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ACT 153 Pennsylvania Adopts Felony DUI Law and Major Sentencing Enhancements

Posted by Jeffrey D. Veitch | May 16, 2019 | 0 Comments

*Effective December 24, 2018

ACT 153 AMENDMENTS TO SERIOUS TRAFFIC CRIMES

75 PCSA § 3803 - Grading of DUI Offenses

Pennsylvania has for the first time enacted a felony DUI Law. Under 75 Pa. C.S.A. 3803(a)(3), any driver who has previously been convicted of Homicide by Vehicle While DUI at any time in the past regardless of offense date or level. Additionally, all fourth and subsequent violations of Section 3802 within 10 years are graded as felonies of the third degree, punishable by up to 7 years in prison.

Act 153 also makes any third offense (highest level, refusal or drugs) within 10 years, a felony of the third degree punishable by up to 7 years in prison.

75 PCSA § 3735 Homicide by Vehicle While Driving Under the Influence

Act 153 provides that anyone with a prior DUI or felony serious traffic conviction faces a felony of the first degree carrying a mandatory minimum 5 year prison sentence. Any person with two of more prior DUIs, serious traffic offenses, or a combination thereof, faces a felony of the first degree and a mandatory minimum 7 year prison sentence. There is also no 10 year lookback on this statute and it therefore includes all prior convictions, regardless of how old.

Section 3735(a):

(1) A person who unintentionally causes the death of another person as the result of a violation of 3802 (related to driving under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance) and who is convicted of violating Section 3802:

(i) is guilty of a felony of the second degree; or

(ii) is guilty of a felony of the first degree if, before sentencing on the present violation, the person has incurred a conviction, adjudication of delinquency, juvenile consent decree, acceptance of Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition or other form of preliminary disposition for any of the following:

(A) An offense under section 3802.

(B) An offense under former section 3731 (relating to driving under influence of alcohol or controlled substance).

(C) An offense which constitutes a felony under this subchapter.

(D) An offense substantially similar to an offense under clause (A), (B) or (C) in another jurisdiction.

(E) Any combination of the offenses under clause (A), (B), (C) or (D).

(2) The sentencing court shall order a person convicted under paragraph (1)(i) to serve a minimum term of imprisonment of not less than three years. A consecutive three-year term of imprisonment shall be imposed for each victim whose death is the result of a violation of section 3802.

(3) The sentencing court shall order a person convicted under paragraph (1Xii) to serve a minimum term of imprisonment of:

(i) Not less than five years if, before sentencing on the present violation, the person has one prior conviction, adjudication of delinquency, juvenile consent decree, acceptance of accelerated rehabilitative disposition or other form of preliminary disposition for any of the offenses listed under paragraph (A), (B), (C), (D) or (E). A consecutive five year term of imprisonment shall be imposed for each victim whose death is the result of a violation of section 3802.

(ii) Not less than seven years if, before sentencing on the present violation, the person has incurred at least two prior convictions, adjudications of delinquency, juvenile consent decrees, acceptances of Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition or other forms of preliminary disposition for any of the offenses listed under paragraph (A), (B), (C), (D) or (E). A consecutive seven-year term of imprisonment shall be imposed for each victim whose death is the result of a violation of section 3802.

75 PCSA § 3732 - Homicide by Vehicle

Act 153 also provides a person convicted of Homicide by Vehicle under 75 PCSA § 3732 may be sentenced to an additional 5 years confinement if also convicted of any of the following arising out of the same incident:

75 PCSA § 1501 Drivers Required to be Licensed Section

75 PCSA § 1543 Driving Under Suspension Section

75 PCSA § 3316 (Relating to prohibited text-based communication.)

75 PCSA § 3325 (Relating to Duty of Driver on approach of Emergency Vehicle)

75 PCSA § 3377 (Relating to Duty of a Driver in an Emergency Response Area)

75 PCSA § 3732.1 - Aggravated Assault by Vehicle

Act 153 amends sentencing portions of this offense to provide that, in addition to any other penalty provided by law, a person convicted of Aggravated Assault by Vehicle may be sentenced to an additional 2 years confinement if also convicted of any of the following arising out of the same incident:

75 PCSA § 1501 Drivers Required to be Licensed

75 PCSA § 1543 Driving Under Suspension

75 PCSA § 3316 (Relating to prohibited text-based communication.)

75 PCSA § 3325 (Relating to Duty of Driver on approach of Emergency Vehicle)

75 PCSA § 3377 (Relating to Duty of a Driver in an Emergency Response Area)

75 PCSA § 1543 (b) - Driving While Suspended - DUI Related

 - A first violation of this statute shall be a summary offense with a mandatory fine of $500 and imprisonment for not less than 60 no more than 90 days.

- A second violation* of this statute shall be a summary offense with a mandatory fine of $1,000 and imprisonment for not less than 90 days.

- A third or subsequent violation* of this statute shall constitute a misdemeanor of the third degree with a mandatory fine of $2,500 and imprisonment for not less than 6 months.

* There is also no lookback period on this statute and it therefore includes all prior convictions, regardless of how old.

About the Author

Jeffrey D. Veitch

Jeff has been honored with the distinction of being named a "Super Lawyer" by Washington Law & Politics magazines Super Lawyers Edition in 2016, 2017, 2018, as well as being named a "Rising Star" by the same publication on several occasions. Jeff has also been recognized by Law & Politics magazine in its "Who's Who" edition every year since 2007. Jeff has also achieved a 10/10 "Superb" rating from AVVO.COM, an independent attorney rating service and "Top 10" Trial Lawyer by The National Trial Lawyers."

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