Do lenient Pennsylvania DUI laws leave motorists in danger?

A recent analysis indicates that Pennsylvania has some of the most relaxed DUI laws in America, which may leave motorists vulnerable to needless accidents.

Drunk driving laws are intended to keep dangerous drivers off the road and deter negligent behaviors. Unfortunately, DUI laws in Pennsylvania might not adequately protect people in Pittsburgh and other areas from impaired drivers and associated accidents. Pennsylvania experiences thousands of alcohol-related accidents in a typical year, and according to a recent analysis, the state has considerably laxer DUI laws than the majority of other states.

Dangerously limited laws

The analysis, which compared DUI laws in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, found that only two states had more lenient laws than Pennsylvania. According to ABC News, the state received such a low ranking on the basis of the following laws:

  • Light jail sentencing for first- and second-time offenders. A first-time DUI conviction does not result in any mandatory jail time. The mandatory minimum time for a second conviction is only 5 days.
  • No automatic felony DUI charges. In many states, enough repeat DUI offenses will trigger felony charges. In Pennsylvania, only offenders with high blood alcohol concentrations can be charged with felonies.
  • Lack of administrative license suspension. Instead of confiscating a drunk driver's license at the time of arrest, authorities must wait until the driver is convicted.

These aren't the only DUI laws that may leave motorists in danger. According to Lancaster's LNP, Pennsylvania law does not let authorities seize the vehicles of repeat offenders, which is a tactic that can forcibly prevent further recidivism. Additionally, current laws establish a low statute of limitations of just two years for fatal DUI accidents, which could allow many dangerous offenders to avoid appropriate punishment.

These limited laws may detrimentally affect roadway safety by allowing offenders to resume their dangerous habits sooner. The lack of administrative license suspension may be especially harmful. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, several states that use administrative license suspension have seen marked decreases in deadly drunk driving crashes. Due to the absence of this law, thousands of preventable accidents and hundreds of deaths may occur in Pennsylvania each year.

A safety epidemic

The high rate of drunk driving and associated accidents in Pennsylvania reflects the fact that stronger laws may be necessary. According to Mothers Against Drunk Driving, in 2013, over 60,000 people in the state were arrested for drunk driving. Motorists experienced more than 11,000 crashes that involved a driver who had been consuming alcohol. These accidents caused 7,900 injuries. Tragically, legally drunk drivers also claimed the lives of 368 people the same year.

Unless state authorities implement stricter sanctions and deterrents against drunk driving, these unnecessary accidents may continue harming thousands of people each year. Fortunately, although state law might not adequately prevent impaired driving accidents, it does provide legal remedies to the victims of these accidents. Injury victims or people who have lost loved ones in DUI accidents may benefit from seeking legal guidance to learn more about pursuing recourse.