Pennsylvania has long been unique as one of only four states whose drunk driving laws did not make any form of DUI violation a felony. The legislature has now shed that questionable distinction by passing a bill that makes certain repeat offenders guilty of a felony.
Many residents of Lackawanna County have heard of "Breathalyzer tests" or "implied consent," but few understand the law behind the names. The Pennsylvania Legislature, like legislatures in the other 49 states, has passed a law that requires all persons driving on the state's roads to consent to a test of their blood alcohol content when requested to do so by a police officer. The consequences of refusal can be severe.
As the Pennsylvania legislative session nears adjournment, people who consider themselves victims of drunk drivers are pushing for stronger penalties. The draft legislation is aimed at repeat drunk drivers, and its principal goal is to make a third DUI offense a felony.
Most residents of Lackawanna County are aware that local police departments use a device called a "Breathalyzer" to measure the blood alcohol content of persons believed to be driving under the influence of alcohol, but very few understand how such devices work. While details vary depending on the model, most Breathalyzers operate on the principles outlined below.
Each year thousands of Pennsylvania residents are arrested on drunk driving charges. The circumstances that lead to these arrests can be quite varied but, in most cases, a law enforcement officer will allegedly view some traffic violation, initiate a traffic stop and only once coming into contact with the driver might the officer believe that the driver is under the influence of alcohol. So, what is the best approach to fighting drunk driving charges in Pennsylvania?
Charges associated with drunk driving are unquestionably serious and can carry stiff penalties and consequences.
Because serious potential penalties and consequences can arise related to drunk driving charges, an equally serious criminal defense response is important. DUI convictions can result in both criminal and administrative penalties. Criminal penalties can include possible jail time, fines and other potential penalties. Administrative penalties include the suspension or revocation of the accused individual's driver's license and other possible consequences.
The Pennsylvania State Police recently released statistics on driving under the influence incidents in for the previous year. These statistics reveal that troopers investigated over 4,000 driving under the influence-related crashes and that over 19,500 DUI arrests were made in 2016. These numbers only include instances investigated by state police and do not account for statistics from other law enforcement agencies.
A previous blog post discussed the exemptions to Pennsylvania's Ignition Interlock Law. Those who can prove that installing ignition interlock devices in each of their motor vehicles would present an undue hardship may be allowed to install an ignition interlock system in only one vehicle, provided they do not drive any motor vehicle not equipped with an ignition interlock system.
A previous blog post discussed Pennsylvania's Ignition Interlock Law. Typically, those with more than one conviction for driving under the influence are subject to the law which requires an ignition interlock system to be installed in every motor vehicle that the repeat offender owns, operates or leases. However, there are certain exemptions, including the economic hardship exemption and the employment exemption which may, under certain circumstances, allow some repeat DUI offenders to operate motor vehicles without an ignition interlock system.