The statistics may be concerning and surprising to people in Pennsylvania, especially those with veterans in their families, but drunk driving by military veterans has risen 60 percent since 2014 according to the results of one study. The American Addiction Centers reported that binge drinking and drunk driving have both become more common among the veteran population. The study analyzed behavioral data gathered by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Can you be charged with a controlled substance DUI even if you are only taking medication as prescribed by a doctor? The answer is "yes." Pennsylvania DUI statute §3802(d)(2) makes it a crime for anyone to drive under the influence of a drug or combination of drugs to a degree that impairs that person's ability to safely operate a motor vehicle. Noticeably, that section does not make an exception for prescription drugs that are taken as ordered by doctor. Further, §3802(d)(3) makes it a crime for anyone to drive under the combined influence of alcohol and drugs to a degree that impairs the driver's ability to safely operate a motor vehicle. This section does not require a certain level of alcohol in the blood. Instead, any combined amount of alcohol and drugs that impairs the driver's ability to safely operate a vehicle is prohibited. This includes prescription drugs that are taken as prescribed. While a prescribed amount of a drug taken alone may not impair the driver's ability to safely operate a vehicle, even a small amount of alcohol mixed with that drug may cause impairment.
Second time DUI offenders are often facing a mandatory 90 day jail sentence. In Berks County the Second Time Offender Program (STOP) allows defendants to reduce their mandatory jail sentences by serving a portion of their sentence on electronic monitoring or in a halfway house. However, admission to the STOP program is not guaranteed. Typically, if a defendant is denied admission to the STOP program, then he must serve the entirety of his mandatory sentence in jail. One of our recent clients was charged with a second-offense DUI and was denied admission to the STOP program. Instead of the client having to serve 90 days in the Berks County Prison, our DUI attorneys obtained a sentence for the client wherein he served 85 days on electronic monitoring and only 5 days in prison. If you've been charged with a DUI, our Reading DUI attorneys would like to help you. Call us at 610-372-5128 or submit your case using the "Ask an attorney" link.
Attorney Liz Ebner recently got her client acquitted of DUI, 75 Pa.C.S.A. 3802(b), during a non-jury trial in Berks County. Our client was charged with a "middle tier" first offense DUI, so the mandatory penalties were 48 hours in Berks County Prison, a 12 month license suspension, and significant fines and court costs. Our client most certainly did not want to go to jail, even for 48 hours, and he would have been very restricted if he lost his license for 12 straight months.