Drunk driving has been a major topic of debate for lawmakers over the past several decades. In recent years, drunken driving laws have become increasingly aggressive due to public outrage and concern. In 2010, over ten thousand people were killed due to an individual driving while under the influence of alcohol. The costs associated with motor vehicle accidents, as a result of alcohol, are estimated to be over $51 billion each year. An even more staggering number is the amount of drivers who have self identified as driving after drinking alcohol. Roughly 112 million Americans reported driving while under the influence of alcohol in 2010. Furthermore, nearly 1.4 million Americans were arrested in 2010 for driving under the influence of an intoxicating substance.
As a result of the staggering number of deaths and arrests linked to alcohol, many states have passed more aggressive legislation. Pennsylvania has been ahead of the trend in terms of assertively addressing the issue of drunken driving. In fact, Pennsylvania lawmakers passed Act 24 in 2003. Act 24 effectively lowered the legal limit of blood alcohol content from .10 to .08. Furthermore, Act 24 introduced a tiered approach to enforcing DUI laws and penalties. The overall strategy in Pennsylvania is to emphasize treatment and rehabilitation for first time offenders, while imposing harsh penalties on repeat offenders.
First time offenders in Pennsylvania will often face misdemeanor charges accompanied by probation and fines. However, those penalties increase with the driver’s level of blood alcohol content. For example, a first time offender whom had a blood alcohol content of .16% or higher could face up to six months in prison. Obviously, the most serious consequence related to drunken driving is death. However, major legal implications can follow a DUI arrest in Pennsylvania. Unfortunately, DUI’s happen and not every individual should be held legally culpable. If you or someone you know has been arrested for a DUI, make sure to contact the attorneys at Gibbons Legal to discuss all options going forward.