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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2017 - 2018 Regular Session


Posted: March 27, 2017 02:14 PM
From: Senator Scott Martin
To: All Senate members
Subject: DUI Penalty Enhancement
On July 8, 2014, Meredith Demko, an 18-year old recent high school graduate from Lancaster County was driving home in the middle of the afternoon when she was killed by an individual who was drunk, high on heroin, and driving on a suspended license due to a prior DUI conviction.

Volunteer Fire Chief Rodney Miller was killed in the line of duty at the age of 45 in April 2013 by a repeat hit-and-run/repeat drunk driver. At the time of his death he was responding to earlier DUI-related crash in which the driver was drunk and high, and driving on a suspended license.

In April 2013, 24-year old Liam Crowley was killed by a drunk driver with a suspended license and 5 prior DUI convictions. According to the Chester County District Attorney, the driver would have been eligible to drive as of 2012 had he completed the proper paperwork.

Kaitlyn Berry died at the age of 24 at the hands of a drunk repeat DUI offender driving on a suspended license. The driver’s 7-year old son and Berry’s mother were also severely injured in the accident.

Unfortunately, this list goes on for too long.

In 2014, over 50 percent of the 170,000 Pennsylvanians who had suspended licenses due to DUI convictions were repeat offenders. The existing Pennsylvania DUI laws are inadequate and ineffective in combating the serious problem of repeat DUI offenders.

This proposed legislation would amend:
  • Title 18 (Crimes and Offenses) and Title 75 (Vehicles) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes to increase the penalty for killing a person while driving under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance if an individual has more than two prior offenses within a ten-year period.
  • Section 303 of Title 18, concerning the causal relationship between conduct and result, would be amended by adding a presumption of recklessness or negligence when the death of a person is caused by an individual committing the offense of driving under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance.
  • Section 2502 of Title 18, concerning murder, would be amended to specify that the murder of a person killed as a result of an offense committed when driving under the influence would be considered murder of the third degree, which is graded as a felony of the first degree, if the individual has more than two prior offenses.
  • Section 3803 of Title 75, relating to driving under the influence, would be amended to provide that an individual who commits a violation and has more than two prior offenses within a ten-year period would be guilty of a felony of the third degree.
  • Section 3804 of Title 75, would increase the penalty for a driving under the influence for an individual who has more than two offenses within a ten-year period from imprisonment of not less than ten days to imprisonment of not less than two years nor more than seven years. In addition, the fine would be increased from not less than $500 nor more than $5,000 to not more than $15,000.
Co-sponsors of the legislation (SB 839) in the 2015-16 session were: SMUCKER, AUMENT, HUGHES, RAFFERTY and SCAVELLO.

Introduced as SB635