The Pennsylvania Senate recently unanimously voted in favor of drunk driving legislation that will affect some first-time offenders. This legislation is the first that has amended Pennsylvania’s drunk driving laws in a decade. It is expected this legislation will also pass in the House, although it should be noted that this has not yet officially been signed into Pennsylvania law. If passed, this law would provide opportunities for qualified first time driving under the influence offenders to utilize interlock devices so they can continue using their vehicle without endangering others.
Criminal and Civil Drunk Driving Implications
A driving under the influence conviction is the punishment provided by the criminal court system. This new law, in lieu, or in addition to a fine, probation, or even incarceration, would provide an opportunity for an offender to have an interlock device placed in his or her car. Also known as an “ignition interlock system,” the interlock device is a mini breathalyzer of sorts and requires offenders to blow into the device to assess blood alcohol content before the ignition switch will turn over. Often, these devices will save and report data so not only will an offender’s vehicle not operate if the person is under the influence, but the offender may also be in violation of probation for drinking alcohol at all.
In many drunk driving cases, there are civil penalties in addition to these criminal punishments. Driving while intoxicated may cause injury to another person or another person’s property. If this is the case, the wronged party may be able to bring a civil lawsuit seeking monetary damages against the drunk driver. If the auto accident was severe, a catastrophic injury or wrongful death action may be an option. Catastrophic injury lawsuits seek to make the injured party “whole” again by compensating them for incurred medical expenses, loss of income, loss of enjoyment of life, or future known medical care. Wrongful death seeks to compensate the surviving family of someone who was killed by another. Unlike catastrophic injury lawsuits, wrongful death cases do not provide compensation for the pain and suffering of the deceased, since the focus in a wrongful death case is on the surviving family.
Pennsylvania Auto Accident Attorneys
Pennsylvania’s new drunk driving laws will provide opportunities for first time offenders to get back on their feet by allowing them to continue driving even if they have been convicted of an alcohol-related offense. Interlock systems have proven effective in many jurisdictions, and Pennsylvania is on a similar path if it passes this law. Regardless, people do still drink and drive. If you or anyone you know has been affected by a drunk driving accident or an accident caused by another, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries. At Solnick & Associates, LLC, our experienced auto accident attorneys can confidently advocate on you and your family’s behalf to ensure you receive the compensation you are entitled to by law. If you think you may have a claim, or if you have questions about the civil aspects of drunk driving laws, please contact us today.