Pennsylvania DUI Loophole – Man Sentenced on Four First Offenses at Same Time

A Pennsylvania judge recently sentenced a man on four separate DUI offenses, and all four were considered first offenses.  Had the man been facing first, second, third, and fourth offenses, the sentence that was imposed would have been much more severe.  The number of “prior offenses” of DUI that a person has within the past 10 years substantially increases the mandatory minimum sentences that are imposed.

Pennsylvania DUI Prior Offenses

For many, many years, the definition of “prior offense” for drunk driving cases in Pennsylvania considered the conviction date from the prior offense and the arrest or date of incident on the current case.  If the driver was not convicted on the first DUI before the driver drove drunk the second time, then the driver would actually be charged with two first offenses of driving under the  influence.  People that picked up numerous drunk driving cases within a short period of time could get multiple first offenses. In this particular case, the man accumulated four drunk driving incidents before a prosecutor could get a conviction, so the man was charged with first offenses of drunk driving.

Change to PA Drunk Driving Law Closes Loophole

The Pennsylvania legislature sought to eliminate this type of thing from happening, so they changed the definition of “prior offense.”  Now, it does not matter if the man was convicted on the first offense before picking up a second or third.  At the time of sentencing, the judge considers whether or not the person has a prior offense within the past ten years.  In this particular case, what would happen is that the man may still  plead guilt to all four DUI charges at one time and be sentenced, but his sentencing on the first offense would count as a prior offense, so the sentence on the next case would be for a second offense.  When sentencing on the third, the man would have been sentenced previously on two prior offenses cases, so he would have a third, and the same thing would happen for the fourth offense. Had the man been sentenced under the current version of the law, the impact would have been tremendous. For a first offense of drunk driving in the highest range of alcohol, the minimum sentence is 72 hours in jail and a maximum sentence of six months. A judge would not have to impose the mandatory minimum sentence, but the judge would have been limited to 3 months of incarceration per case, so a total of one year. If the man were facing a second offense of DUI in the highest tier of penalties, the mandatory sentence increases to 90 days and the maximum sentence increases to five years. For a third and fourth offense of drunk driving in the highest tier, the minimum sentence is one year incarceration and maximum of five years.

This man was very fortunate that the new DUI sentencing law did not apply to him. Instead of facing a relatively short county jail sentence, the new law would most likely have sent this man to state prison for a long time. The man was very accomplished, a former Chief Financial Officer for a Philadelphia healthcare provider. Just another example that alcohol abuse or addiction can take down anyone. No one is too smart or too accomplished to have problems with drugs or alcohol. Anyone suffering from alcohol abuse or addiction can seek help from Alcoholic Anonymous. According to an online article, the man did undergo in-patient treatment at a rehabilitative facility. Hopefully, the man applies the principles of sobriety that he learned in treatment and remains sober. The costs of returning to the bottle and being charged with another driving under the influence offense just substantially increased in Pennsylvania.