Posted in: Safety,
by Gregg Laskoski on May 15, 2014 05:00 AM
Are your states's DUI laws as soft as Pennsylvania's?
The Inquirer just reported that jail stints, home confinement, community service, and counseling didn't deter Robert Landis, 50, a habitual drunk, as he took to Chester County's roadways drunk over the last three decades.
So last week, as Landis was sentenced for killing a motorcyclist last year while again behind the wheel intoxicated - a judge used what he called his only solution: warehousing Landis in prison.
Landis, whom one prosecutor has called the county's worst drunken driver, tallied seven DUIs before killing 24-year-old Liam Crowley in April 2013.
Landis logged his first DUI in 1981. With each that followed - in 1990, twice in 1997, once in 2002, 2005 and 2009 - he was given harsher penalties, court documents show. Each time, his license was suspended.
Landis drove regardless, and did not have a valid license the night of the 2013 crash, which took place about two years after he had finished serving his last DUI sentence.
He was sentenced Wednesday after pleading guilty to homicide by vehicle while intoxicated, driving under a suspended license while intoxicated, and causing an accident involving death or injury without a valid license.
And finally, he'll serve the time he deserves; 8 to 17 years.
Chester County District Attorney Thomas Hogan has used Landis' case to call for harsher mandatory minimum sentences for repeat DUI offenders who cause a crash that kills. The state's mandatory minimum for homicide by vehicle while driving under the influence is three to six years. Hogan has drafted legislation that would impose a seven-year mandatory minimum for each victim if the driver has been convicted of three previous DUIs.
Does that seem 'harsh' to you? You don't face 7 years in jail until your fourth DUI conviction?
We asked the folks at PennDOT for some perspective on the disconnect between the tough rhetoric and the state's weak DUI laws... and here's their response:
"PennDOT does not dictate or set penalties for drunk driving. We urge drivers never to drive while under the influence of drugs or alcohol."
Is your state tough enough on DUI?