In 2018, ABC27 News reported that Pennsylvania adopted Act 153 to tackle drunk driving problems within the state. The bill allowed the state to charge drunk drivers with a felony under the following conditions:
- It was the fourth arrest or higher.
- It was the third DUI offense or higher.
- Blood-alcohol content was 0.16% or higher.
The bill also increased incarceration time for intoxicated drivers if it resulted in the unintentional death of someone else. The minimum sentence was originally three years, but it was raised to five. Repeat offenders who were caught driving on a suspended or revoked license could also face prison time of up to six months and fines up to $2,500.
These drastic changes were not without cause. According to Forbes, road traffic accidents is the primary killer of young adults and children all around the world. It holds ninth place in the world as the leading cause of death overall. Experts believe it will move into seventh place by 2030.
People who are five to 29 years old face the greatest risk of dying from road traffic accidents. In fact, it is the primary fatal threat for this age group. Even children of parents who do not drive are at risk. Children are often killed at bus stops, while crossing the street or while riding their bicycles.
One of the main contributors to deadly car crashes is alcohol. Alcohol affects people differently. Some people may have a BAC below the legal limit and still fail to operate a vehicle safely. In 2017, 1,837 people were killed by drivers whose BAC were below the legal limit. And, every day, 29 people die due to the actions of an impaired driver. The cost of these alcohol-related crashes amount to $44 billion.
It is no wonder then that Pennsylvania and other states around the U.S. are taking stronger measures to deter drunk driving. However, as many critics continue to point out, there may also need to be a stronger focus on substance abuse programs to help habitual offenders.