How Does Deana’s Law Affect DUI Cases in Pennsylvania?

Wooden gavel on law book with lady justice on desk

As you may know, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf signed Deana’s Law on July 11, 2022. Targeting repeat DUI offenders, this new legislation takes effect on November 4, 2022. For more information on how Deana’s Law affects DUI cases in Pennsylvania, please read on, then contact an experienced Pittsburgh third DUI lawyer soon. Some questions you may have about Deana’s Law and its effect on Pennsylvania DUI cases include:

What is Deana’s Law?

To understand Deana’s Law, one must understand its history. Legislators named the then-bill, now-law after Deana Eckman. In 2019,  David Strowhouer, an intoxicated driver with five previous DUI convictions, killed her when he drove his pickup truck across a double yellow line and slammed head-on into the car she was riding in. Her husband, who was driving, also sustained serious injuries. Mr. Strowhouer’s extreme circumstances may help explain why Deana’s Law upgrades a DUI charge to a third-degree felony if a driver has two or more previous DUI convictions and to a second-degree felony if the driver has three or more convictions.

What are the penalties for violating Deana’s Law?

In accordance with amendments to Pennsylvania statute, violations of Deana’s Law come with the following penalties:

  • Fourth offense DUI (within ten years): Now a felony of the second degree, punishable by a prison sentence of five to ten years and a maximum fine of $25,000.
  • If an individual has a pending third offense and a pending fourth offense (within ten years): Mandated by Deana’s Law, the Judge must sentence those two cases consecutively, i.e. one after the other.

Prior to this law, Commonwealth Judges had the discretion to sentence an individual’s third and fourth offense consecutively or concurrently, i.e. at the same time. As a result of this law, you could spend decades in state prison.

What other restrictions does Deana’s Law place on DUI defendants?

In order to supposedly prevent intoxicated individuals from getting behind the wheel of a motor vehicle and driving on the Commonwealth’s highways and trafficways, the bill mandates the use of continuous alcohol monitoring devices that monitor alcohol levels found in a wearer’s sweat for those convicted of two or more offenses.

In addition, the law mandates that law enforcement must impound vehicles owned by convicted drivers with two or more offenses.

What should you do if you violate Deana’s Law?

Even with these somewhat draconian amendments to the Commonwealth’s DUI laws, prosecutors must still prove you guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. As a former prosecutor, George A. Heym, Esq. knows what it will take to win a conviction, which will help in his fight to prevent yours.

Contact Our Pittsburgh DUI Lawyer

If you are facing a DUI charge, contact The Law Offices of George Heym to schedule your free initial consultation.

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