Deana’s Law, Imposing Stronger Penalties on Repeat DUI Offenders, Clears Major Hurdle Says Killion

Legislation named in memory of Delco woman advances to the Senate floor

Deana’s Law, groundbreaking legislation requiring the use of innovative technology to combat repeat DUI offenders in memory of DUI homicide victim Deana Eckman was approved by the Senate Transportation Committee, Senator Tom Killion (R-Chester & Delaware) announced today.

“With committee approval, Senate Bill 773 is on track to be passed by the Senate before the first anniversary of Deana Eckman’s tragic death on February 16th,” said Killion. “Deana was a warm, loving, generous woman murdered by an individual now convicted of six DUIs. This bill, named in her memory, will save lives.”

Most notably, Deana’s Law will mandate the use of continuous alcohol monitoring (CAM) devices for the first time in Pennsylvania. Similar to home arrest monitors and other devices affixed to offenders, CAM devices are strapped to the wearer.

At regular intervals, CAM devices sample and test the wearer’s insensate perspiration for the presence of alcohol. As sensitive and reliable as Breathalyzers, CAM devices upload test results to a base station installed in the wearer’s home and transmits them to the monitoring agency.

CAM devices have been used for the last seven years in York County as part of the adjudication of DUI cases. York experienced a 90 percent decline in DUI recidivism in the first year of their use. DUI fatalities in York dropped 21 percent from the previous three-year average during that same period.

“CAM devices work. They effectively deter offenders from consuming alcohol,” said Killion. “You keep someone from drinking, you keep them from turning a three-ton vehicle into a killing machine.”

Requiring those arrested for a third or subsequent DUI offense be fitted with a CAM device is just one of the innovative methods and changes provided for in Deana’s Law. Killion’s legislation would also:

  • Increase jail time for those convicted of three DUIs or more. Those convicted of a fourth offense would be subject to a five to 10 year sentence rather than the current three-and-a-half to seven years. Fifth and subsequent DUI convictions would expose the felony offender to a 10 to 20 year rather than the current three-and-a-half to seven years.
  • Require the imposition of consecutive sentences after conviction. Deana’s Law would mandate that those convicted of a third DUI offense serve the sentence for that offense consecutively to any other sentence the offender is serving and to any other sentence to be imposed by the court.

“These crimes are so egregious, those convicted of them should not be allowed the luxury of serving DUI sentences concurrently,” said Killion. “It was a concurrent sentence which allowed the individual who killed Deana to be on the road rather than behind bars.”

“The death of our daughter at the hands of a six-time drunk driver cannot be adequately described,” said Rich DeRosa, father of Deana Eckman. “My faith in humanity has been shaken and I’ve been immersed in a constant depression.”

“Children should outlive their parents. That’s the natural order of things,” said Roseann DeRosa. “The disruption of that has caused indescribable pain, and we fervently hope and pray that Deana’s Law will be passed to spare other families from this never-ending nightmare.”

“We must do everything within our power to make sure no other family suffers the way the DeRosa and Eckman families have,” said Killion. “I thank Senate Transportation Chair Kim Ward for her support and advancing this legislation in memory of Deana.”

Senate Bill 773 now moves to the full Senate for consideration.

 

Contact: John Kelemen
               215-459-2800
               jkelemen@pasen.gov