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New 2019 laws Pennsylvania drivers should know

It’s a brand-new year for the Keystone State, and with a new year comes new regulations. The state continually tries to make the streets safer for all drivers and pedestrians as the statistics for motor vehicle accidents remains grim. Whether it is from negligent motorists or the state’s unpredictable weather patterns, Pennsylvanians must continue to warrant caution on the roads.

The newer laws passed for the year cover multiple areas instead of just covering one major recurring problem, so drivers should remember what the state’s new policies are on all of these issues in case they ever find themselves in these difficult situations.

Stricter DUI policies

Pennsylvania was one of the more lenient states when it came to DUI penalties. Prior to last year, all the state counted all DUI offenses as misdemeanors. This did not bode well for those victimized by drunk drivers. They felt the guilty parties were not receiving the right amount of fines and jail time they deserve.

Thanks to the new law passed in October, drivers will be charged with a felony if it is their third DUI offense with a BAC of 0.16 or higher and for subsequent arrests. Additionally, the state extended prison time for those motorists that unintentionally cause the death of a passenger or pedestrian in the process. The lawmakers are hoping these new policies will discourage more people from getting behind the wheel intoxicated.

School bus cameras

There were multiple noteworthy school bus deaths throughout the nation in the latter half of 2018. Negligent motorists that did not stop when the bus put out the stop arm while they were on the opposite lane caused most of these fatalities. Even if a driver passes by and doesn’t hit anyone, they might go too fast for the bus driver to catch their license plate. The consequences could be severe if these drivers continue to go unpunished.

Governor Tom Brown sought to fix that by signing Senate Bill 1098, which will provide funding and allow for more outside cameras on the bus’s stop arm. While it is still optional for schools to do, having more districts take part in this would rightfully punish those that do not obey the law and put the lives of children and other drivers in danger.

Animal rescue

Rescuing pets from a trapped vehicle has always been a gray area, but lawmakers are hoping this new regulation can simplify the process. Law enforcement now has ability to break and enter in a locked vehicle if they see a dog or cat inside and will not be liable for the damage. This not only makes legal proceedings more straightforward, but it also reminds citizens to not leave their pets in the car during extreme temperatures during the winter or summer. Private citizens are not covered under this regulation and can still get sued if they attempt to break in to free a pet.

While these new laws are designed to minimize car deaths throughout the state, only time will tell whether they will do good for the people of Pennsylvania. Those who want clarification on these new rules or are facing an upcoming legal battle over a motor vehicle accident should seek legal advice to see how they should proceed.

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