Are punishments tough enough for repeat DUI offenders in Pennsylvania?

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LOGANVILLE, Pa. (WHTM) – Elaine and Paul Miller lost their son Rodney, Chief of the Loganville Volunteer Fire Department, back in 2013 from an impaired driver.

It was the driver’s third DUI.

“There’s times where you’d like to crawl in a hole and pull the ground in over top of you. But that doesn’t solve anything,” Paul said.

So what will?

It’s a question the members of the York County District Attorney’s office, as well as victims’ family members, want to know.

“If you are a first offense DUI offender who commits homicide by vehicle while DUI, you are treated the same way as the person who commits homicide by vehicle while DUI and they’re on their 20th DUI offense. We do not change it based upon what your prior industry is,” Chief Deputy Prosecutor Tim Barker said.

In fact, Pennsylvania is one of only four states that doesn’t have a felony DUI law. The highest sentence for homicide by vehicle DUI is 5-10 years.

“They’ve taken lives based upon their repeat conduct. They should not get a break. When you take somebody’s life for doing the same thing over and over again, you should not get a break for that,” Barker said.

And with the recent opioid crisis, some feel fighting DUIs has slipped through the cracks. Barker said the issues overlap.

“Over half of our repeat offenders DUI have a drug on board. We average around 52 percent. So either it’s just drugs or drugs and alcohol,” Barker said.

As for Chris Demko, who lost his daughter to a repeat DUI offender, he hopes no other family will have to take the same road.

“What we’re looking for is for them to create effective and comprehensive laws to reduce the number of DUI deaths and crashes,” Demko said.

A bill was introduced last session that would increase penalties for repeat DUI offenders. It will be reintroduced this session.Get breaking news, weather and traffic on the go. Download our News App and our Weather App for your phone and tablet.

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