Pennsylvania Increases Penalties for Repeat Drunk Drivers

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Gov. Tom Wolf signed legislation Monday to increase penalties for motorists who have multiple driving-under- the influence (DUI convictions to try to end what critics call Pennsylvania’s “revolving door” for the most serious drunken drivers.

The state Senate passed the final version last week after a couple of attempts to get the bill through the Legislature.

The new law takes effect in November and increases penalties for some offenders who receive a third or subsequent DUI conviction.

It aims to lengthen sentences by requiring someone convicted of a third DUI offense to serve consecutive sentences for separate counts, instead of serving the sentences at the same time.

The law also increases the grading of offenses — and the potential length of the sentence — for someone convicted of a fourth DUI if they are caught with drugs or record a high blood alcohol content.

The bill was inspired by the death of Deana Eckman. A five-time drunken driver killed the 45-year-old Delaware County woman in 2019 when he drove his pickup truck across a double yellow line and slammed head-on into the car she was riding in, driven by Eckman’s husband, who was seriously injured.

The 30-year-old pickup driver pleaded guilty to third-degree murder and other charges and was sentenced to 25 1/2 to 51 years in prison.

The driver, David Strowhouer, had been freed from state prison a few months before the crash after serving a concurrent sentence for his fifth DUI conviction.

Copyright 2022 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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