Posts Tagged ‘DUI lawyer Reading PA’

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: Are DUI checkpoints legal?

Tuesday, September 29th, 2015

Are DUI checkpoints legal?

While it may seem like a DUI checkpoint would be a violation of your 4th amendment rights, Pennsylvania courts have ruled that they are legal. However, the courts have imposed strict rules governing the process.
Plans for all DUI checkpoints must be submitted for administrative approval prior to the start of the checkpoint. The plan must include evidence that the location and time of the DUI checkpoint are based on a high number of past DUI related accidents and/or arrests in that area and at that time. The plan must also include a neutral pattern for stopping cars in the checkpoint (or police may elect to stop every vehicle). For example, police submit a plan stating that they will stop every fourth car and that plan is approved; police cannot decide during the checkpoint to stop three cars in a row. The purpose of requiring prior approval of the plan is to remove discretion from the field officers.

PA courts have suggested that notice of a DUI checkpoint should be published in advance, although the exact location does not need to be disclosed. This information is often published in local newspapers. Checkpoints must be well marked so that motorists know that they are approaching such a site. Motorists may avoid a checkpoint by turning off of the road before reaching it if they can do so in accordance with traffic laws. Police cannot stop a car just for avoiding a checkpoint. Police do not have to create a way to avoid the checkpoint.

Once the checkpoint begins, cars stopped in accordance with the approved plan may only be detained for a brief time. If police develop reasonable suspicion that the driver is under the influence of drugs or alcohol during that brief stop, then the car must be directed to a separate area. Field Sobriety Tests (FST’s) can be administered at that time.

It is only through a process called discovery that your attorney can find out whether the police followed the proper procedure for the DUI checkpoint. Our office will obtain information on whether a DUI checkpoint plan was submitted and approved, whether it was followed appropriately and whether all laws were followed during your arrest. If you’ve been charged with a DUI following a stop at a DUI checkpoint in Berks County, you need our help. Contact Reading, PA DUI attorneys at 610-372-5128 or email us at info@enmlaw.com.

Spotlight Issue: Should I plead guilty to my DUI charge?

Friday, June 12th, 2015

If you’ve been charged with a DUI you might be feeling like it is pointless to try to fight your case. You may feel this way because you believe that you were driving badly or failed your Field Sobriety Tests (FST’s) or had a blood draw that shows your blood alcohol content was over the legal limit. Does that mean that a conviction for DUI is automatic? NO.

While it may be true that the police follow all of the rules in a majority of DUI cases, that doesn’t mean that the rules were followed in your case. The only way for you to make sure that your DUI stop and arrest were handled properly is to have your case reviewed by one of our Berks County DUI attorneys. If a mistake was made by the police, then our attorneys will file the appropriate motions in court and, if necessary, represent you at a pretrial hearing or trial.

Our DUI attorneys will examine your case and looked for mistakes made by the police. Here are examples of some common mistakes:

- Illegal stop of your vehicle – police need to have reasonable suspicion that you are driving under the influence (or committing another crime) before they can pull you over to investigate. If the police pulled you over without reasonable suspicion that a crime was being committed, the evidence obtained after that traffic stop may be thrown out.

- FST’s not administered correctly – there is a specific way that the tests need to be explained and demonstrated by the police officer. Further, there are only certain types of FST’s that can be admitted into court. If there were mistakes made in the administration of the FST’s, that evidence may be thrown out.

- Video of FST’s – sometimes the video doesn’t show the poor performance on the tests that the police officer reported. Some police cars in Berks County have dashboard cameras that will record a traffic stop and FST’s. You may also be asked to perform the FST’s at the DUI Processing Center, in which case there will almost always be video of you performing the tests. While a police officer may report that you failed to walk straight or maintain your balance, the video may not tell the same story. In addition, a video may show that roadside FST’s were done under bad conditions such as poor light and uneven surfaces.

- Implied consent warnings must be given – before a police officer can request that you submit to a blood draw or breathalyzer (chemical testing), he or she must read you the implied consent warnings. These warnings inform you of your right to refuse the chemical testing and the consequences for that refusal. If the warnings were not read to you, the chemical testing results or your refusal to submit to the testing may be thrown out.

- Police officer lacked reasonable suspicion to request chemical testing – an officer needs to have reasonable suspicion that you were driving under the influence before he can request that you submit to a blood draw or breathalyzer. If the officer lacked reasonable suspicion before he made the request, then the results may be thrown out.

- Chemical testing must be done within 2 hours of the vehicle stop – the Pennsylvania DUI statute indicates that chemical testing needs to be done within 2 hours of the traffic stop. There is an exception to this rule, but the Commonwealth has to show that there was good cause for the time requirement not being met AND establish that the driver did not imbibe or ingest any alcohol or controlled substances between the time of driving and the testing. If the 2 hour rule is not followed and the Commonwealth is not able to prove an exception, the chemical testing results may be thrown out.

- Breathalyzer calibration not documented – the Pennsylvania DUI statute requires that breathalyzer machines be properly calibrated before their results can be used in court. If you were given a breathalyzer rather than a blood draw then the Commonwealth has to be able to establish the accuracy of the machine that was used to test your breath. If they are not able to do so then the test results may be thrown out.

A DUI can have a big impact on your life. Before you decide to plead guilty to a DUI you should have your case reviewed by an experienced DUI attorney. Our attorneys will examine whether any mistakes were made in your case and advise you as to the best way to proceed. If you’ve been charged with a DUI call us at 610-372-5128 or email us info@enmlaw.com

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.

Fast Track ARD for DUI in Berks County, PA

Tuesday, January 11th, 2011

The ARD program in Berks County is a way for an eligible candidate to avoid the mandatory jail time associated with a first time DUI. As we’ve previously posted, you can earn a dismissal of your DUI case by participation in this special first-time offenders program. Your participation will include community service, safe driving classes and court fines and costs. Our firm prides itself on making the entire process as simple as possible for our clients. One way we do this is by taking advantage of the so-called “Fast Track ARD” process.

When facing any criminal or DUI case an individual can expect to go to as many 4 or 5 court hearings. To many people appearing in front of a Judge and other courtroom personnel can be a stressful situation, not to mention time consuming. During an initial case evaluation we are usually able to determine pretty quickly if we can reduce the number of court appearances down to two. In addition, with our knowledge of Berks County Courts we can very often have our clients in and out of court in under half an hour. By ensuring that our clients are informed and engaged in the process we make certain that they are as prepared for court as we are. This fact is as important with a First Time DUI case as it is with a serious felony.

If you are facing a DUI charge in Berks County please contact our office for a no-cost consultation to see if you may qualify for the ARD program.