Pam Ondash is among a large group of Pennsylvania residents that is encouraging state lawmakers to toughen the penalties for those with multiple DUI offenses. Ondash's son David was 34-years-old when he was struck and killed by a drunk driver in Harmony Township, leaving behind a spouse and three kids. She wants to be sure that legislators understand the true harm “done to our lives”. She is active with a group known as the Pennsylvania Parents Against Impaired Driving (PAPAID), that is aggressively supporting the recently passed Senate Bill 961 which soon is going to enter the House Judiciary Committee for review.
David was killed when a 24-year-old man from Ambridge was operating his pickup truck with a blood-alcohol level that exceeded .16 percent, which is more than twice the legal limit. The defendant, who was sentenced to five-years in prison, was charged with DUI, involuntary manslaughter, and operating with a suspended license. Ondash feels that often repeat DUI offenders in Pennsylvania are receiving sentences that are too lenient and hopes revised guidelines for sentencing will soon be implemented. With this new potential legislation, those with a third DUI offense may be charged with a felony and all subsequent offenses would also be felonious.
Aaron Bernstine, a State Representative from New Beaver, is in favor of the bill and believes that “it is important to hold those who put people's lives in danger accountable”. The bill contains a provision that would increase the minimum sentence for those who cause a fatality while operating under the influence from three years to five years. In addition, the measure would increase the penalty for those found to be driving while under a DUI-based license suspension. Chris Demko, who leads the PAPAID organization, feels that Pennsylvania's DUI laws are far too lenient compared to the majority of other states.
Pennsylvania Parents Against Impaired Driving
PAPAID is a group that is similar to the long-established Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) organization that maintains a national presence. They offer encouragement and support for those devastated by the results of DUI accidents. PAPAID believes that more stringent DUI penalties are critical in the prevention of such incidents. They are seeking others to “work together to increase the chances of effective DUI laws being passed”.
Best Practices for Those in a DUI Accident
- Those involved in an accident with a driver who is potentially under the influence of alcohol or drugs should always contact the local authorities immediately
- Keep in mind that drunk drivers are considered to be per se negligent, meaning the driver may automatically be deemed to be at fault in the collision
- A failure to notify the police may make proving that the driver was intoxicated impossible and potentially result in your being found as liable in the crash
- Remember that sometimes the severity of an accident injury will not be fully apparent for a day or two following the vehicle collision
- As always, it is strongly advised to consider contacting a personal injury attorney if you have incurred injuries or property damage as a result of another driver's negligent or careless actions