HARRISBURG – Today, Senator Bob Mensch (R-24) and Representative Chris Quinn (R-168) announced the introduction of a crucial piece of legislation in memory of DUI homicide victim Deana Eckman that would increase penalties for repeat DUI offenders in both the Pennsylvania Senate and House of Representatives.
“It was two years on February 16, 2021, that a drunk driver with five prior DUIs, killed our daughter in a horrific crash,” Rich DeRosa, father of Deana Eckman, said. “Please pass this bill to spare any other family from this living hell.”
Named ‘Deana’s Law,’ Senator Mensch’s legislation is Senate Bill 773, which is numbered in honor of Deana’s birth month and year. Deana Eckman was killed in a head-on collision on February 16, 2019 in Upper Chichester Township, Delaware County. The individual convicted in the crash, which seriously injured Deana’s husband, Chris, pleaded guilty to third-degree murder, homicide by vehicle while driving under the influence, and a host of other felonies and has been sentenced to 25 to 50 years in prison.
“Just a little over two years ago, Deana Eckman was reprehensibly murdered by an individual who was then convicted of his sixth DUI,” Mensch said. “It is unacceptable that we allow people to continually drive while impaired. If we know there’s an impairment, we need to deal with it up front and much more effectively than we do. It is imperative that the legislature do everything in our power to keep those who have numerous DUIs off the roads. Doing so will protect the lives of many and will hopefully ensure that something like what happened to Deana does not happen to anyone else.”
Mensch’s legislation would, among other things:
- Increase grading for certain repeat DUI offenders.
- Ensure that consecutive sentences are imposed to certain repeat DUI offenders.
- Substance monitoring program evaluations for repeat DUI offenders as a condition of probation, parole, or bail.
“These offenses are abhorrent, and those convicted of them should not have the choice to serve the sentences concurrently, which was the case for the individual who killed Deana,”
Mensch said. “Making certain that consecutive sentences are imposed and that there is increase grading for certain repeat DUI offenders is essential to this legislation and to keep our communities safe.”
Quinn’s legislation, House Bill 773, is also numbered in honor of Deana’s birthday. It increases penalties for those convicted of third or subsequent DUIs. It also requires consecutive sentencing for those offenders. Unlike the Senate version, it does not address monitoring devices.
“Had the individual convicted of Deana’s murder been serving consecutive sentences, he would have still been imprisoned at the time of her death,” said Quinn. “Every DUI represents a potential homicide, and our laws should reflect that reality. Enacting Deana’s Law will better protect Pennsylvanians from the worst of the worst repeat DUI offenders.”
“The Pennsylvania Chiefs of Police Association supports the passage of Deana’s Law. Deana Eckman was tragically taken from her family too soon. We need to protect Pennsylvanians from DUI offenders. It is unfortunate, but reality, that there are individuals that drive while impaired – either under the influence of a substance or under the influence of alcohol. We did not support earlier legislation which would have amended a DUI bill by loosening DUI conditions. We believe that impairment is impairment, whether you are legally allowed to have the drug or not, you should not be able to drive under the influence.”
“PDAA supports the efforts to tighten up the laws related to drunk driving so that those who are repeat and higher-level offenders face more appropriate and more serious consequences.”
“AAA strongly supports increased measures to combat the deadly issue of impaired driving, including strict enforcement, training more Drug Recognition Experts and rehabilitation. We applaud Senator Mensch and Representative Quinn for his concern for the safety of the motoring public and his introduction of Deana’s Law. We look forward to working with the General Assembly to pass this important legislation.”
Senate Bill 773 currently has bi-partisan support with 18 co-sponsors and has been referred to the Senate Transportation Committee. House Bill 773 also has bi-partisan co-sponsors.
You can watch the full news conference here.
You can watch Senator Mensch’s remarks here.
For more information on Senator Mensch’s legislation, visit www.senatormensch.com. State updates can also be found on Senator Mensch’s Facebook at facebook.com/PASenatorBobMensch/ or Twitter @SenatorMensch.
CONTACT: Madison Scarfaro firstname.lastname@example.org