Deana's Law: Pennsylvania toughens penalties for repeat DUI drivers

It was February 16, 2019, in Upper Chichester, when 45-year-old Deana DeRosa Eckman lost her life to a drunk driver.

Jillian Mele Image
Friday, July 15, 2022
EMBED <>More Videos

The new law takes effect in November and increases penalties for some offenders who receive a third or subsequent DUI conviction.

HARRISBURG, Pennsylvania (WPVI) -- Gov. Tom Wolf signed legislation this week to increase penalties for motorists who have multiple DUI convictions to try to end what critics call Pennsylvania's "revolving door" for the most serious drunken drivers.

The state Senate passed the final version of "Deana's Law" last week after a couple of attempts to get the bill through the Legislature.

The new law takes effect in November and increases penalties for some offenders who receive a third or subsequent DUI conviction.

It was February 16, 2019, in Upper Chichester when 45-year-old Deana DeRosa Eckman lost her life. She was killed when she was hit head-on by David Strowhouer as he was driving with a blood alcohol level more than twice the legal limit. It was his sixth DUI.

"He should have been serving consecutive sentences back in 2019, instead he was given concurrent sentences for his fourth and fifth DUIs. If this law had been in place when she was killed, her life probably would not have ended. He didn't care enough about anyone else on that street. He only cared about getting himself bombed that night," said Delaware County DA Jack Stollsteimer.

SEE ALSO: Fate of 'Deana's Law' faces roadblock; family fights to get law passed

From that moment on, Deana's parents, Roseann and Rich DeRosa, vowed to make sure this never happened to anyone else.

"She was always helping somebody, so this law in her name will help somebody else," said Roseann.

The law aims to lengthen sentences by requiring someone convicted of a third DUI offense to serve consecutive sentences for separate counts, instead of serving the sentences at the same time.

The law also increases the grading of offenses - and the potential length of the sentence - for someone convicted of a fourth DUI if they are caught with drugs or record a high blood alcohol content.

"This helps all of our children. This helps all of our loved ones, and you can go to bed better knowing that your kids are going to be safer as a result of this law," said Pennsylvania State Representative Chris Quinn.

"I am relieved...we can take a slight rest now until the next phase starts. She's still doing something now, preventing drunk driving, even though she is no longer here," added Rich DeRosa.

Deana's Law will take effect in 120 days.

Meantime, her parents will continue to fight for more changes that will keep people safe on the roads.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.