– The House Joint DUI Task Force today held its first meeting at the West Lampeter Township Building in Lancaster, less than a mile from the site of a car crash last year that occurred when a drunk driver swerved and struck the vehicle of Meredith Demko, an 18-year-old Lampeter-Strasburg High School graduate who was killed in the crash.
The incident inspired Rep. Keith J. Greiner (R-Lancaster) to introduce House Bill 278
, which would require all repeat and first-time DUI offenders with blood alcohol concentrations of 0.10 percent or greater to use an ignition interlock on their vehicle for at least six months. The legislation was the focus of the task force’s fact-finding meeting.
“The incident involving Meredith Demko really hit home for me and many residents of the 43rd District,” Greiner said. “The sad reality is that, while the accident occurred just down the street from my office, DUI-related tragedies are not unique to Lancaster County. Drunk driving changes the lives of families in communities across the Commonwealth every day. The purpose of my ignition interlock bill is to help prevent those tragedies.”
The House Joint DUI Task Force is comprised of Republican and Democratic members of the House Transportation and Judiciary committees. It is holding a series of meetings across the Commonwealth to study Pennsylvania’s DUI laws and evaluate whether or not changes ought to be made to improve protections against drunk driving.
Greiner said that he believes House Bill 278
would help to both prevent drunk driving and rehabilitate DUI offenders by allowing them to keep their licenses on the condition that they submit to the ignition interlock program. The legislation is currently awaiting consideration in the House Transportation Committee.
Ignition interlocks are devices wired into the ignition system of a vehicle to prohibit individuals under the influence of alcohol from operating the automobile. Individuals are required to blow into the device, and if it detects alcohol, the vehicle will not start. Research has found them to be useful tools in preventing DUI-related incidents.
Currently 38 other states have enacted laws requiring ignition interlocks for first-time DUI offenders. Due in part to laws similar to House Bill 278
, drunk driving deaths have decreased in Arizona and New Mexico by 45 percent and 40 percent, respectively, according to information provided by Mothers Against Drunk Driving.
“As Republican chairman of the House Transportation Safety Subcommittee, I feel that we should make every effort to prevent impaired drivers from operating a vehicle,” Rep. Jim Marshall (R-Beaver/Butler), chair of the task force, said. “This meeting is a continuation of our efforts to gather information and evaluate how to best protect Pennsylvanians from drunk drivers.”
The meeting also included remarks from Craig Stedman, Lancaster County district attorney; Shaun Kaup, Central Penn AAA director of Marketing and Public Relations; Erin Holmes, director of Traffic Safety Programs, Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility; Jack Dalton, public policy director, Lifesaver; and Gary Modi, PennDOT.
“Pennsylvania is averaging one death a day due to impaired drivers,” Stedman said. “The fact they were killed because someone chose to drive impaired simply cannot be tolerated. Ignition interlock is a proven way to decrease repeat DUI offenses and thus save lives. I commend Rep. Greiner, Chairman Marshall and the members of the DUI Task Force for organizing this hearing and fully support House Bill 278
Representative Keith J. Greiner, CPA
43rd Legislative District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Jonathan Anzur