Instead of a dry, boring article, the following is an excerpt from a recent interview with Attorney Leckerman on the subject.
Interviewer: How about in Pennsylvania? Are there additional traffic charges that you routinely will notice with a DUI charge?
Leckerman: In Pennsylvania, yes, I’ll usually see a failure to maintain lane charge or a careless driving charge that’s tacked onto the DUI. Pennsylvania is a little different than other states in that it doesn’t seem to be such a routine practice that police officers will simply tack on a charge as a matter of course.
The charges that appear in the complaint will always have some type of factual justification in the police officer’s affidavit of probable cause attached to the complaint or in the police report.
In Pennsylvania, a DUI is a Criminal Charge
The reason I believe that that’s the case in Pennsylvania is that DUIs are criminal offenses; the minor traffic violations are summary offenses. In the old days, at a preliminary hearing, those summary offenses could’ve been dismissed at the preliminary hearing if they couldn’t be justified.
That law has changed and summary offenses cannot be challenged at a preliminary hearing stage, if they are attached to a criminal charge, such as a DUI. It appears as if it’s just a matter of practice that police officers justify their charges.
Another more practical reason is that if the case does go to trial, the officer can be called out on the fact that he or she is overcharging somebody in a complaint, without any real basis. If a jury starts to hear about that type of behavior from a police officer, the officer’s other claims during a trial may be less credible or believable.