Posts Tagged ‘DUI Attorney Berks County’

Spotlight Issue: DUI law update – ignition interlock limited license

Wednesday, September 27th, 2017

A law passed in 2016 changing the requirement for ignition interlock is now in effect as of August 25, 2017. What does Act 33 of 2016 mean for people convicted of DUI in Berks County? Let’s review what the law was prior to August 25th.

Under the old law, a person who was convicted of a first-offense DUI which carried a license suspension was usually eligible for an Occupational Limited License (OLL) after a certain period of the suspension had passed. This type of license (sometimes called a “bread and butter” license) allowed first-time DUI offenders to drive for limited purposes, including work and medical appointments. DUI ARD defendants were not (and still are not) eligible to receive OLL’s during their license suspension period. DUI offenders convicted of a second or subsequent DUI within 10 years were required to install the ignition interlock for a period of time after their driving privileges were restored. First time DUI offenders were never required to install ignition interlock.

So what has changed? First, DUI offenders are, for the most part, no longer eligible to receive OLL’s during their DUI suspension. This is also the case for DUI offenders with a separate suspension for refusing to submit to chemical testing under §1547. Second, all DUI offenders, except those in the ARD program and those charged with first offense general impairment (BAC below .08) are now required to have an ignition interlock installed in their vehicle for at least 1 year. During that time with the ignition interlock, the DUI offender is given an “ignition interlock limited license” which permits them to drive as long as the vehicle they are driving has been equipped with an approved ignition interlocks system.

The new law allows for exceptions to be made if the DUI offender does not own a vehicle or if installing an ignition interlock in all vehicles owned by the DUI offender would impose a financial hardship. Additionally, DUI offenders who drive a work vehicle can be exempt from the requirement to install the ignition interlock on the work vehicle, but only if is not driven for personal use.

This change is good news for a lot of Berks County DUI offenders. First-time DUI offenders are eligible to apply for the ignition interlock limited license as soon as their license suspension becomes effective. This means that there is little, if any, time when they are unable to drive. Repeat DUI offenders are allowed to apply for the ignition interlock limited license once they have completed half of their suspension. The new law makes it easier for DUI offenders to continue working and going to school while hopefully ensuring that they are doing so safely.

If you’ve been charged with a DUI in Reading, PA and have questions about when you are eligible to receive your ignition interlock limited license, contact our experienced Berks County DUI attorneys today at 610-372-5128 or info@enmlaw.com.

Spotlight Issue: Update on DUI license suspensions in Pennsylvania

Wednesday, May 31st, 2017

In 2016, the US Supreme Court issued a decision in Birchfield v. North Dakota which changed the way that DUI cases are handled in Pennsylvania. Read more about that decision here. One issue that the Birchfield Court seemed to leave alone was civil penalties for a driver refusing to submit to chemical testing (blood or breath test). But, the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court has now addressed the issue directly following the Birchfield decision.

In Boseman v. Department of Transportation, Bureau of Driver Licensing, the defendant was arrested for suspicion of DUI and was asked to submit to a blood test. The police said that she refused to submit to the test and her driver’s license was suspended for 1 year as a result of that refusal. In her appeal, the defendant argued two issues. First, that she should have been given a second chance to submit to the blood test before the police decided that she had refused. Second, because of the new requirements under Birchfield, the defendant argued that the police should have obtained a search warrant before requesting that she submit to the blood test.

In its decision, the Commonwealth Court said that the police were not required to give the defendant a second chance to take the blood test. The Court said that the police are not required to try to convince drivers to try to take the test or wait for them to make a decision. Further, once a driver has refused, he cannot later change his mind and agree to take the test.

The Commonwealth Court in Boseman also declined to overturn the defendant’s license suspension in light of the Birchfield decision. The Commonwealth Court essentially said that the Birchfield decision did not apply to the defendant’s case because her license was suspended in an administrative proceeding under the civil Implied Consent statute rather than as a result of a criminal penalty in a criminal statute. The Commonwealth Court further said that the Implied Consent warnings that were read to the defendant made it clear that it was not a crime to refuse to submit to the blood test, but that there would be a license suspension as a result of the refusal. Therefore, the Commonwealth Court said that the license suspension was appropriate.

What does this mean for Berks County drivers? At this time, the new DUI requirements under Birchfield do not apply to license suspensions for refusal to submit to chemical testing. The license suspension process will continue to be handled by PennDot as it was prior to the Birchfield decision. But, there is a lot of change on the criminal side of things and we’ll give you some updates on that soon.

If you’ve been charged with a DUI in Reading, PA and your license has been suspended because the police said you refused to submit to chemical testing, you may be able to fight your license suspension with PennDot. Contact our experienced Berks County DUI lawyers before you miss any deadlines. Call us at 610-372-5128 or email at info@enmlaw.com.

ENM Law News: Successful Rule 600 motion

Friday, January 27th, 2017

Rule 600 of PA Criminal Procedure guarantees a criminal defendant the right to a speedy trial. Failure to bring a case to trial within the required period of time results in dismissal of the charges. Read more about Rule 600 here.

A client recently came to Attorney Nevins because of a second offense DUI charge which had been filed against him in 2013. This client moved out of the state after the charge was filed and a bench warrant was issued as a result of his failure to appear at proceedings. During the time that he was living out of state, the client was stopped twice for unrelated traffic offenses. Local police informed PA police both times that the client was in custody on the warrant, but PA declined to extradite (bring him back to PA) on each occasion.

Attorney Nevins filed a Rule 600 motion and a hearing was scheduled. Upon reviewing Attorney Nevins’ arguments, the District Attorney’s office decided not to proceed with the case and the charge was dismissed. This client avoided a mandatory 90 day jail sentence for his second offense DUI.

If an old unresolved criminal case from Reading, PA has come back to haunt you, contact our experienced criminal law attorneys at 610-372-5128 or info@enmlaw.com to see if you have grounds for Rule 600 dismissal.

Spotlight Issue: Mandatory DUI Sentences

Thursday, October 16th, 2014

DUI
So you’ve been charged with a DUI in Berks County and you aren’t eligible for the Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD) program (see our prior posting about the DUI ARD program in Berks County). Now what? Our attorneys will meet with you to evaluate the best course of action for your case. Our attorneys will also be able to advise you on the length of sentence that you may be facing. DUI’s carry mandatory minimum sentences. These mandatory minimum sentences are usually based on how many prior DUI’s you have been convicted of in the past ten years and what your blood alcohol content (BAC) was at the time that you were driving. However, this isn’t always the case. Other factors affecting your sentence include, but are not limited to, whether you had drugs in your system when your blood was drawn, whether there were children in the car at the time you were stopped by the police and whether you were involved in a motor vehicle accident. Below are the mandatory minimum sentences for each DUI tier.

(Tier 1) .08 – .10 BAC OR any amount of alcohol which renders a person incapable of safely driving
1st Offense:                                                          6 months probation
2nd Offense:                                                         5 days incarceration
3rd or Subsequent Offense:                              10 days incarceration

(Tier 2) .10 – .16 BAC OR involved in an accident OR driving a commercial vehicle with a BAC .04 or above OR driving a school vehicle with BAC .02 or above OR driver is a minor with BAC .02 or above
1st Offense:                                                         48 hours incarceration
2nd Offense:                                                       30 days incarceration
3rd Offense:                                                        90 days incarceration
4th of Subsequent Offense:                             1 year incarceration

(Tier 3) .16 BAC and above OR any type of drug in blood OR refusal to submit to blood draw
1st Offense:                                                         72 hours incarceration
2nd Offense:                                                       90 days incarceration
3rd or Subsequent Offense:                            1 year incarceration

Are there ways to avoid mandatory minimum DUI jail sentences? Yes. A judge can give you credit towards your mandatory minimum sentence for any time that you’ve spent in an inpatient drug and alcohol treatment program. If you’re facing a second offense DUI, you may be eligible for the Berks County Second Time Offender’s Program (STOP). If you’re facing a third offense DUI, you may be eligible for the Berks County DUI Treatment Court program. Both STOP and DUI Treatment Court allow defendants to replace some of their jail sentence with house arrest or time spent in a halfway house. Our DUI defense attorneys can advise you on whether you are eligible for these programs. The application process for both STOP and DUI Treatment Court is very important and a mistake during the process can bar you from participating in the program. Regardless of whether you’re facing your first DUI or your third, it’s important that you are represented by a knowledgeable DUI attorney to help you get the best sentence possible. Contact us today at (610) 372-5128.

DUI SUSPENDED LICENSE – 1543(b)
There are also mandatory minimum sentences if you’re caught driving with a DUI suspended license. In Pennsylvania this is commonly called a 1543(b) charge. Your license is considered DUI suspended if the suspension was the result of DUI ARD or a DUI conviction. This is not to be confused with a 1543(a) charge which involves driving with a non-DUI suspended license and usually involves just paying a fine. You can be charged with a 1543(b) violation even if you don’t have a valid license. You will have a DUI suspended license until you have completed your sentence requirements, paid all restoration fees to Penn Dot and Penn Dot has issued you a valid license or has physically returned your license to you. 1543(b) mandatory sentences are based on whether you are driving with a BAC above .02%, have any controlled substance in your blood or refuse to submit to a blood draw and whether you have previously been convicted of 1543(b) violations. Below are the the mandatory minimum sentences for 1543(b) convictions.

BAC below .02% and no controlled substance in blood
1st Offense:                                                  60-90 days incarceration
2nd Offense:                                                60-90 days incarceration
3rd or Subsequent Offense:                     60-90 days incarceration
*You can expect the sentence to increase for each subsequent conviction

BAC above .02% OR controlled substance OR refuse to submit to blood draw
1st Offense:                                                  90 days incarceration
2nd Offense:                                                Not less than 6 months incarceration
3rd or Subsequent Offense:                     Not less than 2 years incarceration

Are there ways to avoid mandatory minimum sentences for 1543(b) violations? Yes. You may be eligible to participate in the Berks County Driving under Suspension Intermediate Punishment Program (DUS IPP). DUS IPP allows a defendant to serve a house arrest sentence in place of a portion of his or her jail sentence. Our DUI attorneys can advise you as to whether or not you are eligible for the DUS IP program and help you through the application process. Contact our office today at (610) 372-5128.

Spotlight Issue: What you need to know about DUI ARD in Berks County

Tuesday, September 9th, 2014

Have you been charged with a DUI in Berks County? You may be eligible for the Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD) program.  ARD is a program run by the Berks County District Attorney’s Office.  Generally, DUI ARD is available for those who do not have a prior criminal record.  Our attorneys can discuss with you whether or not you are eligible for the program so contact one of our DUI defense attorneys located in Reading, Pennsylvania today. Even if you have an old or minor prior criminal record, including a DUI more than 10 years ago, our attorneys may be able to help you get admission into the program.

There are many benefits to the ARD program for DUI’s.  Most importantly, if you complete the ARD program, you will never plead guilty to a DUI and the charge will be expunged from your record.  Also, the period of time that your license will be suspended is significantly less if you are in the ARD program as opposed to the suspension for a DUI conviction.  The length of time that your license will be suspended for a DUI is most often determined by your blood alcohol content (BAC), but could also be determined by other factors including, but not limited to

- whether you had drugs in your system

- whether there were children in the car

- your involvement in a motor vehicle accident.

The length of time that you would be in the DUI ARD program is also determined by those factors. Our attorneys can help to give you an idea of how long your license may be suspended and how long you may be in DUI ARD program.

So the ARD program sounds great.   How do you get started?  You will usually apply for the DUI ARD program at your preliminary hearing.  Our attorneys can help you fill out the DUI ARD application.  While at your preliminary hearing, you will be given an ARD court date.  In general, that is the date that you will be formally admitted into the DUI ARD program as long as you are approved for placement by the Berks County District Attorney’s Office and as long as you have completed the program requirements.  Program requirements usually include

- community service

- drug and alcohol assessments

- drug, alcohol or mental health treatment

- Alcohol Safe Driving class

- payment of court costs and fines.

You will be expected to surrender your driver’s license on the date that you are formally admitted into the DUI ARD program.

You’re not done as soon as you’re placed into the program though.  You may have additional requirements to complete while you’re in the DUI ARD program.  If the Berks County District Attorney’s Office believes that you are not completing the DUI ARD program as you should be, they will ask the court to terminate you from the program.  If that happens, you will be scheduled for an ARD Termination hearing in front of the court.  At that hearing the Berks County District Attorney’s Office will present the reasons why you should be terminated from the DUI ARD program.  Our attorneys can help you defend against ARD Termination.  Having representation at this hearing is crucial because termination from the DUI ARD program usually means that you will have to start the court process over again and either plead guilty to the DUI charge or go to trial.  However, even after ARD termination the court will sometimes allow reinstatement into the DUI ARD program.  Our attorneys can represent you at the ARD Reinstatement hearing.

It is important that you follow all of the steps correctly to be admitted in the Berks County DUI ARD program.  Our attorneys can help guide you along the way to make sure that you receive the best outcome possible for your case.

Attorney Dan Nevins Appears on DUI Panel Broadcast

Thursday, February 20th, 2014

Attorney Nevins served as a panelist on a recent “Ask A Lawyer” broadcast on BCTV. The program addressed DUI law and the consequences of a conviction. Attorney Nevins has extensive experience representing individuals charged with Driving Under the Influence in Berks County and across southeastern PennsylvaniaDisney Princess Bounce House. Attorney Nevins has won numerous motions for suppression of evidence resulting in the dismissal of DUI charges as well as Jury and non-jury verdicts in DUI cases. All told, Attorney Nevins has successfully handled over 500 driving under the influence cases during the course of his legal career.Inflatable Pool

The “Ask a Lawyer” program will be re-aired several times over the coming week. Check bctv.org for dates and times.

DUI Charges Reduced in Berks County

Thursday, June 27th, 2013

Attorney Ryan W. McAllister recently represented a client in Berks County who was charged with a second offense DUI. Our client had refused the blood test at the hospital, so he was looking at the “highest rate” penalties if he was convicted, which would include a mandatory minimum jail sentence of 90 days in Berks County Prison, followed by a five (5) year period of supervision. Our client was employed full-time at a local Berks County company, and he was have undoubtedly lost his job if he received a 90 day jail sentence.

Attorney McAllister fought the case on behalf of our client by filing an omnibus pretrial motion, which would then be followed by a subsequent bench trial. On the day of the hearing, the District Attorney’s office offered up a “plea deal” to Attorney McAllister’s client based on the fact that there was a chance they would lose the case. The plea deal was for a second offense “general impairment” DUI, which carries reduced penalties of five (5) days in jail and a maximum supervision period of only six (6) months.

Our client thought long and hard about whether or not to take the deal. In the end, he decided to go for the “sure bet” and lock in the reduced jail sentence of only five (5) days compared to 90 day jail sentence he would have faced had he went to trial and lost. Additionally, Attorney McAllister negotiated to have all the other charges are client was facing dropped in exchange for the plea agreement, which saved our potentially hundreds if not over one thousand dollars in fines and costs. In the end, our client was very happy with the outcome of his case.

If you or someone you know is facing a driving under the influence case or DUI charges in Berks County, PA, or Reading, Pennsylvania, please call our office right away at 610-372-5128. One of our experienced criminal trial attorneys will be happy to sit down with you and discuss your case in more detail at no initial cost to you.