Survivors of those killed in DUI crashes in Pennsylvania demanded reform Tuesday at the state capitol, urging lawmakers to stiffen penalties and limit driving privileges for intoxicated drivers.
Lancaster County District Attorney Craig Stedman and a pair of state Senators accompanied the 9 families in a public address for reform.
The victims, from Lancaster, York, Chester, and other counties across the state, held large photos of their loved ones lost.
“They all had dreams and plans,” Lancaster resident Chris Demko said of the victims, whom include his 18-year-old daughter Meredith Demko, killed just days after her high school graduation in 2014, by a repeat drunk driver.
“The lost children include an Iraqi War veteran, a state trooper, a fire chief and an (emergency medic).”
The survivors, along with Stedman, asked for lawmakers to pass bills regarding:
- Mandatory ignition interlock for offenders;
- A felony charge for repeat offenders charged with a 3rd or subsequent DUI;
- Vehicle forfeiture for a repeat offender charged in a new DUI;
- A presumption of malice, and murder charges, in select cases where a repeat offender causes death.
Here are some of the quotes from the address:
“You can have infinite DUIs and it’s a misdemeanor, unless you kill someone - and then it’s too late.”
Maggie Hannagan, who lost her son and daughter, killed by a driver who was drunk and on prescription drugs, texting and driving 100 mph in Chester County:
“DUI is a deliberate choice.”
Diane Crowley, whose son was killed by a man with his 7th DUI, in Chester County:
“We got the phone call nobody wants to get. “
Sen. John Rafferty Jr.:
“It’s incumbent upon us in Pennsylvania to do all we can to curb drunk driving. We owe it to their memories to make sure we press the legislature to ensure we curb this epidemic.”
Paul Miller, who lost his son, a fire chief, who was killed by a DUI driver while responding to a previous DUI crash on Route 83 in York County:
“Alcohol doesn’t discriminate. It doesn’t care if you’re a Republican or a Democrat.”
Sen. Lloyd Smucker, who said 1 in 3 vehicles crashes involves an impaired driver:
“Their wild party often leads to an innocent person’s packed funeral. Time wasted (passing legislation) equals lives lost.”
“We just want them to stop. It’s up to the legislature. We’re not simply going to arrest our way out of this problem. There are things we can do to make sure this stage isn’t more crowded.”
The victims and Stedman joined the survivors in a private meeting with several lawmakers, including Sen. Ryan Aument, Rep. Mike Sturla, Rep. Bryan Cutler, Rep. Brett Miller.
MEDIA CONTACT: Brett A. Hambright, 717-295-2041; firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter: @BrettHambright