Erie DUI Lawyer
Your Erie criminal defense lawyer from Melaragno, Placidi & Parini has your back.
Are you facing DUI charges in Pennsylvania? Then you need criminal defense assistance from the experienced attorneys at Melaragno, Placidi & Parini. In October of 2018, the Pennsylvania General Assembly passed Senate Bill 961 that imposed severe consequences for drunk driving convictions. Senate Bill 961 also created a new felony category for certain DUI offenses. The new law can be frightening for someone facing a first or subsequent DUI charge.
What is considered to be DUI in Pennsylvania?
- School bus drivers are legally drunk when their BAC is 0.02 or more
- Commercial vehicle drivers are legally drunk when their BAC is 0.04 percent or greater
- A BAC of 0.08 or more is considered legally drunk for non-commercial drivers age 21+
- Drivers under 21 are legally drunk when their BAC is 0.02 or more
These rules are an attempt to address public safety in response to Pennsylvania DUI statistics.
Penalties for general impairment
Those convicted for being generally impaired may face the following penalties:
- First-time offenders: Mandatory 6-months probation, a $300 fine, possible 150 hours community service, mandatory attendance of the alcohol highway safety school, and compliance with all alcohol/drug treatment protocols called for by the court.
- Second-time offenders: Jail sentence for up to five days, a $300 to $2,500 fine, possible 150 hours community service, mandatory attendance of the alcohol highway safety school, and compliance with all alcohol/drug treatment protocols called for by the court.
- Third or subsequent offenders: Prison time for up to 10 days, a $500 to $5,000 fine, possible 150 hours community service, mandatory attendance of the alcohol highway safety school, and compliance with all alcohol/drug treatment protocols called for by the court.
Why did the State bring in a new law?
The core reason for the new law relating to drunk driving is an attempt to address public safety in response to Pennsylvania DUI statistics. The stats indicate, among other things, that:
- Pennsylvania racks up more than 50,000 new DUI cases each year
- Between 70,000 and 150,000 Pennsylvanians keep driving despite a suspended license for DUI
- Repeat offenders cause 40 percent of alcohol-related traffic fatalities
- In 2016, 10,000 people in Pennsylvania were convicted of a second or subsequent DUI
- On average, the State sees roughly 12,000 crashed, 320 deaths and 8,700 injuries related to DUI
The new law makes some significant changes that you need to be aware of, these include:
- DUI used to be a misdemeanor offense. It is no longer a misdemeanor offense and an individual convicted of a third DUI is now guilty of a felony if their blood content was 0.16 or higher.
- A fourth DUI is a felony regardless of blood alcohol content.
- An individual convicted of killing someone while under the influence of alcohol is set to receive harsher penalties if they have prior DUI convictions. The old law called for a maximum 3-year jail term for anyone convicted of DUI vehicular homicide.
- The new law states that an individual convicted of killing someone while DUI, with a prior DUI conviction, may face a minimum of 5 years in jail.
- If the person has two previous DUI convictions, they may face a minimum of 7 years in jail.
- License suspension as a punishment for a DUI charge was not working well. The old law levied a $500 fine and up to 90-days in jail. The new law states a second offense can result in a $1,000 fine and at least 90-days in jail. A third offense may result in a $2,500 fine and up to 6 months in prison.
One of the most significant changes in the law relating to DUI in Pennsylvania is the process relating to repeat offenders. Before the introduction of the new law, a driver could not be considered a repeat offender until they received their first DUI sentencing. Repeat offenders face much harsher penalties than first-time offenders.
Under the old DUI law, a driver charged with multiple DUIs over a short time could often get a plea deal that bundled all the cases together and called each of them a first-time offense. The new law changes this, and judges now consider multiple cases to be repeat offenses even if sentencing has not happened, which triggers harsher penalties.
Mr. Parini has been a consummate professional.
He represented us in an unusual case, but provided clear and effective advice. His strategy worked out very well and we were offered a fair settlement very quickly.
Limited tort insurance
How does limited tort auto insurance apply in DUI cases?
In most circumstances, drivers who choose “limited tort” and not “full tort” for their auto insurance waive their right to sue for pain and suffering. However, a DUI conviction is an exception. If an impaired driver injures another driver who is a policyholder with limited tort coverage, then that policyholder may sue for pain and suffering. Even if there was no DUI conviction, and the victim suffers severe permanent disfigurement, severe bodily impairment, or dies, the defendant may be sued.
Have you been accused of drinking and driving? You have the right to retain a criminal defense attorney. Speak to a knowledgeable attorney at Melaragno, Placidi & Parini. They review the facts of your case and discuss if there are ways to suppress any evidence to eliminate or reduce the charges, and will utilize all other legal means to attempt to minimize the sentence that you may receive. Every case is different, whether it is the charges, evidence or prior DUI charges. Melaragno, Placidi & Parini work with you to mitigate the consequences of an impaired driving charge.