Father who lost daughter to impaired driver, supports bill that penalizes repeat offenders
In 2015, impaired drivers caused 379 crashes in Pennsylvania resulting in more than 400 deaths according to PennDOT.
Some of those drivers were repeat offenders.
Senator Scott Martin of Lancaster County introduced new legislation to increase the penalty for these offenders and one Lancaster father is hoping this bill passes.
Chris Demko's daughter Meredith was killed by an impaired driver back in 2014. She was just 18 years old.
"She was driving home from the YMCA at about 2 o'clock on a Tuesday when an individual, who was drunk and high on heroin, a repeat offender, basically drove into her. He thought he was being chased by police but he wasn't and he basically killed her," Chris Demko said.
Since her death Chris has become an advocate for impaired driving awareness by working with legislators to strengthen the laws in PA. The latest is a bill targeted at keeping repeat offenders off the road.
"They are really some of the worst offenders. They caused the majority of deaths and injuries on the roads related to DUI," Demko said.
Senator Scott Martin of Lancaster County recently introduced the legislation that would mandate two years of prison time if a person receives more than two DUI's within a ten year period.
It will also elevate the charges if someone is killed in the crash.
"It will create a felony classification for a third time offender. The interesting thing about that is that the state of Pennsylvania is only one of four states that does not have felony classification for repeat offenders in the whole country. The other thing the bill will do will penalize third time offenders that actually kill and I will raise it to third degree murder," Demko said.
Together with family members who have lost a loved one in a DUI crash ,Chris Demko is hoping to rally support in Harrisburg with the hopes that a bill like Senator Martin's will pass and keep offenders like the one who took his daughter behind bars.
"It's very frustrating to know that we lost an innocent child when they did absolutely nothing wrong and you have someone who's done everything wrong and they choose to basically totally ignore the law," Demko said.
Demko says his group, titled PA P.A.I.D or Pennsylvania Parents Against Impaired Driving, will be up in the capitol in the next month rallying support behind this Senate bill. They hope to see a change in DUI laws in Pennsylvania soon.