A recent study shows that Pennsylvania tops the list of states for repeat DUI offenders. Those with a DUI offense are most likely to wind up back on the road and get another DUI. Why? One of the main reasons may be that Pennsylvania requires a DUI conviction before suspending the license of those arrested for DUI.
One out of every two drunk driving arrests is a repeat offender in Pennsylvania, with an average of one DUI fatality a day. This means that 365 individuals are killed by drunk drivers every year. Ten years ago, the state lowered the blood alcohol level required for a DUI conviction and increased jail penalties for those caught driving under the influence.
Reasons for Pennsylvania's High DUI Rates
One factor that is attributed to Pennsylvania's high repeat offender rate is that the state does not require officers to suspend the licenses of those that have failed a field sobriety test, nor does the state mandate the use of ignition interlock devices. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that the use of such devices drop the DUI rate by around two-thirds.
Another reason that Pennsylvania has a high repeat-offender rate is due to that fact that many Philadelphia defendants do not show up to court. The rate in Philadelphia for drunk driving defendants failing to appear in court is 20%. If an arrested driver does not show up for court, a fugitive warrant is served, but the city's Warrant Unit views them as a low priority and chases other cases first.
Many times, repeat offenders are consistently charged as first-time offenders if the prior case was never resolved. For those that do not show up for court hearings, many arrests could be amassed before a conviction is secured.
Advocates in the state are seeking to reform the DUI laws to reduce instances of drunk driving, and request that judges be stricter with convictions for those caught driving drunk multiple times. California, on the other hand, has much more severe drunk driving laws and penalties.