Recently in DUI Penalties Category

March 31, 2011

Was Your BAC Under the Legal Limit (.08) in Pennsylvania? Think You Won't Be Prosecuted for DUI? Think Again. (Part I of II)

Imagine, you are on your way home from a casual happy hour with co-workers. You get pulled over by the local police department in your Pennsylvania county on suspicion of drunk driving. When you get pulled over, you know you've had a few drinks too many to be driving. You are a bit nervous and scared, but you manage to maintain your composure. You make sure to treat the police officer respectfully and follow all of his instructions. You know you aren't completely intoxicated and can still function. The cop asks you to step out of the vehicle. He asks "have you been drinking sir." You respond, "yes, officer I had a couple beers at the bar down the street." Of course you think honesty is the best policy. After that, the officer asks you to perform certain balancing and coordination tests. He calls them "field sobriety tests." You perform all the field sobriety tests to the best of your ability. You walk nine steps heel-to-toe successfully and you stand on one leg successfully for 30 seconds. You even touch your fingertip to your nose every single time. Then, the officer says "sir, you are under arrest on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol, I am going to take you back to the hospital for chemical testing of your blood." The cop then handcuffs you and transports you to the hospital in the back of the police car to draw blood. When you get to the hospital, you agree to submit to a blood test. The officer reads warnings to you that say you will lose your license if you don't give blood. You are then brought back to the police station, fingerprinted and booked. This is your first encounter ever with law enforcement. You have never been through anything like this before. The next day you wake up and go to work. You try to act like everything is normal but you can't stop thinking about your DUI. All the ramifications of this are running through your head. "What if I go to jail? Will I lose my license? Will I lose my job? Will I have a criminal record? I need to speak to a lawyer."

A week later, after not hearing anything about your DUI, you get a notice in the mail. It says your case is set for a preliminary hearing in two weeks at your local District Court. You show up to your court date. By this time you've hired an attorney and at the preliminary hearing, the police officer produces the lab report and shows it to your lawyer. Your Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) was a .072%. You know the legal limit in Pennsylvania is .08%, you don't have to be a lawyer to know that. You say to yourself "thank God, I'm under the legal limit, this is all over now." I've got some bad news for you, think again.

Continue reading "Was Your BAC Under the Legal Limit (.08) in Pennsylvania? Think You Won't Be Prosecuted for DUI? Think Again. (Part I of II)" »

June 24, 2010

PA ARD Program: A Better Option Than a DUI Conviction on Your Record

Most people who come to me facing DUI charges are good people who have experienced a lapse of judgment. People that did not think their one extra drink at the baseball game or their friends Bar-B-Que would result in their arrest and them facing DUI charges. For those people the Pennsylvania Legislature allows an alternative to being convicted and sentenced in for of the Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition program or ARD.

The ARD program allows first time offenders to serve probation, community service and fines which, if successfully completed results in the dismissal of the charges against them. Obviously this is an enormous benefit to clients who are concerned about keeping their jobs or looking for a job in the future.

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June 9, 2010

CDL Drivers Face Stiffer Penalties for DUI in Pennsylvania

A Pennsylvania DUI conviction often results in a PA license suspension. These suspensions may seriously affect your ability to get to and from your place of employment, however, if your employment involves driving regularly then the impact may be significantly more serious. Drivers who have their Commercial Drivers License or CDL face stiffer suspensions then those with regular licenses and a conviction can effectively end your driving career.

The Motor Carrier Safety Improvement Act that was implemented in 2005 by the Pennsylvania legislature has mandated more stringent penalties for CDL licensees who have been convicted of driving under the influence. Some of the most significant aspects of the legislation are the legal BAC level for CDL drivers and the length of their suspensions for one or more DUI convictions.

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June 7, 2010

Pennsylvania DUI: Small Differences in BAC Equal Big Differences in Sentencing

As a DUI attorney my main goal is to be sure that my clients serve the absolute minimum sentence possible. Because of the tiered structure for DUI penalties in Pennsylvania, the sentences are based on the driver's BAC and the number of their prior offenses. It is important to have a skilled Pennsylvania DUI lawyer to make sure that you do not recieve a higher penalty than necessary.

A perfect illustration of the importance of having a skilled attorney is the difference between a "General Impairment" (BAC .08 to .099%) tier sentence and "High BAC" (BAC .10 to .159%) tier sentence. First time offenders in Pennsylvania with a BAC of .099% face 6 months of probation, a $300 fine and alcohol highway safety classes. This is compared to a BAC just .001% higher who face a 12-month license suspension, 48 hours to 6 months in jail and a maximum of a $5,000 fine. For defendants who have had one or more prior DUI's the difference between tiers becomes even more dramatic.

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May 10, 2010

Pennsylvania Case Law Update Part II: State Representative Wishes to Overturn Commonwealth v. Haag with New Legislation

Rep. Seth Grove of York County, PA would like to overturn what he characterizes as a "DUI Loophole." He is referring to the new case, Comm. v. Haag that was decided last year by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court that shields certain repeat DUI offenders from the recidivist sentencing enhancements of section 3806 of the Pennsylvania Vehicle Code. Comm. v. Haag stands for the proposition that a DUI offender must be convicted of a prior DUI offense, rather than arrested for a prior DUI in order for the recidivist sentencing enhancements to apply.

Rep. Grove introduced a piece of legislation that has been approved by the House Transportation Committee adds language that defines a prior DUI offense as a violation that occurred prior to the sentencing of the subsequent offense. This would in effect hand down lengthier mandatory sentences for DUI drivers that get caught driving under the influence two or more times in a row. The bill needs to be approved by the Pennsylvania House and Senate before it can be sent to Governor Rendell for his signature.

Continue reading "Pennsylvania Case Law Update Part II: State Representative Wishes to Overturn Commonwealth v. Haag with New Legislation" »

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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