Pennsylvania parents’ group urges tougher DUI penalties

The advocate group, Parents Against Impaired Driving, displayed post-sized photographs of their children who were victims of impaired drivers and urged passage of the bills. One of the bills would make a third DUI offense within 10 years a felony; the other would automatically sentence anyone convicted of driving with a blood-alcohol level at .10 or above to using an ignition interlock device in their vehicle for at least a year.

According to WHTM-TV, Sen. Lloyd Smucker of Lancaster first authored the three-strikes bill in 2014, in reaction to the death of an 18-year-old woman in a wreck with a drunk driver. The driver had one previous DUI conviction. At the event, the Lancaster County district attorney noted that in Pennsylvania, stealing a pen at Walmart three times qualifies you for a felony charge, but that DUI charges continue to be at the misdemeanor level until the driver is involved in a fatal crash, no matter how many times he or she is caught.

WHTM notes that a 2015 online study ranked Pennsylvania 49th out of the 50 states and the District of Columbia in the toughness of its anti-drinking and driving laws.

Personal injury law is separate from the criminal justice system, but it also serves a vital purpose. Victims of drunk drivers and other negligent people can go to court to get the financial compensation they deserve. When the worst happens and someone dies of negligence, their family need not suffer financially on top of the grief the unnecessary death has caused them.