DUI Suspensions and more – License Options

In Pennsylvania, there are many offenses that, if convicted, carry with them a license suspension for the offender. DUI, certain levels of speeding, possession of a controlled substance and even underage drinking are a few of these offenses.

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West Chester Criminal Defense Lawyer

When someone has a DUI suspension or one of these other many offenses, their lives are impacted in major ways. Many will not be able to get to work as easily or at all, and even others may not be permitted to stay at their current job or take certain types of employment due to the license suspension.

Pennsylvania has two main types of licenses that may, possibly, provide an offender with the chance to operate a motor vehicle for limited purposes and at limited times despite the suspensions that are in effect.

First, there is a possibility, even with certain DUI offenders, of getting an “Occupational Limited License.” In Pennsylvania, this permits the qualifying offender to operate a motor vehicle only when necessary for work, study, or medical treatment.

Second, there is what is termed a “Probationary License.” This is a once in a lifetime license able to be obtained by qualifying offenders who have had their license suspended for more than 5 years. They must have served a portion of the suspension before applying and the length required to first be served depends on the circumstances of the specific offender and the number of violations/length of suspension. If one qualifies for this license, they are permitted to drive between 6 a.m. and 7 p.m.

An experienced attorney should be contacted to discuss eligibility as well as the process of applying for either one of these licenses.

 


 

The above listed information does not include the entire crimes code, annotations, amendments or any recent changes that may be relevant.  The information provided is for informational purposes only and may not reflect the most current legal developments.  These materials are not intended, and should not be taken, as legal advice on any particular set of facts or circumstances.  It is intended solely for informational purposes.

Michael DiCindio is a West Chester criminal defense lawyer who represents individuals accused of crimes throughout all of Chester County, including West Chester, Phoenixville, Malvern, Coatesville, Paoli, Downingtown, Tredyffrin, West Goshen, Honey Brook, Oxford, Devon, Pottstown, Chesterbrook, Parkesburg, Kennett Square, and Avondale.

DUI Law – Push for Ignition Interlock for First Offense DUI

Mike DiCindio West Chester, PA DUI Attorney
Contact West Chester DUI attorney Mike DiCindio to discuss DUI defense options

Recently, there has been word that there will be a renewed push for new legislation requiring first time DUI offenders to install an ignition interlock system in their vehicle once convicted. Currently, this is not a requirement to a first offense DUI sentence in Pennsylvania. Instead, it becomes a requirement with subsequent offenses.

Ignition interlock systems are expensive and burdensome. Generally, the system does not permit a driver to start the ignition of the vehicle until they have provided a breath sample that does not contain a blood alcohol content. Once they have blown into the system with a clean breath test, the vehicle will be able to start. Also, at certain times while the vehicle is operating, the system will require a breath sample from the driver.

These systems are not cheap. Typically they are leased from an approved vendor, still the cost is great. Beyond that, there has been concerns about the effectiveness of the system because they only test for alcohol, not other controlled substances.

Requiring this for first offense DUI offenders will greatly increase the severity of the first offense DUI sentence a long with the cost. And while there are other states that now have this requirement for DUI first offenders, it remains to be seen if Pennsylvania will be added to that list.

If you or a loved one has been charged with a DUI offense – contact West Chester criminal defense lawyer, Mike DiCindio today.

 


 

The above listed information does not include the entire crimes code, annotations, amendments or any recent changes that may be relevant.  The information provided is for informational purposes only and may not reflect the most current legal developments.  These materials are not intended, and should not be taken, as legal advice on any particular set of facts or circumstances.  It is intended solely for informational purposes.

Michael DiCindio is a West Chester criminal defense lawyer who represents individuals accused of crimes throughout all of Chester County, including West Chester, Phoenixville, Malvern, Coatesville, Paoli, Downingtown, Tredyffrin, West Goshen, Honey Brook, Oxford, Devon, Pottstown, Chesterbrook, Parkesburg, Kennett Square, and Avondale.

Pennsylvania DUI Defense: Top Three Arguments

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Contact West Chester DUI lawyer Mike DiCindio to discuss defense options

When someone has been arrested and charged with a DUI offense in West Chester, or anywhere in Pennsylvania – there are three types of common DUI defense arguments (among others) to the DUI charges. Theses three general DUI defenses are:

 

  1. The Law
  2. The Facts
  3. The Science

 

The Law

 

When officers conduct vehicle stops, they are required to have either reasonable suspicion or probable cause, depending on the circumstances. If the officer did not possess one of these legal justifications the stop of the vehicle will be found to be unconstitutional and the evidence flowing from it will be “suppressed.” There is a large body of case law that addressed the legal sufficiency of traffic stops by law enforcement in DUI matters. An experienced DUI criminal defense lawyer should be familiar with the law and decide whether a motion should be filed to contest the basis for the vehicle stop.

 

The Facts

 

In many DUI cases, in particular, DUI cases where the person charged refused chemical testing and where the Commonwealth is alleging that the driver was “incapable of safe driving” the facts become the focal point of the case. In order to prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt, the Commonwealth must show that the individual was incapable of safely driving due to the amount of alcohol he/she drank without the added benefit of an objective scientific test (i.e. blood test/breath test results). Police officers typically cite the same, or similar core group of observations that led them to believe the driver was incapable of safe driving due to the level of alcohol they consumed. Typically, these observations include glassy, watery or bloodshot eyes, the odor of alcohol, sluggish responses, and more. A skilled criminal defense lawyer will analyze the facts and circumstances of a particular case and prepare an argument to show why the Commonwealth’s evidence does not support the beyond a reasonable doubt standard and why the facts cited do not provide any insight into how much alcohol someone has consumed.

 

The Science

 

There are certain requirements that the breath and blood tests must follow in order to ensure accuracy in each case. If those methods/requirements are not followed the science behind the accuracy of the results may become an issue and may lead to a defense in a DUI case. It is the Commonwealth’s burden to present evidence sufficient to show that all of the scientific requirements have been met.  When they cannot, the accuracy of the chemical testing may be called into question or kept out of the case all together.

 

The above listed information are three overarching defense categories and by no means represent the entire body of potential DUI defenses available in any given case. When arrested for a DUI offense it is crucial to contact a skilled and knowledgeable DUI lawyer immediately to properly analyze your case and begin planning a defense strategy.

 


The above listed information does not include the entire crimes code, annotations, amendments or any recent changes that may be relevant.  The information provided is for informational purposes only and may not reflect the most current legal developments.  These materials are not intended, and should not be taken, as legal advice on any particular set of facts or circumstances.  It is intended solely for informational purposes.

Michael DiCindio is a West Chester criminal defense lawyer who represents individuals accused of crimes throughout all of Chester County, including West Chester, Phoenixville, Malvern, Coatesville, Paoli, Downingtown, Tredyffrin, West Goshen, Honey Brook, Oxford, Devon, Pottstown, Chesterbrook, Parkesburg, Kennett Square, and Avondale.

 

PBT Tests – When can the results be used against you?

 

A “PBT test”, or preliminary breath test, is a device that allows an officer to test a person’s blood alcohol concentration without transporting them for a formal breath or blood test. These PBT’s are typically utilized by officers in DUI, drunk driving and underage drinking cases. While commonly used and accepted in practice, on scene by law enforcement officers, the results from these PBT devices have been found to be inadmissible in Court. There are certain limited times when they will be admissible – when specific requirements are met. (Which is not common) Also, they are permitted for certain pre-arrest investigative purposes.

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Contact West Chester DUI lawyer Mike DiCindio to discuss your case

In 2009 the Court in Commonwealth v. Brigidi made clear that the results of PBT tests may be admissible in certain cases (underage drinking matters). This was only if the results were obtained by a device that was approved and listed in the Pennsylvania Bulletin. Further, there was the added requirement of the device being calibrated and correctly checked for accuracy.

In the real world application, PBT tests are typically used for two major things. First, in underage drinking prosecutions, in order to determine if the person underage was consuming an alcoholic beverage. Second, in DUI and drunk driving cases when the officer administers a PBT at the scene of the vehicle stop in order to develop probable cause that the driver of the vehicle was under the influence of alcohol. This would then be a factor in determining if the individual should be arrested and transported for a formal breath or blood test.

If you have been charged with DUI, drunk driving or underage drinking and a PBT was administered by the officers conducting the investigation, it is important to have a skilled criminal defense attorney examine the evidence and represent you in Court in order to protect against inadmissible evidence being used against you.

In West Chester and the Chester County area, law enforcement officers utilize PBT tests regularly. A skilled and knowledgeable Chester County DUI and criminal defense attorney should be contacted if you or a loved one is in this position.

Contact Mike DiCindio today to schedule your free initial consultation and go to the DUI and Underage Drinking sections of the DiCindio Law website to read more about these crimes.

 


 

The above listed information does not include the entire crimes code, annotations, amendments or any recent changes that may be relevant.  The information provided is for informational purposes only and may not reflect the most current legal developments.  These materials are not intended, and should not be taken, as legal advice on any particular set of facts or circumstances.  Please contact DiCindio Law for a consultation and to discuss what law is relevant to your case.

Mike DiCindio is a criminal defense lawyer who represents individuals accused of crimes throughout all of Chester County, including West Chester, Phoenixville, Malvern, Coatesville, Paoli, Downingtown, Tredyffrin, West Goshen, Honey Brook, Oxford, Devon, Pottstown, Chesterbrook, Parkesburg, Kennett Square, and Avondale as well as in Montgomery County, Lancaster County, Delaware County, Philadelphia County, Bucks County and Berks County.

 

 

Holiday Season = Parties, Drinks and DUI Checkpoints

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If arrested at a Chester County DUI checkpoint contact Mike DiCindio Chester County DUI Lawyer

With the holiday season fast approaching it is important to be aware that police officers in Chester County and elsewhere in the surrounding areas will be conducting DUI checkpoints. Police utilize sobriety checkpoints in their effort to enforce the drunk driving laws in the state, arrest impaired drivers and keep the roads safer for others. While they may seem completely discretionary and random,  in Pennsylvania sobriety checkpoints must conform to judicially created guidelines in order to be constitutional.

When the police decide that they want to conduct a DUI checkpoint, there is a process and procedure that must be followed. The process and guidelines for a constitutionally acceptable DUI checkpoint are known as the Tarbert – Blouse guidelines. This name comes from the two cases in which the guidelines were first announced. The goal of the guidelines was to safeguard against completely arbitrary roadblocks. Further, it makes sure that constitutional rights are not infringed upon at any time during the course of the DUI checkpoint.

The five guidelines that were adopted by the Court in the Blouse case that will allow a checkpoint to be constitutionally appropriate are as follows:

(1) the vehicle stop must be brief and must not include a physical search;

(2) sufficient warning of the existence of the checkpoint is a MUST;

(3) the decision to conduct a checkpoint, as well as the decisions as to time and place for the checkpoint, must be subject to prior administrative approval;

(4) the choice of time and place for the checkpoint must be based on local experience as to where and when intoxicated drivers are likely to be traveling; and

(5) the decision as to which vehicles to stop at the checkpoint must be established by administratively pre-fixed, objective standards, and must not be left to the unfettered discretion of the officers at the scene.
                                                        (See, Commonwealth v. Worthy,  957 A.2d 720 (PA. 2008))

Law enforcement must keep the records of compliance with all of these guidelines. It is not uncommon that while running a DUI checkpoint, some of the guidelines may be missed or not followed. For example, if it is a particularly busy night and the DUI checkpoint has created a large amount of traffic, police cannot arbitrarily begin to allow cars to pass the checkpoint without being stopped – there must be an established “choke point” where, if traffic reaches, the police will then allow cars to pass the checkpoint until it has cleared. Any of these missteps will turn a vehicle stop into an unconstitutional vehicle stop.

If you have been arrested for DUI as a result of a sobriety checkpoint vehicle stop, contact Mike DiCindio directly in order to discuss your case.

 


The above listed information does not include the entire crimes code, annotations, amendments or any recent changes that may be relevant.  The information provided is for informational purposes only and may not reflect the most current legal developments.  These materials are not intended, and should not be taken, as legal advice on any particular set of facts or circumstances.  Please contact DiCindio Law for a consultation and to discuss what law is relevant to your case.

Mike DiCindio is a criminal defense lawyer who represents individuals accused of crimes throughout all of Chester County, including West Chester, Phoenixville, Malvern, Coatesville, Paoli, Downingtown, Tredyffrin, West Goshen, Honey Brook, Oxford, Devon, Pottstown, Chesterbrook, Parkesburg, Kennett Square, and Avondale as well as in Montgomery County, Lancaster County, Delaware County, Philadelphia County, Bucks County and Berks County.

 

 

DUI law amendment – New and Important Changes

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Contact West Chester DUI lawyer Mike DiCindio to discuss your case today.

On October 27, 2014, a new Act was passed that has amended the DUI law in Pennsylvania in a few ways. While all are important changes, one in particular solidifies that a second offense DUI offender who has refused testing in now facing a maximum sentence of 5 years.

In 2013, in the case of Commonwealth v. Musau, the Pennsylvania Superior Court ruled that the sentence of 90 days to 5 years of imprisonment was illegal, and ruled that the maximum sentence allowable for a second offense DUI when the individual refuses chemical testing is six months.

A skilled DUI lawyer should be consulted with no delay after being arrested for a DUI offense.

The law, as now amended, has addressed the language in the statute that created the argument advanced by Musau’s attorney. Therefore, now a second offense DUI when the accused refuses chemical testing is clearly a charge punishable by a 5 year maximum.

It is now crucial that when one is accused of a second offense DUI and they refused chemical testing that a skilled and knowledgeable DUI attorney is retained to evaluate the case and properly advise and guide one through the process.

Contact Mike DiCindio today to schedule your free consultation.

“Per se DUI in Pennsylvania”

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Contact West Chester DUI lawyer and Criminal Defense Lawyer Mike DiCindio

Under the current Pennsylvania DUI Laws, the prosecution does not always need to prove that a driver was “impaired” or “intoxicated” while operating a motor vehicle in order to prove they were guilty of DUI. The Pennsylvania DUI statute as it currently stands provides for what are called, “per se” levels – levels of drugs or alcohol, that if found in the blood within two hours of operating a motor vehicle, one is guilty of the offense of DUI.

In Pennsylvania the legal limit for alcohol is .08%. Therefore, if someone is found to have a blood alcohol content of .08% or above, within two hours of operating a motor vehicle, he/she is guilty of “per se” DUI whether or not impaired or manifesting the signs of intoxication.

While this may be true by the letter of the law, in a practical application there are very few situations where someone should be charged with DUI without manifesting signs of intoxication or consumption. This is because before an officer is permitted to transport someone for chemical testing, there must be some facts or indications that provide a legal justification to take him/her for such a test – the blood test must be supported by a sufficient level of legal suspicion. (This is in conjunction with the implied consent law discussed in a previous post)

When someone is charged with a DUI, it is crucial to have an experienced lawyer thoroughly analyze the facts and circumstances surrounding your DUI arrest before taking any action or waiving your rights to contest the charges. There is often an argument to be made that the police officer was not legally justified in taking a breath or blood test in the first place.

Contact Mike DiCindio directly to schedule your free consultation today. 

***This blog is made available by the law firm publisher for educational purposes and to provide general information, not to provide specific legal advice.  By reading, you understand that there is no attorney client relationship between you and the publisher. The blog should not be used, nor is it meant to be, as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed professional attorney. This blog also does not discuss all aspects of the topics involved or the bill that has been placed into effect***

When can a Police Officer stop a car for suspicion of DUI / Drunk Driving?

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Contact West Chester DUI lawyer and Criminal Defense Lawyer Mike DiCindio

What does a Police Officer need to observe before he is permitted to legally stop a vehicle under suspicion of DUI / drunk driving?

 

Under the vehicle code, a police officer in Chester County, or anywhere in Pennsylvania, may conduct an investigatory detention if he has reasonable suspicion to believe that a motorist violated a provision of the motor vehicle code.  (For example, he suspects the driver is committing a DUI or drunk driving offense)  In order to establish grounds for reasonable suspicion an officer must, “articulate specific observations which, in conjunction with reasonable inference derived from those observations, led him reasonably to conclude, in light of his experience, that criminal activity was afoot and that the person he stopped was involved in that activity.” Commonwealth v. Basinger, 982 A.2d 121, 125 (Pa. Super. 2009); Commonwealth v. Sands, 887 A. 2d 261, 272 (Pa. Super. 2005). Further, a traffic stop may be conducted based on reasonable suspicion particularly in cases where the suspicion is whether the driver is operating under the influence – or DUI / drunk driving. See, Commonwealth v. Sands, 887 A. 2d 261, 272 (Pa. Super. 2005).

When reasonable suspicion exists, a vehicle stop stop shall only be valid if the stop furthers the purpose behind the stop. Commonwealth v. Chase, 960 A.2d 108 (Pa. 2008).  In other words, the police officer must be able to gain more evidence from conducting the stop.  (Was the driving tired and that is why he was swerving or was he really DUI?  Does he smell like alcohol?  Did he just swerve by accident?)  Stopping the vehicle must provide an officer with more evidence – to further investigate, and confirm or dispel the suspicions.  In cases where the stop would not provide any more evidence that may confirm or dispel an officer’s suspicions, he/she must possess the higher standard of probable cause before pulling a vehicle over.

A criminal defense attorney must understand the law and be willing to fight for his client in every DUI case. courthouse2

In Chester County, a skilled criminal defense lawyer may be able to file a motion to suppress the stop of a vehicle in a DUI case when the evidence shows the officer did not have reasonable suspicion.  Often times, an officer may not be able to provide or testify to enough details about an individuals driving to rise to the level of reasonable suspicion.  In those cases, a criminal attorney will file the motion to suppress, take testimony of the officer, and argue to the Court that the officer conducted an illegal stop.  If the motion the defense attorney files is granted, the evidence flowing from the illegal stop is suppressed – the DUI will not be able to stand.

While, “the determination of whether an officer had reasonable suspicion that criminality was afoot so as to justify an investigatory detention is an objective one, which must be considered in light of the totality of the circumstances.” Commonwealth v. Holmes, 14 A.3d 89 (Pa. 2011); citing, Commonwealth v. Chase, 960 A.2d 108, 120 (Pa. 2008) (“[r]easonable suspicion sufficient to stop a motorist must be viewed from the standpoint of an objectively reasonable police officer” (citing, Ornelas v. United States, 517 U.S. 690 (1996))); Commonwealth v. Rogers, 849 A.2d 1185, 1189 (Pa. 2004).  It is still something that a criminal defense lawyer MUST be analyze in every DUI / drunk driving case, or in any case involving a motor vehicle stop, before proceeding.

If you have a pending DUI / drunk driving case – contact Mike DiCindio today for your free consultation.

 

 

***This blog is made available by the law firm publisher for educational purposes and to provide general information, not to provide specific legal advice.  By reading, you understand that there is no attorney client relationship between you and the publisher. The blog should not be used, nor is it meant to be, as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed professional attorney.***

DUI – Implied Consent and Refusals

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Contact West Chester DUI lawyer and Criminal Defense Lawyer Mike DiCindio

           In the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, as a condition of maintaining a driver’s license, all drivers are subject to the implied consent requirements of the Motor Vehicle Code – thus, a driver must submit to blood and breath tests under appropriate circumstances. Practically speaking, what this means is that by operation of law, a person has already “consented” to a chemical test of his blood or breath by having a license/operating a motor vehicle in the Commonwealth. This becomes important in driving under the influence ( DUI ) cases where one is arrested under suspicion of DUI/DWI. While under the law, there is no right to knowingly consent to blood or breath testing because one has impliedly done so by operating a vehicle or having a license; there is a right to a knowing and conscious refusal. In order to properly inform an accused of these rights, there are warnings that must be given before a refusal can be deemed knowing and conscious. The warnings are meant to provide the accused with the rights that he/she does or does not have before refusing to submit to the chemical test of his/her blood or breath.  Further, they are meant to inform one of what the consequences of the refusal may be. Many times, the circumstances or facts show that the arresting officer did not correctly inform the accused of these warnings.

        When an accused refuses to submit to blood or breath testing, the penalties can be severe. They include added license suspensions and the ability of the Court to sentence as if the individual in a more severe or harsh manner. The issue of whether or not a refusal was knowing and conscious must be analyzed by an experienced criminal defense attorney. Correctly and thoroughly litigating this issue can have a drastic impact on the outcome of a driving under the influence refusal case. Contact DiCindio Law LLC for a free consultation today.

***This blog is made available by the law firm publisher for educational purposes and to provide general information, not to provide specific legal advice.  By reading, you understand that there is no attorney client relationship between you and the publisher. The blog should not be used, nor is it meant to be, as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed professional attorney.***