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DUI charges and the state's changing laws

Drunk driving charges are serious in every state, but in Pennsylvania, recent changes in the law give no second chances. Some in the state are even calling the widespread drunk driving issue the "DUI war," remarking on the growing concern of unsafe roads. Are the recent changes in Pennsylvania's drunk driving laws enough to make real change?

The Pennsylvania Homepage shares that, as of August 2017, laws regarding driving while under the influence take on different meaning. Now, any first-time DUI offender having a blood alcohol content level of at least .10 percent must install an ignition interlock system in their vehicle, whereas previously any first-time offender automatically lost their driver's license for one full year. Various Pennsylvania residents weighed in on the recent change, and most stated that the modifications are promising. In previous years, the suspension of a license may have changed offenders' driving habits very little, and could have evened worsened dangerous habits. With the new DUI law, more responsibility is placed into the hands of drivers, who must use the ignition system in order to drive at all. Others commenting on the recent change disagree, stating that it is merely a cash-grab on behalf of the state.

What is aggravated assault?

Assault is a serious offense that carries a lot of jail time for the perpetrator. According to data collected by The National Center for Victims of Crime, nearly 1,000,000 cases of aggravated assault took place in 2012 alone. Out of all those cases, nearly 95 percent involved someone with a weapon. 

Many people become confused regarding the differences between assault and battery, but there is also a big distinction between simple assault and aggravated assault. In some cases, a person may face aggravated assault charges, which carry much harsher penalties. It is vital to understand the difference to adequately fight a specific charge in court. 

Medical bankruptcy: is there a solution?

Depending on the nation's economic state, the abundance of available jobs and a multitude of other factors, financial matters can become trying on individuals and families. One looming cause of bankruptcy in Pennslyvania is medical bankruptcy, in which individuals may seek governmental help in distressing financial times caused by overwhelming medical bills.

There are many reasons why countless Pennsylvania residents file medical bankruptcy. Chapter 7 bankruptcy has allowed many individuals to alleviate their medical debt, yet the details of Chapter 7 bankruptcy are complex and can differ depending on each case. Although there is an alarming number of patients suffering from medical debt, recent reports show a decline in this type of debt across the country. What, many might ask, allowed these rates in bankruptcy to decrease, and what may help prevent cases of crippling medical debt in the future?

The penalties of a first-time DUI charge

There rightfully exist a number of penalties attached to drunk driving offenses, but sometimes, a mild offense simply occurs out of being at the wrong place at the wrong time. Pennsylvania, like most states, contains a set of laws and penalties regarding driving under the influence. Often these penalties can be lasting, and can negatively impact a person's career and life in general.

According to an article in Penn Live, the state's DUI "tiers" work to determine penalties based off of an individual's level of intoxication while driving. As of 2003, Pennsylvania's limit for a DUI was reduced from .10 to .08 blood alcohol content, but along with that change came the introduction of DUI tiers. These tiers apply to the level of intoxication of a driver, and that level ultimately determines the penalties given to the driver. The penalties determined can range from the loss of license to requirement for an Alternative Rehabilitation Disposition program. The first tier applies to those who have a BAC level of .08 to .10 percent within two hours of operating a vehicle. Offenders may face six months' probation, a $300 fine and mandatory attendance at an alcohol safety school.

Can drunk driving affect travel to Canada?

If you have been accused of getting behind the wheel while under the influence of alcohol, all sorts of questions may be on your mind and you could wonder how the charges will affect your life. From a lengthy prison sentence to the suspension of your driver's license and trouble with family members, these charges can have serious repercussions. If you were charged with DUI in Greensburg or another Pennsylvania city, you should also be aware of the other ways these charges could affect you, such as preventing you from traveling to Canada.

On their site, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection reports that drunk driving convictions can keep people from entering Canada. If you have been charged with drunk driving and are found guilty, a Canadian immigration officer may decide to prevent you from coming into the country. Whether you want to visit Canada as a tourist or have business that you need to conduct, this can be devastating, which is yet another reason why DUI charges have to be taken very seriously.

Reviewing the two hour rule

Most in Greensburg are likely familair with the number "0.08" in reference to the state's drunk driving laws. That is the blood alcohol content measurement that indicates one is legally determined to be too impaired to operate a motor vehicle. Many may wonder, however, how such a concentration can be determined the moment one of pulled over on the road. The field sobriety tests officers issue to see if one appears visually impaired can be an indicator of drunkeness, yet only chemical testing can identify one's BAC. 

Section 1547 of Title 75 of Pennsylvania's Consolidated Statutes shows that the state recognizes chemical testing to be measurements of one's breath or blood. Law enforcement officials will often have a breahtalyzer device with them to obtain a breath measurement the moment one is detained for suspicion of DUI. However, research has shown the results of such testing to have a significant margin of error (up to 50 percent, according to some groups), and thus may be easily challenged. A blood test provides a much more accurate reading, yet such tests cannot be issued at the roadside. 

What can parents do when their kids are arrested for DUI?

Drunk driving takes far too many lives each year. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, over 4,500 people died in Pennsylvania alone between the years of 2003 and 2012 as a result of drunk driving.

In addition to life lost, drunk driving can also result in a person getting arrested. This has a significant impact on everyone, but it can be extremely detrimental for teenagers, mainly because they face jail time and fines. Their college prospects are also put into jeopardy. This can be a difficult time for the teen's parents, but adults should take steps to try to get their child through this time. Parents will obviously want to hire an attorney, but other actions can be beneficial.

Understanding arbitration

Everyone in Greensburg would like to hope that the process of buying a new home or property would always be completed smoothly. Sadly, that is not always the case. Any number of issues can arise during the process of completing a real estate transaction, many of which will put buyers and sellers (along with their respective realtors) at odds. When such disputes do arise, many often question which is the best way to solve them?

The Realtor Code of Ethics requires that any disputes between parties that cannot be successfully mediated must then be taken to arbitration. The National Association of Realtors defines arbitration as an alternative dispute resolution process in which those involved refer a case to a third party (an arbiter). Both sides then agree to accept the arbiter’s ruling in the case as legally binding. In most cases, arbiters are professionals who have experience in dealing with industry specific disputes.

Top 3 reasons people file for bankruptcy

Many people dealing with debt they cannot pay are embarrassed at their situation and feel as though they are facing it alone. On the contrary, this is one of the most common financial problems, and people all around you have likely been in your position before. Shame will only prevent you from finding a solution to the problem, so it is important to approach it realistically and consider all of your options.

Bankruptcy is one of these options. Far from a symptom of failure, it is often the best way to get out from under debt you cannot reasonably pay back. There are many reasons people file for bankruptcy, but the following three life events are some of the most common causes and contributing factors.

Theft and the law

Theft, like many crimes in the United States, is an act that often arises from complex circumstances. Poverty and psychological issues are among the many reasons an individual may commit a theft. In Pennsylvania, theft comes with lasting consequences, including the charging of fines and even jail time.

Findlaw states that in order for a prosecutor to prove a defendant has committed theft, he or she must show beyond reasonable doubt that the defendant unlawfully took, transferred or exercised control over another person's property with the intent to deprive the owner of the property. Theft also includes the acceptance or purchasing of stolen property if the individual was aware that the property was stolen. Defenses for theft charges in Pennsylvania include, but are not limited to the following:

  • Age
  • Duress
  • Consent
  • Item was not actually stolen 
Richard W. Schimizzi
Richard W. Schimizzi

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Matthew R. Schimizzi
Matthew R. Schimizzi

A 2002 graduate from Greater Latrobe High School, Matt graduated summa cum laude from the University of ...

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