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New DUI law on Pennsylvania's horizon

A conviction for drunk driving can instantly change a person's life. Typically, convicted drivers have to surrender their licenses for a certain period of time, pay a fine and perhaps spend some time in jail, depending on the circumstances. DUI penalties in Pennsylvania also may include attending alcohol education or treatment sessions. However, completing this requirement, as well as fulfilling other obligations, is often complicated by the suspension of one's driver's license.

On Aug. 25, a new law takes effect in Pennsylvania that aims at keeping drunk drivers off the road and preventing the downward spiral that threatens many who are convicted of DUI. Instead of having their licenses suspended, drivers convicted of a first-offense DUI with a blood alcohol concentration of .1 or more will be required to have an ignition interlock system installed in their cars. This device locks the car's ignition system if it registers alcohol on the breath of a driver.

Having this device in lieu of losing one's license means a driver can continue driving, reducing the likelihood of losing a job, which sometimes leads to depression and further struggles with alcohol. Ignition interlock systems have been credited with reducing the rates of repeat offenders in other states, and Pennsylvania hopes to see similar results when the law takes effect. Of course, the system is not free, and those convicted can expect to pay around $1,000 for its installation.

DUI convictions may place many aspects of one's life on hold. Even a first offense can harm a driver's future, placing job, family and opportunities at risk. When charged with drunk driving, one would do well to seek immediate counsel from an experienced attorney for the protection of his or her rights.

Source: erienewsnow.com, "New Punishment for First Time DUI Offenders Begins Next Week", Brittany Lauffer, Aug. 14, 2017

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