Should repeat DUI offenders be eligible for harsher punishment?

The recent news that three men pled guilty to DUI’s in Buck County doesn’t seem like a big deal. But in this case, it is. 

The three men pled guilty to a ninth, sixth and fifth DUI, respectively—and none of them will face a felony charge. This is because under Pennsylvania law, repeat DUI offenders cannot be charged with a felony and, thereby, cannot serve more than five years in jail. While it seems crazy that a man convicted of his ninth DUI will only serve between 15 and 30 months in jail, many argue that what repeat offenders need is rehabilitation, not jail time.

Arguments for the Current Law 

Those who believe the current law works argue that DUI offenders and Pennsylvania motorists are better off for the law. Bucks County Rep. Katharine Watson is against changing the current law. She believes that the law helps repeat DUI offenders in PA change their behaviors and stop drinking and driving. 

“The theory behind the current DUI law, rewritten and passed in 2004, is [that] elevating repeated DUI offenses to a felony charge doesn’t address or resolve the problem,” stated Watson. “The PA law, unlike many other states, stresses treatment. It is not meant to be punitive.”  

Arguments Against the Current Law 

Bucks County Deputy District Attorney Robert James oversees DUI prosecutions. He argues that the loopholes in the Pennsylvania DUI law give repeat offenders too much of a break. 

James is in support of a change in state law that would allow third-degree felony charges to be applied to cases of repeat offenders. This would increase the maximum jail sentence from five to seven years. Currently, only those who kill or injure someone while driving drunk can be charged with a felony. 

What Do You Think? 

Our Levittown, PA auto accident attorneys would like to hear from you. Do you think the current system is effective, or should it be changed?