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Parallel parenting vs. co-parenting

People who share custody of their children in Pennsylvania must decide how they will handle decisions related to raising their kids. Parenting after divorce can be one of the most challenging aspects of separation.

In an ideal situation, parents are able to work together after separating to co-parent the children. When people cannot agree on how to handle the day-to-day logistics of raising their children, "parallel parenting" may work better. In this situation, both parents are connected to the children and usually agree on major decisions relating to religion and education, but they do not have frequent discussions with each other about how they're raising the children.

Pennsylvania changing its laws on license suspensions

What offenses would lead to a mandatory driver license suspension is changing here in Pennsylvania. This is due to a bill that was signed into law by the governor late last month.

The law will get rid of mandatory license suspensions for certain types of crimes. This includes drug offenses not connected to driving.

Three tips for custody battles

Divorces are notorious for getting ugly fast, and when there are children in the picture, custody battles can be devastating. While you may be doing your best to help your children through this difficult time, your ex-spouse could be making huge efforts to create conflict around child custody.

Custody battles do not benefit anyone. Your best strategy is to try to reduce conflict as much as possible so that you can obtain a successful and productive outcome that puts your children's best interests at the forefront. Here are three tips that can help you as you navigate your situation:

Will I automatically lose my license after my first DUI?

You left a bar after a night out with colleagues, and you decided to drive after drinking. Unfortunately, you committed an insignificant traffic violation, and an officer pulled you over on a DUI suspicion. After breathalyzing, you are charged and arrested for a DUI.

Driving under the influence of alcohol constitutes a serious offense in many states. In Pennsylvania, the severity of your intoxication and the circumstances of your DUI charge may determine the level of punishments given to you by a criminal law judge. It proves essential to speak with an attarney if facing a DUI charge, as defense attarneys’ experience may provide you with the expertise in defense in avoiding more serious penalties.

Spotlight Issue: What does the legalization of medical marijuana mean for DUI law in Berks County?

Pennsylvania legalized marijuana for limited medical purposes in August of 2016 and dispensaries are now operating. Although the law has been passed, there is still much work to be done in order to implement the program and to ensure that medical marijuana usage is legal and safe. One area in which there is a still a question about the legality of medical marijuana is Pennsylvania DUI law. Currently, marijuana is classified as a schedule I drug which means that it has been determined to have no legitimate medical usage. Obviously that is no longer an appropriate classification based on the current law. However, the outdated classification continues to leave Pennsylvania DUI law in limbo.

Spotlight Issue: Loss of driver's license for driving with suspended registration

In Pennsylvania, many motor vehicle offenses result in a driver's license suspension that isn't immediately apparent to the driver. One such offense is driving a vehicle with a suspended registration. Vehicle registration can be suspended for 3 reasons - lapse in insurance coverage, as the result of a citation or accident, or because of unpaid Turnpike tolls. Most suspensions are for 3 months. Appeals of a PennDot license suspension must be filed within 30 days of the date that the suspension notice is mailed. The appeal is heard by the Court of Common Pleas. Registration suspension can often be ended immediately by providing proof of insurance coverage and paying a large fine. Once a vehicle's registration is suspended, if the car is driven by the owner, or with permission of the owner, the owner can be charged with violating 75 Pa. C.S. 1371. The criminal penalty for this offense is only a fine of $100 - $500 and it is handled in front of a Magisterial District Judge. But, a conviction will result in a separate and automatic 3-month driver's license suspension by PennDot. This may be an unexpected consequence for many people who have pled guilty to the traffic ticket.

ENM Law News: Recent Berks County custody cases

Berks County custody cases often all follow a similar path. But sometimes a client comes to our office with an unusual set a circumstances and we have to think outside the box and act quickly. Here are details of two such Berks County custody cases that Attorney McAllister handled recently.

Spotlight Issue: Kutztown University student found "not guilty" of underage drinking charge

While underage drinking may not seem like a decision that will have long term consequences, many Berks County college students find out the hard way that the penalties can be stiff. While it is most commonly referred to as the underage drinking law, the law in Pennsylvania penalizes more than just the consumption of alcohol by a person under the age of 21. In Pennsylvania it is illegal for a person under the age of 21 to attempt to purchase as well as to purchase, consume, possess or knowingly and intentionally transport liquor or malt or brewed beverages. The punishment for violating the underage drinking law is a fine and a driver's license suspension. For a first offense underage drinking charge in Berks County, a fine of up to $500 is permitted and a 90 day license suspension is required. A second conviction for underage drinking involves a penalty of a fine not to exceed $1,000 and a 1 year license suspension. Third and subsequent offenses subject the defendant to a fine of up to $1,000 and a 2 year license suspension.

Spotlight Issue: DUS Intermediate Punishment (DUS/IPP)

Getting caught driving with a suspended license in Berks County usually results in a fine and additional license suspension (read more about 1543(a) violations here), but make the same mistake with a DUI suspended license and you're looking at a mandatory jail sentence. If you're facing the possibility of jail time for a 1543(b) charge (driving with a DUI suspended license), you need to consider the option of DUS/IPP (driving under suspension/intermediate punishment program). Here's what you need to know.

Spotlight Issue: Negotiated dismissals - Rules 546 and 586

If you've been charged with a crime in Berks County and part of the charge contains an allegation that you owe something to someone else (usually money), your attorney may be able to negotiate a dismissal upon satisfaction being made to the aggrieved party. This type of disposition is pursuant to Rule 586 (in front of the Court of Common Pleas), Rule 546 (in front of a magisterial district judge) or Rule 458 (dismissal of a summary offense).

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