Within a three-day period, four men in Bucks County pled guilty to DUI charges. In and of itself this is not surprising—but wait until you hear how many times the men have been caught driving under the influence.
When combined, the four men account for 20 total DUIs. Only one of the four was charged with his first DUI—the other three accounted for 19 of the 20. The offender with the most DUIs, Robert Oxenford of Quakertown, pled guilty to his ninth DUI. He received the least amount of jail time of the four—15 to 30 months in a state prison.
The other repeat offenders seem to be on their way to catching up to Oxenford. William Ellershaw of Bensalem is a six-time offender. Steven Perry of Yardley has been caught and convicted five times. And while the number of times the men have been caught drinking and driving is surprising, the real shocker is that none of the men are facing felony charges.
DUI Charges Not a Felony in Pennsylvania
In Pennsylvania, it doesn’t matter how many times a person is caught and charged with a DUI—they will never receive a sentence over five years. This is because, according to Pennsylvania law, DUI charges alone cannot be considered a felony.
Proponents of the law say that treatment programs for repeat offenders are more effective than longer jail sentences. In Pennsylvania, those convicted of a DUI are not simply thrown into jail, they are made to undergo behavior treatment and are closely supervised. In this way, the 60 percent of habitual DUI offenders who have mental health issues can get the help they need, making them less likely to re-offend.
Not All Agree
Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) and others concerned about the current law do not believe that it is as effective as it could be. MADD president Jan Withers strongly supports felony charges for repeat DUI offenders.
“MADD does support felony charges for three or more DUI convictions because it’s an important tool to give the judicial system more options on sanctions,” said Ms. Withers. “Otherwise their hands are tied.”
No matter the current laws in Pennsylvania, our Levittown car accident attorneys know the terrible price victims of drunk driving accidents face. We hope that any law or program truly makes a difference in lowering the rates of DUI repeat offenders in Pennsylvania.