicle while DUI with Prior DUI Offenses
In 2010, According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) an estimated 10,228 people died in drunk driving crashes, accounting for nearly 31% of all traffic deaths that year. In fact more than three people were killed in drunk driving fatalities for every 100,000 Americans. What further complicates the problem is that about one-third of all drivers arrested or convicted of drunk driving are repeat offenders.

These repeat offenders pose a very real threat to the safety of our Commonwealth and roadways. However when they roll the dice and drive intoxicated and take another person’s life they face the same penalty they would face without those previous bad decisions.

Unfortunately a recent case in Chester County demonstrates the inadequacy of existing law. In April of 2012, Robert Landis of Chester County, who had 7 previous convictions for DUI, was operating his pickup truck at a blood alcohol level of .28 when he turned in front of 24-year-old Liam Crowley’s motorcycle killing this young man. Even though Mr. Landis had 7 prior convictions for DUI, he faced the same 3 year mandatory and grading he would have faced had this been his first DUI.

I believe Pennsylvania law should reflect the enhanced risk a repeat offender poses to the public and increase the grading of the offense of Vehicular Homicide while DUI where a defendant has been given one or more bites of the apple for the most serious kinds of traffic violations. I worked with Chester County District Attorney to draft legislation that I intend to introduce that will raise the grading of Vehicular Homicide while DUI for these types of repeat offenders from an F-2 to an F-1. Furthermore my bill will increase the mandatory sentence from the current 3 years to 5 years, where the defendant has been previously convicted of DUI or a felony major traffic offense such as Vehicular Homicide or Vehicular Assault, and from the current 3 years to 7 years when the defendant has three or more of these serious convictions.

I hope that you will join with me and support this legislation by becoming a co-sponsor.

Introduced as SB776