While it is never a good idea to drive while under the influence at any time in any state, driving while impaired took on a whole new meaning when Pennsylvania’s General Assembly passed Senate Bill 961, creating a new felony category for certain DUI offenses. If you have been charged with DUI in Pennsylvania, you need an experienced criminal defense attorney from Melaragno, Placidi & Parini. To combat disturbing drunk driving statistics, Pennsylvania passed the new law. Public safety is a primary concern for legislators and everyone using the roads across the state. According to different sources, drunk driving statistics were worrisome. Reports show that Pennsylvania saw 50,000 new DUI cases every year. Additionally, between 70,000 to 150,000 state residents drive with DUI suspended licenses, and repeat offenders cause at least 40 percent of impaired driving deaths. Moreover, there is an average of 12,000 DUI wrecks, 320 fatalities and 8,700 injuries every year. The definition of legally drunk varies for some professions and age. For example, school bus drivers have a lower blood alcohol content (BAC) level than other drivers; they are legally impaired when their BAC is .02 or more. Commercial drivers are considered impaired when their BAC is .04 or higher. Non-commercial drivers with a BAC of .08 but less than .10 are legally impaired. Drivers under the age of 21 are considered drunk when their BAC is .02 or higher. Alcohol impairs a driver’s responses and can lead to devastating accidents involving serious injuries or death. Bill 961 contains significant changes to state law. One of the biggest changes affects repeat offenders. Before the new law was passed, a driver was not considered a repeat offender until they were sentenced in their first DUI case. Under the previous law, people who were charged over a short period of time would get their charges bundled and have that called their first offense. With the new law, repeat offenses result in harsher penalties. If you are charged with a DUI offense, it is advisable to reach out and connect with an experienced DUI attorney at Melaragno, Placidi & Parini. It is your right to retain a defense attorney. Our attorneys can determine if you may be able to get a DUI charge reduced. Melaragno, Placidi & Parini work with you.