In a tragic story reported by the Associated Press in the New York Post, we learned about the deaths of three young people in a traffic accident in Bethel Park near Pittsburgh this month. According to the story, three young women were in an SUV when it collided with a utility pole on Library Road.
Tragically, the driver, a 21-year old single mother, and two passengers (ages 23 and 17) were killed in the crash. A fourth passenger, a 21-year-old female, was thrown from the SUV and was transported to a Pittsburgh hospital where she remained in critical condition.
When you hear of a driver charged with DUI or driving under the influence, you assume that the driver was drunk. However, while driving under the influence of alcohol is common, driving under the influence of marijuana is also become a growing problem in Pennsylvania and throughout the United States.
DUI laws in Pennsylvania prohibit drivers from operating vehicles under the influence of alcohol OR controlled substances, including marijuana. This is the case whether you are driving “while impaired” or “under the influence” of marijuana. In either case, you are breaking the law because marijuana use is still illegal in Pennsylvania.
Most drivers have heard of reckless driving; however, some drivers don’t believe that reckless driving is a serious offense. The penalties for a reckless driving conviction can be serious. If you are intoxicated at the time of your arrest, you can be charged with ‘wet’ reckless driving. Is there a difference? Should you accept a wet reckless driving charge instead of a DUI charge? These are some of the questions that clients ask when they contact my office. Below is a brief summary of what I tell my clients when they come in for their consultation.
Reckless Driving in Pennsylvania
Under Pennsylvania law, a driver can be charged with reckless driving when the driver operates a vehicle in “willful or wanton disregard” for the safety of other people or property. The statute is intended to punish drivers who place other people in jeopardy because of the way they are driving. Examples of reckless driving include drag racing, driving the wrong way, and excessive speed.
Penalties for reckless driving includes a minimum fine of $200, points on your driver’s license, up to 90 days in jail, and suspension of your license for six months. In addition, if you cause an injury, the minimum fine is increased to $1,000. For a reckless charge resulting in death, the fine increases to $25,000 and minimum jail time can be up to 12 months.
Wet Reckless Driving in Pennsylvania
If you are impaired by alcohol at the time of your traffic stop, you can be charged with wet reckless driving. An alcohol-related reckless driving charge carries the same penalties as a reckless driving conviction with one addition. If convicted of a wet reckless driving, you must complete an alcohol education or treatment plan.
Wet Reckless Driving vs. DUI Charges
If you have the opportunity to accept the lesser charge of wet reckless driving, you should discuss the matter with your Edinboro DUI attorney. Pleading guilty to a wet reckless driving charge usually carries less severe penalties than a normal DUI charge. However, there are many factors that a prosecutor will consider before agreeing to accept a plea to wet reckless driving instead o f a DUI charge.
As with all DUI charges, you must take a wet reckless driving charge seriously. The penalties can restrict your ability to get to school or work. You can fact increased insurance rates and be required to complete alcohol treatment plans. Hiring an experienced Edinboro DUI attorney is your first step in protecting your legal rights. Remember, any criminal charge is not a conviction. You should discuss your situation with an experienced criminal defense attorney before accepting any plea.
Call an Edinboro DUI Defense Attorney for Help
If you have been charged with reckless driving or driving under the influence, contact our office immediately. Call The Travis Law Firm toll free at (800) 401-2066 to schedule a free legal consultation with one of our attorneys.
With Memorial Day right around the corner, the unofficial beginning of summer will mean more people out on the lakes and waterways enjoying the weather in boats. Unfortunately, many boaters will mix alcohol and boating. For those who are caught drinking and boating, they face serious penalties under Pennsylvania’s boating under the influence laws.
Memorial Day Weekend is the unofficial kickoff to the summer vacation season. Erie and the surrounding areas have plenty of holiday events and activities to keep you busy. However, if you are traveling for the holiday weekend, you need to beware that with the increase in traffic, you increase of being involved in a car crash also increases. Even if you are just traveling across town, you need to be very careful on the roads over the holiday weekend.
Below are several tips from our Erie DUI defense attorney to help keep you legal and safe over Memorial Day Weekend.
A News Release by the Governor’s Highway Safety Association (GHSA) last week stated that a comprehensive update of the 2015 report Drug-Impaired Driving: A Guide for States was being released. The report provides data, research, and other information to help states and policymakers deal with drug-impaired driving. The report has updated data on drug use by drivers, new state laws, programs, drug-related crashes, and research from more than 30 other sources.
According to the News Release, drug-impaired driving has surpassed drunk driving in fatal accidents. In 2015, 43 percent of drivers killed had drugs in their system; this number exceeds the number of drunk drivers killed in accidents during that year.
Underage drinking is a serious problem in the United States. From high schools to college campuses, young people are drinking alcohol and getting into trouble. One program is working to educate teenagers about the dangers of drunk driving by showing them what it feels like to drive while drunk.
The Drunk Suit
No, teens aren’t being allowed to drink and drive, but they are being given a chance to feel what it is like to drive while drunk thanks to the drunk suit and beer goggles. Ford Driving Skills for Life holds events in several states (hopefully they will expand to all states) that give teens the opportunity to put on the suit and goggles to see what it feels like to try to drive when they are drunk. It is a very eye-opening experience for many young people — it certainly was for Jeff Rossen of The Today Show.
In a recent story for the show, Rossen tried the drunk suit and beer goggles. He failed the field sobriety test even though he says he was trying as hard as he could to walk a straight line. The same was true when he had to try to kick over an orange cone. Even more revealing was when he got behind the wheel of a vehicle.
Before Rossen put on the suit and goggles, he made it through the driving course without touching one cone. However, after putting on the drunk suit and beer goggles, Rossen was unable to maneuver through the course without running over the cones.
Erie Drunk Driving Defense Attorney
Not all students experience the drunk driving course. Their first experience with drunk driving is when they have had too much at a party, and they decide they can make it home. Unfortunately, it is easy to make a bad decision when you are intoxicated. A night out with your friends can quickly turn into a nightmare that ruins your college education, family, or career.
However, you don’t have to let a drunk driving charge ruin your life. There are options! Our Erie drunk driving attorney has successfully defended individuals against DUI charges. You must remember that being charged with driving under the influence is NOT the same as being found guilty of drunk driving. The police and the prosecution must present evidence sufficient to prove you were legally drunk or alcohol impaired your ability to drive.
In some cases, the police officer may not have had probable cause for pulling you over. If so, all evidence can be thrown out. In other cases, the police officer may not have been properly trained in administering a breathalyzer test, or he may not have provided adequate or correct instructions for the field sobriety tests. Until you consult with an Erie drunk driving defense attorney, you won’t know if you have a valid legal defense to the criminal charges.
Call NOW to Speak with An Erie Criminal Defense Attorney
If you have been charged with a crime, exercise your right to remain silent except for requesting an attorney. You have the legal right to have an attorney present BEFORE you answer any questions. Don’t give up your legal rights!
Call The Travis Law Firm at (800) 401-2066 to schedule a free legal consultation with one of our Erie criminal defense lawyers. We have extensive experience representing clients who have been charged with a Pennsylvania DUI offense.
If you work in law enforcement or if you are a bartender, you may already be familiar with Blackout Wednesday. Blackout Wednesday is the unofficial name given to the day before Thanksgiving Day, also known as Thanksgiving Eve. The reason why this day has earned such a dark name has to do with alcohol consumption. Blackout Wednesday has become the day when Americans consume more alcohol than any other day of the year.
Some people believe this is because many people do not work on Thanksgiving Day; therefore, they feel comfortable indulging in some pre-holiday cheer. According to other sources, Blackout Wednesday is a bigger drinking day than St. Patrick’s Day or New Year’s Eve. They claim Thanksgiving Eve has become one of the worst nights for drunk driving in some areas. In Pennsylvania, this may be the case.
Many people use alternative methods of transportation in Pennsylvania other than a passenger motor vehicle or public transportation. You will see people riding bicycles, scooters, and even skateboards to get to where they need to go, especially around Pennsylvania colleges and universities. Many people are walking to work in order to save money and improve health. In the country, you’re likely to see the Amish using their horses and buggies.
Unfortunately, many of these people think nothing of using an alternative mode of transportation after having a few alcoholic drinks. After all, they’re not driving a motor vehicle, so they think they are safe. What they fail to realize is how Pennsylvania’s DUI laws are worded.
Any Method of Transportation
In the Pennsylvania Vehicle Code, a vehicle is defined as anything which can transport a person, which would include a bicycle and Amish buggy. Even though these vehicles don’t have motors and no driver’s license is required to operate these vehicles, in some situations they are viewed in the same manner as a car. A charge of driving under the influence or DUI is one of these situations.
Being arrested for a DUI is an unnerving experience regardless of how it happens to you. But falling for one of these myths can be extremely overwhelming and can cause you to make mistakes related to handling your legal defense. Consulting with an experienced Erie DUI defense attorney is one of the most important things you can do to protect yourself and your freedom. What follows are three common myths that can land you in hot water.
Myth #1: Since There Are Mandatory Jail Sentences for DUIs in Pennsylvania, I Am Going to Jail if Arrested
It does not necessarily mean that you will be going to jail even if you are arrested for DUI. Alternative programs including the intermediate punishment program or the accelerated rehabilitative disposition program may allow you to receive or reduced sentence if you are indeed convicted. An experienced DUI lawyer can help negotiate a plea bargain, which may keep you out of jail.
Myth #2: No One Can Prove I Am Guilty of DUI Since I Did Not Submit to the Breath or Blood Test
You give up some of your rights when you refuse to submit to a chemical test when stopped for suspected DUI. The two types of chemical tests in Pennsylvania are a breath test with a breathalyzer machine and a blood draw at a hospital. By skipping the test, you runt the risk of being convicted for DUI anyways and you’ll also lose your license for an additional one-year period. Although you do have the right to refuse, it’s a right you’ll definitely pay for. There are more stipulations surrounding this option, so talking to a PA DUI Lawyer at The Travis Law Firm about your legal rights is highly recommended.
Myth #3: My First DUI is Not a Big Deal, so I Can Handle the Defense Myself
Being arrested for a DUI in the state of Pennsylvania is a serious matter and can lead to severe consequences. It is imperative that you reach out to an experienced Erie criminal defense attorney as soon as possible after you have been charged. Only a knowledgeable DUI attorney can investigate all possible avenues for resolution and advise you about next steps. An attorney is also better equipped to determine whether or not the police have violated any of your constitutional rights. Get your free confidential consultation with an experienced Erie DUI defense attorney today – your freedom may depend upon it.