Dinniman: Tougher DUI Laws Help Police Increase Safety on Our Roads
WEST CHESTER (September 2, 2016) – Drunk driving and drugged driving on our roadways is an extremely serious public health and safety issue.
In fact, last year, there were 10,558 alcohol-related crashes in Pennsylvania, resulting in 345 deaths, according to PennDOT data. Forty-three of those deaths were passengers in a vehicle where the driver was impaired. On average each day, 29 alcohol-related crashes occurred.
Senator Dinniman is committed to supporting police and giving law enforcement the tools they need to crack down on DUIs, keep our roads safe, and prevent repeat offenders from getting behind the wheel.
Dinniman was a strong and consistent supporter and co-sponsor of Act 33 of 2016, which expands the use of interlock ignition devices for DUI offenders. The bill calls for interlock ignition devices for first-time DUI offenders with high blood alcohol contents. With its passage, Pennsylvania joins 47 other states that already impose an interlock for first offenders. More importantly, interlocks have stopped 1.7 million drunk driving attempts nationwide and 80,000 in Pennsylvania, according to MADD.
“We’ve seen an absolute epidemic of drunk driving accidents and fatalities in our region in recent years. All too often, those hurt or killed are purely innocent victims who just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time,” Dinniman said. “It cannot continue.”
Dinniman cited the case of an intoxicated driver who crashed into a Downingtown family last year, claiming the lives of their two teenage children. Prior to that, a driver who had seven previous DUI convictions drank and got behind the wheel again, claiming the life of a young volunteer firefighter in Westtown.
“We need to get tougher on drunk drivers and especially repeat offenders. In addition, we must explore all options to help prevent individuals from drinking and getting behind the wheel in the first place,” Dinniman said. “That’s why Act 33 is a major step in the right direction.”
In recent years, Pennsylvania has made some important strides in cracking down on DUIs by closing loopholes that allowed repeat offenders to be charged as first timers, as well as tightening hit and run penalties that encourage DUI offenders to flee the scene of an accident. However, there is still much more work to be done.
That is why Dinniman continues to work to pass bills that call for stiffer penalties for repeat DUI offenders, as well as measures to keep them off the road, like seizing their vehicles. He is a supporter and co-sponsor of both Senate Bill 776 and Senate Bill 607 to do just that.
While PennDOT data actually shows that alcohol-related crashes are trending downward over the past decade, drug-related crashes are increasing each year.
In response, Pennsylvania continues to work to train police and law enforcement (as part of state and national programs) to recognize and identify the signs of drugs versus alcohol when a driver is suspected of being impaired.
“All crashes and fatalities involving drugs or alcohol are entirely preventable,” Dinniman said. “Stop and think before you drink and get behind the wheel. There is no excuse.”
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Dinniman for Senate
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