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Press may contact Chris or Susan Demko via email at help@papaid.org or via phone at 717-598-2458.   For those under deadlines, please state deadline in message and we will attempt to return message or call ASAP.


In cases where a member of the press or organization is seeking an interview/presentation with specific facts or location, we will attempt to match you up with a family in your area or with specific facts surrounding their loss.


RELEASE May 14, 2018


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Fifteen Pennsylvania families who lost children in DUI-related crashes will join lawmakers in Harrisburg on May 22 to push for the advancement of Senate Bill 961, recently passed by the Senate and now with the House Judiciary Committee.

The bill would increase penalties for repeat DUI offenders who continue to break existing DUI laws and take innocent lives across Pennsylvania.

Pa. Senators John Rafferty and Scott Martin, Rep. Keith Greiner, and Lancaster County District Attorney Craig Stedman will join Pennsylvania Parents Against Impaired Driving (PAPAID), which hosts the press event at 11:30 a.m. at the State Capitol Media Center at the Capitol Building.

Some of the impacted families will share stories of how their lives changed forever at the hands of intoxicated drivers who continued to drive despite existing restrictions, which have proven too lenient.

Senate Bill 961 was introduced by Sen. John Rafferty, who continues to lead efforts to improve Pennsylvania’s inadequate DUI laws. Sen. Scott Martin was primary co-sponsor as his SB 635 was amended into SB 961.

Changes to existing laws under SB 961 would include:

1)      Felony penalty for a 3rd-time DUI conviction within 10 years, if third offense is high blood-alcohol content of .16 or higher; and in all other cases at 4th offense. It should be noted that Pa. is one of only 4 states that does not treat repeat DUI as a felony, regardless of the number of prior DUI convictions.

2)      Increased penalties for Homicide by Vehicle while DUI or DUID, which is currently a 3-year minimum sentence regardless of offender’s DUI history. Specifically:

·       If convicted of a prior DUI, the minimum sentence for causing a death is 5 years;

·       If convicted of two or more prior DUIs, the minimum sentence for causing a death is 7 years.

3)      Increased penalties for driving while under a DUI-related license suspension.

Overall, a dramatic improvement for Pennsylvania as many existing DUI-related laws do not distinguish between first-time and repeat DUI offenders, nor those who continue to drive on a DUI-related suspended license. SB961 clearly sends a message that repeat DUI offenders will face harsher penalties if they do not learn from their mistakes and continue to drive.

 

The need for this legislation is critical as shown in this Pennsylvania data:

·       Repeat DUI offenders are responsible for approximately 40% of all DUI-related fatalities.  

·       In 2016, over 10,000 individuals were convicted of their second or subsequent DUI.

·       An estimated 70,000 to 105,000 individuals with DUI convictions continue to drive on a suspended license.

·       There are over 50,000 new DUI cases annually.

·       On average in each of the past eight years, there are over 12,000 impaired crashes, resulting in 8,700 injuries and 320 deaths.

·       Pennsylvania is consistently ranked as one of the most lenient states for DUI laws. That includes ranking as the 5th-most lenient state for criminal DUI penalties, as well as the most lenient state for driving-under-suspension penalties. 

Pennsylvania Parents Against Impaired Driving (PAPAID) is a grass-roots organization of Parents across Pennsylvania who have lost children to impaired drivers. Our members’ children have all paid the ultimate price of ineffective DUI/DUID laws in our state and our goal is prevent additional senseless deaths and injuries by improving Pennsylvania’s ineffective DUI and DUID laws. PAPAID is on the forefront of DUI advocacy for improving PA DUI laws including SB 961.

 

Contact Information:

Chris Demko, Co-Founder

Phone: 717-598-2458 / Email:  help@papaid.org

Website:  Papaid.org

Facebook:  Facebook.com/Papaid.org






Release 4/18/18


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE


Pennsylvania Senate passes SB961 – increasing penalties for Repeat DUI Offenders including those that injure and kill.  

Harrisburg, PA (April 18, 2018) – The Pennsylvania State Senate passed Senate Bill 961 which would increase penalties to DUI offenders who continue to break DUI-related laws.  Changes to existing laws would include:

1)      Felony penalty for 3rd time DUI conviction within 10 years, if third offense is high BAC of .16 or higher, and in all other cases at 4th offense.  It should be noted that PA is one of only 4 states that does not treat repeat DUI as a felony, regardless of number of prior DUI convictions.

2)      Increased penalties for Homicide by Vehicle while DUI or DUID, which is currently a 3 year minimum sentence regardless of offender’s DUI history:

·       If convicted of prior DUI, minimum sentence for death is 5 years

·       If convicted of 2 or more prior DUIs, minimum sentence for death is 7 years

3)      Increased penalties for driving while under license suspension due to prior DUI conviction

4)      Increased penalties for Aggravated Assault by Vehicle while driving under the influence, when offender has suspended or revoked license due to prior DUI conviction.

Chris Demko of PAPAID, said: “Too many families, including my own, have lost children to repeat DUI offenders. This proposed legislation will save future lives and is a material improvement for Pennsylvania as many of the existing DUI-related laws do not distinguish between first-time and repeat DUI offenders, as well as those who continue to drive on a DUI-related suspended license."
 
“Senate Bill 961 clearly sends the message that repeat DUI offenders will be expected to learn from their mistakes and future DUI-related offenses will result in more serious penalties.”

This legislation is critical as shown by the following facts pertaining to individuals who continue to break DUI laws after their first DUI conviction:


·       Repeat DUI offenders are responsible for approximately 40% of all DUI-related fatalities.  

·       An estimated 70,000 to 105,000 individuals in PA with DUI convictions continue to drive on a suspended license.

·       During 2016 there were over 10,000 individuals convicted of their 2nd or greater DUI in PA.

SB 961 was introduced by Senator John Rafferty (R – Chester/Berks/Montgomery Counties), who continues to lead efforts to improve PA’s inadequate DUI laws.  Senator Scott Martin (R- Lancaster County) was primary co-sponsor as his SB635 was amended into SB961.  The bill now moves to the House for its consideration. 

Pennsylvania Parents Against Impaired Driving (PAPAID) is a grass-roots organization of Parents across Pennsylvania who have lost children to impaired drivers.  Our members’ children have all paid the ultimate price of ineffective DUI/DUID laws in our state and our goal is prevent additional senseless deaths and injuries by improving Pennsylvania’s ineffective DUI and DUID laws. PAPAID is on the forefront of DUI advocacy for improving PA DUI laws including SB961.  

Contact Information:
Chris Demko, Co-Founder
Phone: 717-598-2458 / Email:  help@papaid.org
Website:  Papaid.org  / Facebook:  Facebook.com/Papaid.org