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  • By: Kevin Leckerman, Esq.
  • Published: October 9, 2012
Baby is sitting in the back seat of the car - Leckerman Law, LLC

Maybe you’re a college student heading back from a party with some friends and you’ve had a few too many drinks. Or you’re a parent who’s just come from a Fourth of July party where you had a couple of beers. It was all in good fun, and you don’t feel drunk, but when the cop makes you take a breath test, you’re just over the legal limit of .08 BAC – You know what that means: a DUI Charge.

It’s embarrassing and frustrating, but probably most of all, it’s scary. Will your driver’s license be taken away? Your car? Will you be fined? Have to do community service? Could they even put you in jail? Will you need a Pennsylvania DUI lawyer?

Everyone knows that the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania takes driving under the influence very seriously, but a new law put onto the books on May 8 and effective since June 7, 2012, adds a new way to punish drunk drivers.

Senate Bill 539, Senate District 44’s Senator John C. Rafferty, Jr. has created an entirely new offense which says that anyone found guilty of driving drunk with someone under the age of 18 in the vehicle at the time that the violation occurred has also committed a misdemeanor of the first degree in addition to any other penalties associated with the DUI.

What does that mean? Well, imagine that even though you’re of age, one of your college friends isn’t. When the cops arrest you, he checks IDs and discovers that the freshman girl you have been driving is actually 17! Now, you not only face that DUI, but another misdemeanor charge, just because she is not an adult.

Same thing applies if you’re a parent driving your kids home from a family barbeque and test just over the legal limit. Maybe you thought you were fine, but it’s the number on that breath test that matters, and you’re going to be hit much harder, because your children were with you in the car. It’s the state of Pennsylvania’s newest way to protect kids and ratchet up the punishment for anyone who decides to drink and drive.

Penalties Associated with New Pennsylvania DUI Law

Obviously, no charges are good charges, but DUI attorneys will tell you that, in general, misdemeanors aren’t that bad – at the very least, they’re far preferable than being charged with a felony. In this case, though, that’s not true. This law carries with it incredibly steep penalties that can alter the course of your life – especially when you add in the fact that it’s a separate charge from the DUI.

So what exactly are the penalties that come along with this new Pennsylvania DUI law?

75 Pa.C.S.A. S 3803(b)(5) Penalties:

First-time offenders can expect to receive 100 hours of mandatory community service that must be completed as well as a fine of at least $1,000. Second-time offenders will have to spend at least one month and up to six months behind bars, as well as paying a fine of no less than $2,500. And if you’re found guilty of breaking this law 3 times or more, you will be incarcerated for at least six months, and it could last up to two years.

Fight Your Charges with a Pennsylvania DUI Attorney

Since it’s pretty difficult to argue that the underage person wasn’t really underage (or wasn’t actually riding with you in the car), the best course of action to fight these kinds of charges is to fight the DUI itself. Many people think that there is no way to fight a DUI once they have been charged, but this is not the case. Even with a failed BAC (blood alcohol content) test, people have not only fought DUI charges, but won! The trick is having a good Pennsylvania DUI lawyer on your side who knows the law.

There are many reasons why a DUI arrest might be reduced or even thrown out of court altogether. Perhaps the officers didn’t follow correct procedure, lacked reasonable suspicion that you were committing a crime or a traffic infraction, or the breathalyzer they used wasn’t calibrated properly, amongst other possible defenses. Or you have GERD or other medical disorders that complicate taking a breath test and can throw off its readings.

Depending on the type of device used, BAC tests can be artificially inflated, so make sure you choose a DUI attorney with experience fighting these types of charges. That way, you can make sure that you pursue every possible angle to ensure that you receive a positive outcome.

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