Deana’s Law Significantly Increases DUI Penalties in Pennsylvania

Posted by Joseph D. Lento | Sep 04, 2022 | 0 Comments

On July 11, 2022, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf signed Deana's Law, which significantly increases both the offense level and penalties for repeat DUI offenders. The law was named in memory of Deana DeRosa Eckman, a Delaware County woman killed by a drunken driver with five previous DUI convictions and a suspended driver's license. When he swerved his pickup truck into her lane and hit Deana's car head-on, his blood-alcohol level was 0.199%. Investigators also found traces of cocaine, diazepam, and marijuana in his system.

What Offenses Are Covered

The new law, which takes effect on November 8, 2022, applies to drivers with a blood-alcohol level of 0.16% or higher; drivers who have unprescribed controlled substances in their systems; and drivers who are otherwise impaired by alcohol and who refuse to submit to a breathalyzer or blood analysis test.

Deana's Law Increases Offense Levels

For a driver with two previous DUI convictions, Deanna's Law increases the offense from a misdemeanor to a third-degree felony. For a driver with three previous DUI convictions, the level of offense increases from a misdemeanor to a second-degree felony.

Being convicted of a felony—as opposed to a misdemeanor—carries with it a host of consequences on top of the potential increase in prison time. Unlike with a DUI misdemeanor, for example, you cannot ask a court to seal the record of your conviction for a felony offense.

A Conviction Under Deana's Law Means More Prison Time

As a result of the more serious levels of offense, the potential prison sentences also increase. Where formerly the maximum sentence for a multiple DUI offender with no other complicating factors was five years in prison, Deana's Law elevates the charge to a third-degree felony, which carries with it a sentence of up to seven years in prison. For the more serious second-degree felony that comes with a fourth DUI conviction, the prison sentence is up to ten years.

Sentences Under Deana's Law Are Served Consecutively

Deana's Law also requires that sentences are served consecutively. This means that a person serving sentences for multiple crimes cannot combine them and so serve them all concurrently. Instead, the driver convicted under Deana's law has to serve their sentences one after the other.

Deana's Law Affects Even First-time Offenders

Because Deana's Law applies in cases where a defendant has been convicted of DUI twice before, it becomes even more important that drivers who are charged with DUI for the first or second time receive proper legal advice and a strong legal defense.

The team at LLF Law Firm have the knowledge and experience to help you defend against a DUI or drugged driving charge in Pennsylvania. Call LLF Law Firm at 888-535-3686 or reach out through our contact form to learn more about how they can help you defend your case.

About the Author

Joseph D. Lento

"I pride myself on having heart and driving hard to get results!" Attorney Joseph D. Lento passionately fights for the futures of his clients in criminal courtrooms in Philadelphia and across Pennsylvania as well as in New Jersey and nationwide. He does not settle for the easiest outcome, and instead prioritizes his clients' needs and well-being. With unparalleled experience occupying several roles in the criminal justice system outside of being an attorney, Joseph D. Lento can give you valuable behind-the-scenes insight as to what is happening during all phases of the legal process. Joseph D. Lento is licensed in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York, and is admitted pro hac vice as needed nationwide. In the courtroom and in life, attorney Joseph D. Lento stands up when the bell rings!


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