April 2010 Archives

April 30, 2010

Pennsylvania DUI Field Sobriety Testing: To Refuse or Not to Refuse?

I was recently at Phillies game and met with one of my former DUI colleagues from the prosecutorial side of the aisle. I was telling him about my "Pulled Over for a Pennsylvania DUI Article" on my new web page. During the game, we engaged in some friendly banter. I told him that if represented a client that refused a field sobriety testing he would not have a chance to obtain a DUI conviction against my client in a Pennsylvania court. He retorted, "of course I would, I would simply tell the judge or jury, that your client's refusal to submit to field sobriety testing indicates their consciousness of guilt." He continued to point out that the case law allows the prosecution to bring up at trial that the refusal of a suspect to perform field sobriety testing such as the walk-and-turn test, the horizontal gaze nystagmus test, and the one leg stand test shows that they must have had this consciousness of guilt. He retorted, " if they were innocent they would have nothing to hide."

I replied, "yes but you forget one thing, I have my clients refuse these roadside tests not for trial but for suppression of evidence purposes.


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April 17, 2010

PENNSYLVANIA DUI CASE LAW UPDATE: Important New Law for Repeat DUI Offenders in Pennsylvania

liquor.jpgLast year the Pennsylvania Supreme Court overturned years of established DUI case law in landmark decision of Commonwealth v. Haag, 981 A.2d 902 (2009). Understanding this case is important. If you are facing a second or subsequent DUI offense in Pennsylvania this case law will affect you.

Prior to Haag, if you had a DUI pending for court and got arrested for another DUI while the first case is pending, you would be treated as a repeat offender and face harsher DUI penalties. The Haag case changed this. Now you must be convicted of a DUI before the present offense occurred for the recidivist penalties to apply. What is the effect of this case? The following example will help you understand:

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April 8, 2010

Pennsylvania DUI Convictions, License Suspension, an On-Going Problem

What do you think the worst penalty is that a person can face when convicted of a DUI in Pennsylvania? No, it's not jail time. No, not court fines. It is license suspension. For a first and second offense DUI, you are looking at 12 month license suspension depending on your blood alcohol concentration (BAC). Even if you are accepted to the ARD program for a first offense DUI you are looking at 30-60 days of license suspension.

A majority of the people that come through my office door seeking representation for a Pennsylvania DUI charge are first offenders and hard working people. They want to pay their penalty, support their families and get on with their lives. How are they suppossed to do so if they can't drive to work? This is a major problem. Most areas in Delaware County, Chester County and Montgomery County and throughout southeastern Pennsylvania are not set up for public transportation unless you live in the city. You have to drive places. Life's necessities requires you to drive to get groceries, go to work, go to school etc. How is the single mom that get's a DUI suppossed to support her two children if she can't get to work to support them?

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