Drunk Driving / DUI

Out of State DUI and the Impact in Pennsylvania

 

DLC

This past June, the irk of Philadelphians was felt far out west as former Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb – a dual resident of Pennsylvania and Arizona – was arrested  in Arizona for Driving Under the Influence (DUI). This was his second offense in Arizona for DUI and now likely faces at least 30 days in jail and a period of a license suspension.

Many people may wonder: would Pennsylvania find out about the DUI? How would this affect his ability to drive in PA? More importantly, if subsequently arrested for DUI in Pennsylvania, would it be a first or third offense? The answer to these questions rests in the Driver License Compact (DLC).

 

What is the DLC?

The DLC is a compact between 45[1] states, the goal of which is to share traffic information in order to have an across-the-board “one driver license” concept. It prevents individuals with suspended licenses from simply going across state lines and obtaining a new license. It also allows a resident’s home-state to consider certain out-of-state traffic related offenses, such as DUI, and suspend a home-state license accordingly. Each state has its own rules.

In Pennsylvania, under 75 Pa.C.S. § 1581, PennDOT considers only serious traffic offenses, and will not assess points for minor traffic infractions. Your license will be suspended for one year if you are convicted of any of the following out-of-state traffic-related offense:

  • Manslaughter in connection with the use of a motor vehicle
  • Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs if the statute is substantially similar in nature to PA’s DUI laws under 75 Pa.C.S. 3802 (see below)
  • A felony conviction in connection with the use of a motor vehicle
  • Failure to stop and render aid in the event of a motor vehicle accident results in death or personal injury

 

How does Pennsylvania treat out of state DUIs?

If you are convicted of DUI in another state and it is your first offense ever, Pennsylvania will not suspend your license. Under the PA DUI penalty statute, an out-of-state DUI conviction is treated as if it had occurred in PA under subsection 3802(a). Under this subsection, there is no driving license suspension. However, if it is your second offense or more, PennDOT will suspend your license for one year. This is in addition to any license suspension penalties from the DLC state.

 

If my PA license is suspended, can I go to another state and obtain a new one?

No. If your license in your home-state is suspended and you attempt to obtain a license from any of the DLC states using a DLC residence, you will not be able to obtain a driver’s license. Under the information-sharing agreement clause of the DLC, notice of an applicant’s license suspension will be shared among the states.

This same concept is true for out of state residents trying to obtain a PA driver’s license. PennDOT will not issue a driver’s license for any out of state driver who has a suspended license. 75 Pa.C.S. § 1503.

 

If I received ARD for a DUI in PA, and then got a DUI in another state, will my license be suspended?

PennDOT has a 10 year look-back period. In addition, ARD is considered a conviction for subsequent sentencing and licensing purposes. If you received ARD for a DUI within the past 10 years, and are subsequently convicted of DUI in any DLC state, your license will be suspended for at least one year.

 

If I got a DUI in another state, then got a DUI in PA, is it a first or second offense?

If you have a conviction for DUI in a DLC state, and are subsequently convicted of DUI in PA within the next 10 years, you will be sentenced as a second offender. Under 75 Pa.C.S. § 1581, Article III and IV, a conviction from a DLC state will  have the same effect as if it occurred in PA. For example, if you were convicted of DUI in Florida, and subsequently convicted of DUI: Highest Tier (.16+) in PA, you will be subject to the second-offender penalties, which include a minimum incarceration of 90 days, minimum $1,500 fine, and 18 month license suspension.

 

Thus, to answer the McNabb dilemma: if Donavan McNabb is convicted of a second offense DUI in Arizona and holds a PA driver license, then his PA driver’s license will be suspended for one year. In addition, if he is subsequently arrested and convicted of DUI in PA, he will not be a first or second offender; he will be a third time offended. A third offense DUI in PA carries severe penalties.

 

If you feel your situation is similar to any of the above DUI or  PA driver’s license issues, it is in your best interests to contact an attorney immediately. Contact the Skinner Law Firm at (267) 388-3476 to discuss your case.

[1] The following states are not part of the Compact: Georgia, Massachusetts, Michigan, Tennessee, and Wisconsin

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Effects of 5th Circuit’s Decision On Expanded DACA And DAPA Executive Actions

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 EFFECTS OF 5TH CIRCUIT’S DECISION ON EXPANDED DACA AND DAPA  EXECUTIVE ACTIONS

On May 26, 2015, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals denied the government’s request to lift an injunction currently placed on President Obama’s expanded executive action programs known as DACA/DAPA. Essentially, this means removal proceedings will still continue against people otherwise eligible for the expanded programs’ benefits. Most of these people include undocumented parents of United States citizen-children. At this point, the future of the program is unknown. More importantly, its overall constitutionality is called into question.

Background

In June 2012, under the directive of President Obama, the Department of Homeland Security issued a memorandum in which immigration officials must refrain from deporting certain undocumented aliens. The process, known as deferred action (or DACA) would not – and has – granted any immigration status to those who apply. Rather, it simply prevents immigration officials from initiating removal proceedings against these people. In essence, these people are on a hiatus from any immigration action. So long as a qualified person submitted an application and was granted deferred action, he or she could apply for a work permit and remain in the United States. A qualified DACA recipient must meet the following:

  1. Came to the United States under the age of 16;
  2. Is currently under the age of 30;
  3. Continuously resided in the United States for at least 5 years prior to June 15, 2012 and currently present in the United States;
  4. Graduated high school, obtained a GED, is currently in school or has served honorably in the United States military; and
  5. Has not been convicted of a felony, significant misdemeanor, multiple misdemeanor offenses or otherwise be a threat to national security.

As of to date, hundreds of thousands of young men and women have applied for DACA, and most have been accepted. Accepted applicants can reapply every two years, so long as they stay out of serious trouble. This has allowed many young people to obtain lawful work status and live without a constant fear of deportation.

DACA Expansion

In February 2015, two expansions to the current DACA program were supposed to go into effect. The expansions were thereafter referred to as expanded DACA and DAPA. First, the expanded DACA bumped up the continuous residency date to January 1, 2010, authorized 3 year work permits and eliminated the 30 year old age cap. Second, the DAPA expansions allowed certain undocumented aliens to apply for a new program if they met the following:

  1. Be the parent of a US citizen or lawful permanent resident;
  2. Continuously resided in the United States since January 1, 2010 and physically present as of November 20, 2014;
  3. Have no lawful status;
  4. Are not an enforcement priority; and
  5. Present no other factors that, in the exercise of discretion, make the grant of deferred action inappropriate.

The expanded DACA/DAPA was supposed to address the inequities under immigration laws which discourage family unification. Just as it was unfair to punish young men and women who were brought to the United States as children when it was not their choice, so was it unfair to punish United States citizen-children by deporting their otherwise lawfully-acting undocumented parents.

At the same time, the expanded DACA/DAPA program was supposed to prioritize detaining and deporting the most serious criminal and immigration violators. This new enforcement policy was meant to save time and resources of CPB and ICE officials. Surprisingly, the expanded DACA/DAPA’s new enforcement priorities still remain in effect, despite the 5th Circuit’s ruling. Thus, the government’s new guidelines for detaining and deporting certain undocumented aliens will continue. This means that people otherwise eligible for the new programs who have been convicted of crimes such as DUI may be deported unless they qualify for a very limited form of immigration relief or discretion.

 

Federal Lawsuits

To date, 26 states have filed federal lawsuits to prevent the programs from going into effect. The states argued that the expanded programs were illegal and imposed a significant burden on them. One of the most pivoted states to fight the original and expanded program(s) has been Texas. Right before applications under the expansions were supposed to take place, an injunction was ordered by a federal judge in Texas. The government appealed the decision and as of May 26, 2015, the injunction has been upheld. Even conservative estimates show that up to 3-4 million undocumented aliens could have benefited from the expanded policies. Most of these people reside in the southern states, like Texas.

It is important to note that the current ruling does not affect the old DACA program. Those eligible under the old DACA program can still apply and receive deferred action. If you believe you qualify for the old DACA program, or have concerns regarding eligibility for the new programs – should the injunction be lifted – be sure to consult an attorney immediately before immigration officials contact you.

 

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Keeping Your License After a DUI Arrest

When a person is arrested for driving under the influence, he or she could face immediate consequences, such as having driving privileges suspended or revoked. This often is one of the hardest parts of a DUI arrest because it could create issues with employment and education. However, there are options and ways you can fight to keep your license.

When a person is arrested for a DUI, law enforcement officers often ask they submit to a chemical test. Under Pennsylvania law, the Department of Transportation Driver and Vehicle Services can suspend or revoke your driving privilege for many reasons, including violating the implied consent law.

Implied consent is a legal concept related to DUI that has been adopted in several states. Under implied consent, any time a person drives, operates or is in actual physical control of a vehicle, he or she agrees to a chemical test of his or her blood, alcohol or urine.

When a person refuses to take the test, the officer then will document the refusal and send it to the Department of Transportation. From that point, you driver’s license will be suspended 30 days after the correspondence. The suspension for a first refusal could last up to a year.

It is important to understand the process of reinstating your driving privileges because drivers only are allowed 30 days to request a license suspension hearing. It is at the hearing the driver and his or her attorney can make a case as to why he or she should retain driving privileges.

To appeal, drivers must file an appeal with the Civil Trials Division of the Court of Common Pleas in the county in which the refusal occurred. The appeals process will require forms and a filing fee, much like a criminal court. If your hearing is granted, PennDOT will need to prove:

  • The officer had reasonable cause for a stop
  • The officer had reasonable cause to believe the driver was intoxicated
  • You refused a chemical test after an officer asked you submit to one
  • The officer read your O’Connell warnings
  • The arrest was valid

Your administrative suspension could be revoked if these things cannot be proven. If they are, there still may be defenses to argue your defense. However, even if your administrative suspension is overturned, you still could face criminal penalties.

DUI convictions carry severe penalties, including a driver’s license suspension. If it is a first offense, a person only may be faced with an administrative suspension. A second or third DUI could mean a one-year suspension, plus administrative penalties.

In certain cases, a person convicted of a first-time DUI may be eligible for an Occupational Limited Licenses after serving 60 days of his or her suspension. Those sixty days are sometimes called the “hard suspension,” meaning the individual cannot drive for any reason. This license would allow a person to commute only for an occupation, work, trade, medical treatment or study

However, the best way to avoid having your driving privileges revoked is to avoid a DUI conviction. A skilled Chester County DUI defense attorney can work with you at the beginning of the case and help you build a strong defense against the charges. Protecting your future is important, and the attorneys at Skinner Law Firm understand that. Call (267) 388-3476 for a free consultation.

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Expect DUI Checkpoints This Holiday Season

The holiday season means holiday parties, and no one knows this better than local law enforcement agencies. They’ll be on the lookout around West Chester for people driving under the influence, from now until after New Year’s.  During this time of year, state troopers set up checkpoints along routes to stop drivers and check for potential drunk drivers. If you’re caught at one of these checkpoints driving under the influence, the penalties are severe. You’ll want an experienced advocate for DUI clients on your side if you wind up facing charges.

The surest way to avoid being arrested at these stops is to call a cab after a party, or have a designated driver. But under the 2005 Pennsylvania Supreme Court case Commonwealth v. Beaman, the Court ruled that, while the checkpoints are legal under the Fourth Amendment, they require some kind of advance publicity to justify their deterrent effect. Law enforcement agencies will typically announce their planned checkpoints to the media a week before, but the media often gives it slight coverage, meaning you have to be paying a good deal of attention to catch it.

Pennsylvania state troopers have even been known in Chester County to use decoy stops. They set up the lights for the checkpoints so that drivers approaching see the stop and are able to take a detour route. However, that route has a checkpoint along it. So, even if you have your eyes peeled for checkpoints, you could still be caught.

Consequences for DUI depend largely on how many prior convictions a person has and the blood-alcohol content (BAC) that person allegedly had at the time of arrest. For a BAC between .08 and .09 for a first time offender, a conviction typically means a $300 fine, at least six months probation, completing an alcohol highway safety school, and possibly an alcohol treatment program. For a BAC between .10 and .159, your license may be suspended for a year,  you may spend time in jail, and your fine could increase to up to $5,000. For subsequent DUIs, or for DUIs with an even higher BAC, the penalties rise, and you’ll likely be required to have an ignition interlock device installed on your car.

However, there are strict procedures police must follow at any DUI stop, including a checkpoint. Any irregularity could mean that evidence collected can be challenged, including the results of a Breathalyzer, which are notoriously inaccurate. You can also refuse any test. Penalties for a conviction go up severely if the driver refused, but it also means denying the prosecution evidence that could be used against you.

If you’ve stopped at a DUI checkpoint and are charged with DUI, Michael J. Skinner, an experienced West Chester DUI defense attorney, can help you fight the charges.

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West Chester DUI Lawyer Michael Skinner Examines Increased DUI and DUID Arrests In Pennsylvania

 

The end of 2011 closed out a decade of extreme and tough efforts by the Pennsylvania State Police on protecting the state’s roads and highways from drivers impaired by drugs and/or alcohol.  In 2010, Pensylvania arrests for driving under the influence set a record number and the police’s ninth consecutive year in which the number of DUI arrests by state police increased.  The amount of DUI arrests throughout the state showed an increase of nearly 5 percent from 16,900 DUI arrests in 2009 to 17,695 in 2010.

According to Commissioner Frank Noonan, “Protecting the public is the highest priority for the Pennsylvania State Police.”   Noonan states, “Taking impaired drivers off the road is one of the best ways to keep our citizens safe.”

A report from the Pennsylvania State of Independence with statistics given by Pennsylvania State Police, showed a decrease in the number of alcohol-related crashes investigated by troopers from 4,625 in 2009 to 4,595 in 2010; while, 2011 showed an increase in drug and alcohol-related fatal crashes. Correspondingly, driving under the influence of drugs (DUID) in Pennsylvania increased in 2011, as well.

While police are continually on the look-out for drunk and other impaired drivers, many people who have been charged with a DUI in West Chester and other cities in Pennsylvania’s are unclear on the state’s DUI laws, or how a DUI can affect their futures.  Being arrested for DUI can happen to anyone, including doctors, lawyers, teachers and many other respectable professionals. No matter what you do for a living, a DUI arrest may potentially have severe effects on your career, education and/or personal life.

DUI convictions can result in a driver’s license suspension, suspended driving privileges, jail time, Installation of an ignition interlock device, alcohol highway safety course and fines starting at $300 to $5,000 for a first DUI in Pennsylvania, and depending on your Blood alcohol level (BAC).

Other common DUI charges include:

A DUI arrest is scary and has the power to harm many aspects of a person’s life, but there are steps one can take after being charged with a DUI to help protect his/her rights.  For certain first time offenders who are charged with driving under the influence in Pennsylvania, the Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD) Program may be available. In many cases, this program permits dismissal of the DUI charges so the alleged offender can petition to have their record expunged. The DUI ARD program usually lasts for six months.

Call (267) 388-3476 to set up a free consultation with an experience West Chester DUI lawyer or visit http://www.skinnerlawfirm.net to learn more about the Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD) Program and other alternative options you may have after receiving a DUI charge in West Chester and surrounding areas.

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West Chester Traffic Crimes Attorney Discusses Law Enforcement Traffic Stop Increases during 2011 Holiday Season

During this 2011 holiday season, Pennsylvania state police are out in full force.  The standard increase in sheer number of officers alone is a given as well as their low tolerance level for criminal traffic offenses.  We assume they are looking for speeders and drunk drivers, and they are; however, this year, Pennsylvania state police are also seriously cracking down on distracted drivers.

If you live in West Chester, there is a good chance you have discovered the increased enforcement detail on Thanksgiving weekend. Police’s main goal is to promote traffic safety by ticketing distracted driving habits such as cell phone use while driving, texting and failure to obey the “move over” law when passing a stopped emergency vehicle.  Police are also on the look-out for DWI, conducting DWI (driving while intoxicated) sobriety enforcement details more regularly during the holiday season, resulting in more DWIs and other West Chester traffic offenses in Chester County, Pennsylvania.

No doubt, once you are stopped for a violation, it’s much easier for a police officer to further investigate and charge a man, woman or minor with multiple, sometimes unrelated crimes.  Even what seems like a normal speeding traffic stop can turn into multiple tickets and even an arrest.  Just last week a West Chester man was pulled over when police smelled an odor of burnt marijuana in the car and after police searched the vehicle, the man was charged with drug paraphernalia, suspected marijuana and a weapons violation.  All of the charges were further heightened in severity as the man was also driving with a suspended license.

When a regular traffic stop turns into a more serious situation, such as being pulled over for speeding and arrested for a West Chester DUI, it’s important to understand your rights, options and the consequences of your choices, whether you enter a plea or go to trial. If you choose not to fight the charges against you, punishments vary depending on the offense(s) you are charged with.  For example, driving with a suspended or revoked license due to DUI in Pennsylvania charge can have associated fines up to $500 and imprisonment for 60 to 90 days, and multiple misdemeanor offenses may turn your case into a felony.

The holidays are supposed to be a time with family and friends, not locked away in a jail cell.  Please, if you have been arrested or charged with one or multiple criminal traffic offenses in West Chester, obtain a Pennsylvania criminal defense attorney to help you understand your options and go over the details of your case so you can.  It is the only way to begin building a defense that helps protect your driving privileges and other rights.  From Skinner Law Firm, drive safe and Happy Holidays!

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