Another Week, Another Pennsylvania Drunk Driving Spree

Pennsylvania drunk driving There seems to be a run on destructive drunk drivers lately, because more than one drunk driver from more than one state has taken his vehicle and turned a neighborhood into a real-life demolition derby. These people might have thought it was fun at the time, but the ensuing Pennsylvania drunk driving charge has curbed one of these drivers for the near future.

Bispo Alvair was drunk driving at three am when he began smashing into cars. He managed to hit 10 cars, leaving skid marks and smoke behind as he sped down the road on only three tires. Witnesses who saw him thought he was out of control, and he almost hit a few pedestrians who were walking to their own car.

His vehicle even caught fire, but that didn’t slow him down. Instead he managed to drive with the vehicle sideways, giving him the opportunity to smash vehicles on both sides of the street. That’s when he hit another 17 vehicles.

Thankfully no one was injured during his vehicular rampage, and not long after he made the decision to ditch his SUV and make a run for it. Police were nearby, and they arrested him for drunk drunk driving before he could get away.

This driver was charged just in time to be held accountable to new Pennsylvania drunk driving laws. Now any first-time offender who has a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .10 is required to install an ignition interlock in any vehicle they drive. Before that change to the laws, a first offender would just have had his or her driver’s license suspended for one year.

Hopefully this is the end of a short-lived crash spree for these drunk drivers, and that the ignition interlock they may need to install stops them the next time they think about drinking and driving.

Pennsylvania Ignition Interlock Program Right For 1st Offenders

Pennsylvania ignition interlockIt’s decision time for first time drunk driving offenders in Pennsylvania. Will they choose the Pennsylvania ignition interlock program, or will they give up their driving privileges and wait out a lengthy driver’s license suspension?

If you are a first offender in Pennsylvania this probably isn’t a choice you’ll be excited about making, but if you were arrested with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .10 or higher, you’ll be required to decide now that Pennsylvania drunk driving laws have changed to allow these options.

On one hand you’ll have the Pennsylvania ignition interlock program. If you choose to plead guilty to your first DUI you’ll have the option of receiving a special driver’s license. That license will allow you to install and use an ignition interlock for a one year period, and that means you can take back your car keys and get on with your life. As long as you drive sober, you have free and clear access to your vehicle.

On the other hand, there’s the Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition program. This is a diversionary program that lets a first time DUI offender avoid conviction completely and have their record wiped clean if they accept a 30 to 60-day driver’s license suspension. With the diversionary program you will need to find alternate transportation for the time period, and if you’re caught driving your vehicle while suspended you’ll receive even more penalties.

It’s a choice that’s completely up to the offender, but when you weigh the pros and cons of completely giving up your vehicle and avoiding driving for one to three months, the freedom provided by the Pennsylvania ignition interlock program looks really appealing.

Time will tell what choices are made by first offenders in Pennsylvania, but when drivers weigh an interlock vs a driver’s license suspension, the interlock comes out ahead every time.

Unconscious Blood No Longer Allowed In Pennsylvania

blood drawA drunk driving arrest and conviction isn’t as cut and dried as it looks on TV. When you’re watching a TV show and a police officer arrests someone, all you see is the offender heading off to jail in the back of the squad car. Watching it you get the idea that all is well and the roads are now safer.

But that’s not a drunk driving arrest works. In order to prosecute someone for drunk driving the police have to prove in a court of law that the driver was under the influence. To do that they need evidence that supports the reason they suspected that person of driving drunk in the first place.

That evidence includes blood taken from a suspect to assess blood alcohol content (BAC), and thanks to a recent Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruling, obtaining a BAC is going to be a little harder from now on. The court ruled that law enforcement must obtain a search warrant before blood is drawn from an unconscious suspect.

This ruling came to be because of a drunk driving case from 2012. The suspect approached a police officer and it was clear to the officer he was drunk. He was taken to the hospital after he was arrested for drunk driving and he was given something to render him unconscious. Although the police officer attempted to communicate with the suspect, when it became clear that he couldn’t he asked the nurse to take a blood draw to assess his BAC.

When preparing for court for his DUI charge, the suspect filed a motion to suppress his blood evidence on the basis that his Fourth Amendment rights were violated. That motion was granted, and after the case went all the way to the Supreme Court, it was decided that police officers cannot ask for a blood draw from an unconscious suspect.

A ruling of this type may make it harder for police to do their job, but even without the ability to draw blood from an unconscious suspect, police will still be able to successfully prosecute drunk drivers in the state of Pennsylvania.

Drunk Driving Laws Could Be Changing In Pennsylvania

drunk driving laws PennsylvaniaThere’s a lot going on right now in Pennsylvania in terms of drunk driving laws, and if the new legislation is passed, the state may finally be on their way to receiving Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) five star status.

Drunk driving laws may change to include longer jail time

A bill that was just introduced would crack down on repeat drunk drivers by requiring anyone who is charged with drunk driving twice in a ten year period to spend at least two years in prison, up to a maximum of seven years. Right now Pennsylvania drunk driving laws require that a repeat drunk driver only needs to spend ten days in jail.

The bill would also change how repeat offenders are dealt with after a drunk driving homicide. If the driver had two or more prior convictions he or she would receive a charge similar to that of a third-degree murder charge. The prison sentence would be 10 to 20 years.

Drug tests passed on saliva

The Pennsylvania Senate introduced another bill that would crack down on drivers under the influence of drugs. If passed the new law would allow a police officer to use a test on that person’s saliva to see if they are drugged driving. That test would make it much easier for a police office to process a drugged offender than if they had to obtain a warrant for a blood test.

Judging by these two possible adjustments to Pennsylvania drunk driving laws, it looks like the state  is finally cracking down on drunk drivers. Along with the hard won Pennsylvania all offender ignition interlock law that finally goes into effect in August of this year, drunk drivers in the state should finally realize that they aren’t going to have an easy road to travel if they are caught drunk driving.

DUI Laws Don’t Apply To Dogs, But They Do To Dog Owners

drunk-chihuahuaIt goes without saying that you shouldn’t drink and drive. Every state has drunk driving laws they’ve put into place, and with all of the anti-drunk driving public service announcements (PSAs), checkpoints, and campaigns out there, it should be common sense to avoid drunk driving at all costs.

But not everyone has common sense, and the number of drunk drivers on the road who disregard drunk driving laws remains at staggering levels. Sometimes these drunk drivers will even take children along for the ride, while others are content to bring along their drunk dog.

Yes, a drunk driving arrested in Pennsylvania recently also had a very drunk Chihuahua along for the ride. The driver was found inside his vehicle with an open bottle of vodka, and he was pouring it into a tray in the center console for the dog, who was drinking it.

At 12 pounds, the dog would have limited tolerance for hard alcohol, and even a small amount of vodka would be enough to kill the canine. What happens after they drink is similar to what happens to a human: they lose their coordination, become sleepy, and their heart rate can slow down. With a large amount of alcohol a dog’s blood stream can become acidic and, unless they receive immediate treatment, they can die.

The dog in this case was already staggering while he walked, and his pupils were dilated. Police removed him from the vehicle and took him to a vet where he received an IV to remove the alcohol from his system. He’s had to receive additional treatments but is doing well and living at an Animal Control officer’s house.

The dog’s owner was charged with driving under the influence and animal cruelty, and although it’s not known whether or not he’ll regain custody of his dog, the fact that he also threatened to shoot and kill the arresting officers at the scene makes it seem unlikely.

It’s not the first case of someone disregarding drunk driving laws and it won’t be the last, but at least it should be the last time this dog gets into a car drunk.

Pennsylvania Drunk Driver Arrested Wearing Drunk Lives Matter T-Shirt

Pennsylvania drunk driver

Image from Newville Police Department Facebook page

On St.Patrick’s Day you’ll find plenty of people wearing green and celebrating the luck of the Irish. These party goers will drink green beer, spend the night in Irish pubs, and hopefully get home in one piece. Despite the party atmosphere, it’s inevitable that the police end up with more than a few stories to tell after it’s all over, and one story about a Pennsylvania drunk driver will give police something to talk about for years to come.

It all started when police spotted a green Ford truck around midnight on St.Patrick’s Day. The driver was stopped because police spotted him committing several traffic violations, and when they pulled him over they suspected him of drunk driving. Taking him in for a blood draw, they discovered that his blood alcohol concentration (BAC) was .217.

That’s a high reading for anyone stopped for driving drunk, but what really stood out about this Pennsylvania drunk driver was that he was proudly wearing a bright green St.Patrick’s Day t-shirt that said, “Drunk Lives Matter.”

Yes, the t-shirt was intended as a joke for St.Patrick’s Day. Although it was a tasteless joke for obvious reasons, the ultimate irony was how the wearer of the t-shirt ended up arrested for drunk driving. What’s also ironic is that his mug shot was put on the Newville, Pennsylvania Police Facebook page, and from there it was shared all over the Internet.

Not only has this man, his St.Patrick’s Day t-shirt, and his unhappy mugshot gained infamy, as a Pennsylvania drunk driver he’s going to pay fines, he may lose his driver’s license, and if he refused to submit to a breathalyzer he’ll have to drive with an ignition interlock.  Clearly the luck of the Irish was not with him this St.Patrick’s Day.

What’s The ARD Program For A First Time Pennsylvania DUI?

first time drunk driving charge in PennsylvaniaIf you’ve been arrested for on a first time drunk driving charge in Pennsylvania you’ve probably been overwhelmed with the terminology and new programs that you’re required to attend. From paying for fines to the ignition interlock program, it would all be new to someone who had never received a drunk driving charge in Pennsylvania before.

There’s one program that someone with a first time drunk driving charge in Pennsylvania may be interested in: the Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD). This is an alternative to a criminal trial, and it focuses on rehabilitation and lets any first time offender avoid the stress of a long driving under the influence trial so he or she can get on with his or her life.

The ARD is kind of like receiving probation for your drunk driving conviction, but instead of having a DUI (driving under the influence) conviction on your record, if you successfully complete the ARD program your DUI will be removed.

Here’s a few things you should know about the ARD if you’ve received a first time drunk driving charge in Pennsylvania.

Only first time offenders are eligible

The judge or district attorney on your case will decide whether or not you’re eligible for the ARD, and it’s good to know that not every first time offender will be accepted. Normally if you’ve caused serious injury to someone else because of your DUI, someone died, or you had a child under the age of fourteen in the vehicle with you, you won’t be eligible for the ARD.

Not everyone passes the ARD

Just because you’re allowed to enter the program doesn’t mean you’ll pass it. If you fail any part of the ARD program you may be removed from it by your local DA. That means you’ll want to attend all supervision meetings as well as the DUI school you’re required to complete. You’ll also want to pay your fines and make sure you don’t violate any aspect of the ARD program.

A drunk driving conviction is a mistake many people make once and never again, and if you’re willing to put the effort in, the ARD may work for you in Pennsylvania.

Changes Coming This August To Pennsylvania Ignition Interlock Law

Pennsylvania ignition interlockThe times they are a-changin’ for drunk driving laws in Pennsylvania. If you haven’t spent any time familiarizing yourself with what’s been happening in the world of traffic safety lately, there’s no better time than Highway Safety Awareness Week to brush up a bit. There’s a lot of changes coming down,  and for drunk drivers a change to Pennsylvania ignition interlock requirements could prove to be significant.

Pennsylvania Ignition Interlock requirements will change

One change in Pennsylvania has important implications for anyone who makes the choice to drink and drive. As of right now, if you’re convicted of drunk driving in Pennsylvania you’ll be penalized based on what your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) was at the time of arrest. For example, if you’ve been convicted of a first offense with a BAC of .10 to .159 you’ll spend two days in jail, but if you had a .08 to .099, you won’t have to spend any time in jail at all.

Based on that BAC scale, Pennsylvania ignition interlock requirements will change to require any first time offender with a BAC of .10 to .159 to install an ignition interlock in any vehicle he or she drives. Right now, Pennsylvania drunk driving laws only require that a second time offender install an interlock.

The change in law results from a bill that was signed off by the Governor in May of 2016, and may have been motivated by a report by Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD). The report stated that more than 78,000 drunk driving attempts were stopped by a Pennsylvania ignition interlock, and now that the number of interlocks in use will double, even more people could potentially be prevented from driving.

Any change made to strengthen an ignition interlock law is a positive change for all drivers on the roads in the USA, and there’s no doubt this new Pennsylvania ignition interlock law will save lives.

You Might Not Want To Remove That Ignition Interlock

don't remove that ignition interlockThere’s a reason why Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) stands firmly behind ignition interlocks as a penalty for all drunk drivers, even those stopped for drunk driving for the first time. Fifty to seventy five percent of drunk drivers will continue to drive on a suspended driver’s license, and the only way to stop them is to require them to blow into an interlock before they can start the car.

Despite the fact that 28 states now require ignition interlocks for all offenders, people are continuing to skip the penalty. Maybe they’ve transferred the ownership of their vehicle over to another driver to avoid it or they’ve gone through the process of removing the ignition interlock from their vehicle themselves; either way, the end result is that they’re driving free, clear, and in some cases, not sober, and that’s when they get into trouble again.

If you think it doesn’t happen very often, think again: a man in Meadville, Pennsylvania just became a great example of what can happen if a drunk driver removes his ignition interlock and gets behind the wheel again and again. He was driving and almost caused a crash in one incident, and not long after caused another where he was driving, swerved into traffic, and hit a vehicle.

There’s no doubt an ignition interlock would have stopped him, and although he was required to drive with one he’d already removed it from his vehicle. Because of that he’s been charged with not one, not two, but five misdemeanors and two traffic violations stemming from both incidents. One of these was a third degree misdemeanor count of operating a vehicle without an ignition interlock with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of at least 0.025. Another was a misdemeanour count of operating a vehicle without an ignition interlock.

What are the consequences of removing your ignition interlock and driving drunk again? It depends on your state and the judge you end up in front of. In this case the Pennsylvania man is in jail waiting for his court date, and it’s all because he wanted to skip the ignition interlock and continue to make the choice to drink and drive.

Amish Teen Driving Buggy Charged With Drunk Driving In Pennsylvania

amish teen drunk drivingIt might sound like an episode straight out of the Breaking Amish TV show, but when one young man was stopped by police for drunk driving in Pennsylvania recently, he was driving a buggy.

At eighteen years old he could have been behind the wheel of a car and had a carload of friends with him, but the Amish live an old world lifestyle so he was behind the wheel of a buggy. In fact, when police stopped him he actually had two out of his four passengers on the buggy’s roof. They even had open containers of alcohol inside.

Both the driver and all four of his passengers were arrested for underage drinking, and the driver was charged with drunk driving. Although his blood alcohol concentration (BAC) isn’t known, you’re only required to have a BAC of .02 to be charged with underage drunk driving in Pennsylvania.

A lower BAC for underage drinkers isn’t the only way Pennsylvania is cracking down on drunk drivers. Back in May the state of Pennsylvania become one of the many states adopting an all offender ignition interlock law. The new law states that any first time drunk driver charged with driving impaired on any type of vehicle, from ride on lawn mowers to horses or buggies, who has a BAC between .10 to .15 percent will not have their driver’s license suspended for the year period if he or she installs an ignition interlock.

The law won’t take effect until 2017, but it’s a good step in cracking down on drunk driving in Pennsylvania. Unfortunately for the driver in this case, you can’t install an ignition interlock in a buggy. Because he’s Amish and he doesn’t have another type of vehicle to install the interlock in, he won’t be able to get behind the reins for a year.

Yes, even the Amish can be charged for drunk driving, and Pennsylvania law enforcement are clearly watching for all drunk drivers, no matter what they’re driving.

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