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Penalty Tiers for DUI in Pennsylvania

arrested

You’ve been stopped, arrested and charged with drinking and driving in Pennsylvania. What can you expect as a potential penalty if you are convicted?

In Pennsylvania, as in other states, there’s a range of penalties and the sanctions imposed depend on a couple factors—how many times you have previously been convicted and what your blood alcohol level was when you submitted to the breathalyzer—what are known under Pennsylvania law as “penalty tiers.

The Different Penalty Tiers for DUI in Pennsylvania

In 2003, the Pennsylvania legislature lowered the legal blood alcohol content (BAC) for intoxication from 10% to 8%. At the same time, they established tiers of intoxication that carry different penalties:

  • A blood alcohol content of .08 to .10 is considered “general impairment. A person testing at this level can face six months probation, a $300 fine and attendance at an alcohol safety school, provided it’s a first offense.
  • A blood alcohol level of .10 to .159 is deemed a high rate of alcohol.” Persons under 21 with a BAC of .02 or higher are also within this tier, as are people who caused any accident causing injury or property damage and certain persons driving commercial vehicles. A first conviction at this tier leads to a mandatory 48 hour incarceration and a 12 month license suspension.
  • A blood alcohol level of .16 or higher is labeled “highest rate of alcohol, with a mandatory three day jail sentence and 12 month license suspension for a first conviction. Anyone refusing to take a blood test will also be charged under this tier.

Contact the Law Office of Michael Curtis Greenberg

Don’t lose your license or go to jail. We will fight to protect your rights!

There’s no charge for your first consultation. We are available to meet with you evenings and weekends, if necessary, and can travel to your home or to detention to discuss your case. We accept all credit cards, as well as PayPal

To schedule an appointment, contact us by e-mail or call our office at at 855-598-3650.

Named One of the Top 100 New Jersey Criminal Trial Lawyers in 2015 by The American Society of Legal Advocates

What to Do When You Have Been Pulled Over by Police—Part Four—What to Say to the Officer

police-officer

When you’ve been pulled over by a police officer while driving, you can understandably be nervous. What you say to the officer and how you say it, though, can have a significant impact on the outcome of the traffic stop. Here are some guidelines.

Let the Officer Do Most of the Talking

In many ways, responding to a police officer during a traffic stop is like being cross-examined at trial—you want to answer with the shortest phrases possible without being rude or discourteous. The officer will listen carefully to everything you say. Unfortunately, the more you say, the more chances you’ll say something that either offends the officer or suggests that you were doing something you shouldn’t have been doing. You have the right to remain silent—don’t say anything unless you need to.

Don’t Try to Argue Your Way Out of the Ticket

Be responsive, but honest, with the officer. If the officer alleges that you were speeding and asks where you were going, tell him or her in as few words as possible. If there were extenuating circumstances—you were headed to the hospital or urgent care—be truthful, but don’t elaborate. Let the facts speak for themselves. If you try to argue your way out of the ticket or downplay what you were doing, you may appear insincere or unconcerned about violating the law.

Take a Few Deep Breaths before the Officer Comes Up to Your Car

This will help you relax, and if you are relaxed, chances are the officer will be relaxed, too. Remember, chances are that the officer is nervous, too. For many police officers, there’s no such thing as a routine traffic stop—too many officers have been seriously injured or killed in what others might call routine traffic stops.

Contact Attorney Michael Curtis Greenberg

Don’t lose your license or go to jail. Let us fight to protect your rights!

There’s no charge for your first consultation. We are available to meet with you evenings and weekends, if necessary, and can travel to your home or to detention to discuss your case. We accept all credit cards, as well as PayPal.

To schedule an appointment, contact us by e-mail or call our office at (800) 608-1350.

Named One of the Top 100 New Jersey Criminal Trial Lawyers in 2015 by The American Society of Legal Advocates

What to Do When You Have Been Pulled Over by Police—Part Three—The Vehicle Search

traffic-light

You’ve been stopped on the road by police, the officer has asked you some questions and now indicates that he or she wants to conduct a search of your car. What are your rights? What should you do?

The Basic Rule

Under the 4th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, there must be probable cause for any search or seizure or the police must have a warrant (which must be based on probable cause). The mere fact that a police officer has pulled you over for a traffic violation does not, however, amount to probable cause to conduct a search of your vehicle.

Exceptions to the Rule

However, the officer may make other observations that will constitute probable cause:

  • If you have incriminating evidence in plain view—empty or open alcoholic beverages, drug paraphernalia or stolen merchandise—an officer may be justified in conducting a search
  • Behavior that indicates you may be hiding something—if you are constantly darting your eyes around, or glancing at a particular part of the vehicle, or even dropping one or both shoulders, the officer may sense that you are trying to conceal something

In addition, if the officer actually places you under arrest—giving you a traffic ticket is not placing you under arrest—the officer may engage in a limited search to protect his or her safety or to gather any evidence related to the arrest. For example, if you have open containers in the vehicle, the officer may conduct a reasonable search to look for all such containers. If that search produces illegal drugs or an unlicensed weapon, the evidence may be admissible, as the search may be appropriate.

Contact the Law Office of Michael Curtis Greenberg

Don’t lose your license or go to jail. Let us fight to protect your rights!

There’s no charge for your first consultation. We are available to meet with you evenings and weekends, if necessary, and can travel to your home or to detention to discuss your case. We accept all credit cards, as well as PayPal.

To schedule an appointment, contact us by e-mail or call our office at (800) 608-1350.

Named One of the Top 100 New Jersey Criminal Trial Lawyers in 2015 by The American Society of Legal Advocates

What to Do When You Have Been Pulled Over by Police—Part Two—Your Initial Exchange with the Officer

traffice

You’re on the road and see flashers in your rearview mirror. You safely and promptly pull over to the side of the road. The next few moments will likely be critical, determining whether you’ll drive away with a warning, or with something worse. Here are some tips to help you through this stressful and intimidating situation.

  • Turn off your vehicle immediately—This signals the officer that you are not likely to provide resistance or to try to flee.
  • Turn on the interior light, if it’s after dark—Turning on your light indicates you have nothing to hide, and it can ease any anxiety the officer has.
  • Stay in your car!—This is perhaps the most important advice. If you try to get out of your car (without the officer’s request to do so), it can be perceived as an aggressive act.
  • Engage in acts of courtesy—Roll down the window before the officer gets to your car, put out your cigarette (if you were smoking), discard any gum and turn off the stereo.
  • Wait for the officer to ask questions or instruct you to do something—Don’t try to fish your registration out of the glove box or pull your wallet out of your pocket until the officer asks you to do so. The officer may be as nervous as you are—many officers have been seriously injured and killed in traffic stops—so don’t do anything that may be wrongly perceived as an aggressive act.

Contact the Law Office of Michael Curtis Greenberg

You don’t have to lose your license or go to jail. Let attorney Greenberg fight to protect your rights!

Your first consultation is free. We’ll meet with you evenings and weekends, if necessary, and can travel to your home or to detention to discuss your case. We take all credit cards, as well as PayPal.

For an appointment, contact us by e-mail or call our office at (800) 608-1350.

Named One of the Top 100 New Jersey Criminal Trial Lawyers in 2015 by The American Society of Legal Advocates

What to Do When You Have Been Pulled Over by Police—Part One

speed-limit

You’re driving down the road…maybe you were going a few miles over the speed limit—when suddenly you notice flashing lights in your rearview mirror. Whether you’ve never had a ticket before or you’ve had multiple DUIs, you’ll probably feel that moment of panic. But you need to pull it together and pay attention to what you say and do, as the initial moments after a traffic stop can make all the difference between a warning and something more serious.

Pull Over Quickly, But Safely

There’s a common misperception that, if you immediately pull over, you’re admitting your guilt—not true!! In fact, it’s more likely a sign that you were actually paying attention to the road. But don’t make things worse by coming to a screaming halt or putting others at risk. Ensure that you have an opening to get off the road. Furthermore, if you are on a narrow or extremely busy road, look for an exit or a parking lot you can pull into. The officer will likely be more flexible if it appears that you were concerned for his or her safety.

Also, make certain you obey all traffic laws as you pull over. Use your turn signal if you are going to change lanes, turn corners or just to pull over to the shoulder. If you pull onto the shoulder of the road, get as far to the right as you safely can, so that the officer can come to and stand at your vehicle without being in the road.

Contact the Law Office of Michael Curtis Greenberg

Don’t lose your license or go to jail. We will fight to protect your rights!

There’s no charge for your first consultation. We are available to meet with you evenings and weekends, if necessary, and can travel to your home or to detention to discuss your case. We accept all credit cards, as well as PayPal.

To schedule an appointment, contact us by e-mail or call our office at (800) 608-1350.

Named One of the Top 100 New Jersey Criminal Trial Lawyers in 2015 by The American Society of Legal Advocates

What Constitutes Reckless Driving?

What Is Reckless Driving in New Jersey?

Reckless Driving

Reckless driving is a serious motor vehicle infraction in New Jersey, with the potential to add five points to your driving record, as well as five insurance points. While your license will not automatically be suspended in the aftermath of a reckless driving conviction, the court does have the discretion to impose a temporary loss of driving privileges, and the conviction can cause you to accumulate enough points for probation or suspension of your license. In addition to the points, you may have to pay a fine (up to $200) and may be sentenced to jail time (60 days for a first offense, 90 days for a repeat offense).

Though reckless driving is commonly associated with driving while intoxicated or traveling at high rates of speed, the prosecutor does not have to show either of those factors to be present to obtain a conviction. Under the law, the state must show that you were operating a vehicle “heedlessly in willful or wanton disregard for the rights or safety of others” and that you were consciously aware that your driving posed a risk to the general public. You can be charged with reckless driving, even if there was no one anywhere near you, if your driving was likely to endanger a passenger, another person or property of any kind.

Many people often confuse reckless driving with “careless driving.” With reckless driving, the prosecution must show some form of intent, that you either knowingly or purposely endangered yourself and others. With careless driving, which carries a lesser penalty, the state needs only to show that you were negligent.

Contact the Law Office of Michael Curtis Greenberg

Don’t lose your license or go to jail. Let us fight to protect your rights!

There’s no charge for your first consultation. We are available to meet with you evenings and weekends, if necessary, and can travel to your home or to detention to discuss your case. We accept all credit cards, as well as PayPal.

To schedule an appointment, contact us by e-mail or call our office at (800) 608-1350.

 

Named One of the Top 100 New Jersey Criminal Trial Lawyers in 2015 by The American Society of Legal Advocates

Can You Beat a Speeding Ticket in New Jersey?

Speeding Ticket

It can happen to anyone. Maybe you’re lost in a new city, or you’re on the highway and you get distracted, whether by the scenery, another driver or something going on in your car. All of a sudden, you notice the flashers in your rearview mirror. You’ve been pulled over for speeding. Is all lost? Can you beat the ticket? Here are some tips to increase your chances of not having something on your permanent record.

    • Be extremely courteous and cooperative with the police officer—If you get the least bit combative, not only will the officer be less willing to let you off with a warning, but will be more likely to show up in court, should you decide to challenge the ticket. Take the opportunity to explain any extenuating circumstances—maybe it’s not your car that you are driving. If you typically drive an old beater and you’re using your parents’ Mercedes or a rental car, it might help the officer understand that this is not your typical M.O.
    • Write the officer a letter—If you don’t have the courage or fail to give the officer any explanation when you are ticketed, write him or her a letter, providing a full explanation. The officer may opt to drop the matter before you go to court.
    • Talk to the prosecutor before you go to court—You may be able to negotiate a plea where you pay a fine, but don’t accumulate any points on your record.
      Get your ducks in a row—Come to court with solid evidence to support your claim. Maybe the speed limit signs were hidden behind bushes or trees…bring pictures. If you have witnesses, bring them, too, even if they were in the car with you.

Contact the Law Office of Michael Curtis Greenberg

Don’t lose your license or go to jail. Let us fight to protect your rights!

There’s no charge for your first consultation. We are available to meet with you evenings and weekends, if necessary, and can travel to your home or to detention to discuss your case. We accept all credit cards, as well as PayPal.

To schedule an appointment, contact us by e-mail or call our office at (800) 608-1350.

 

Named One of the Top 100 New Jersey Criminal Trial Lawyers in 2015 by The American Society of Legal Advocates

The Penalties of DUI & DWI in New Jersey

Young man in handcuffs

The following are penalties for driving under the influence; they vary according to BAC level and how many times you’ve been caught:

First offense with BAC of 0.08% but less than 0.10%:

  • License suspension: 3 months
  • Imprisonment: Maximum 30 days
  • Fine: $250 to $400
  • Intoxicated Driver Resource Center (IDRC): Mandatory 12 to 48 hours
  • Intoxicated Driver Resource Center (IDRC) Fee: $230
  • Alcohol Education and Rehabilitation Fund Fee: $100
  • Drunk Driving Fund: $100
  • Neighborhood Services Fund: $75
  • Surcharges: $1,000 per year for 3 years

First offense with BAC of 0.10% or higher:

  • License suspension: 7 to 12 months
  • Imprisonment: Maximum 30 days
  • Fine: $300 to $500
  • Intoxicated Driver Resource Center (IDRC): Mandatory 12 to 48 hours
  • Intoxicated Driver Resource Center (IDRC) Fee: $230
  • Alcohol Education and Rehabilitation Fund Fee: $100
  • Drunk Driving Fund: $100
  • Neighborhood Services Fund: $75
  • Surcharges: $1,000 per year for 3 years.
  • Ignition Interlock Device (IID): 6 months to 1 year after license is restored if BAC was 0.15% or over.

First offense DUI under 21 years old:

If you are under 21 years old and you drive with a BAC of anything over 0.01% you may face all of the fines and imprisonments times above and:

  • License suspension: 30 to 90 days.
  • Community service: 15 to 30 days.
  • Mandatory Alcohol and Highway Safety Education with IDRC.

If you are not licensed and under 17 years old at the time of the charges your license processing may take an additional 30 to 90 days.

Second offenses carry harsher imprisonment times as well as higher fines.

 

The IDRC

The state has a resource center in every county for first and third offenders and three regional centres for second offenders. Each offender attends an alcohol and highway safety education program at a center and is evaluated for an alcohol or drug problem. If treatment is required then the offender must complete a minimum of 16 weeks in a program.

The offender also has an opportunity to supplement this treatment with attendance at a self-help group. The centres monitor compliance and report any noncompliance to the courts and to Motor Vehicle Commission. Failure to comply on the part of the offender results in further license suspension and a possible jail sentence as well.

 

The Ignition Interlock Device (IID)

DUI offenders will be required to have a ignition interlock device installed if you BAC was 0.15% or over and or this is not your first DUI. If this is not your first DUI then you may be required to have an IID in your vehicle while your license is suspended and then for 1 to 3 years after your license is restored.

In this situation, the driver must blow into the device, and the vehicle will not start if that person’s blood alcohol content exceeds a certain level.

If you are required to have an interlock installed, you must present proof of installation in person at a Regional Service Center for restoration of your driving privilege.

 

Driver’s License Reinstatement

Once your suspension period is over you will receive a Notice of Restoration from the MVC. The first step to restoring your license is to pay the $100 restoration fee. You can do this online, in person or by mail. Once you have paid your fee you will have to complete all the steps for a driver’s license renewal and any other requirements on your Notice of Restoration.

Ways to Minimize the Risk of a DUI This Summer

Young man in handcuffs

It’s summer—time to get out the grill, throw some steaks on and have a few beers. But an arrest for drinking and driving can ruin your entire year. Here are some tips to help you avoid all the negative repercussions associated with a DUI.

 

Don’t Drink and Drive—Period

It’s the simplest, but also the hardest, advice to follow. Drink only at your own home or when you know that you won’t be behind the wheel. That way, you don’t have to worry about whether to have a second beer when you’re thirsty, or to have that high gravity microbrew your buddy has been talking about all week. If it’s simply not possible to abstain when you go to the cookout, don’t be afraid to call a cab to take you home. In the long run, it will be far cheaper than a DUI.

 

Have the Party at Your House!

This way, you can have your cake and eat it, too! The only caveat—be careful not to serve alcohol to anyone who appears visibly intoxicated, or to serve large quantities of alcohol to anyone. You might find yourself as a defendant in a dram shop/social host liability lawsuit if that person causes injury to another person.

 

Don’t Make Your Vehicle Stand Out!

The police have to have probable cause to pull you over, but that can be for something as simple as a burned-out tail light, or expired tags on your car. If the officer pulls you over for any legitimate reason, and smells alcohol on your breath, or reasonably suspects that you have been drinking, you can be subjected to a field sobriety test and a blood alcohol test. Make certain everything works properly and that your license and tags are current.

 

Contact the Law Office of Michael Curtis Greenberg

Don’t lose your license or go to jail. We will fight to protect your rights!
There’s no charge for your first consultation. We are available to meet with you evenings and weekends, if necessary, and can travel to your home or to detention to discuss your case. We accept all credit cards, as well as PayPal.

 

To schedule an appointment, contact us by e-mail or call our office at (800) 608-1350.

 

Named One of the Top 100 New Jersey Criminal Trial Lawyers in 2015 by The American Society of Legal Advocates

North Penn Operates Sobriety Checkpoints

Sobriety Checkpoints Set Up in North Philadelphia

Sobriety

Officials at the North Penn DUI Enforcement Team ran sobriety checkpoints in North Penn, Towamencin and Hatfield in mid-September, setting up roadblocks at strategic points in Montgomery County in an effort to get impaired drivers off the county’s streets. According to Hatfield police chief William J. Tierney, they also mobilized roving DUI patrols, focusing primarily on state roads 63, 113, 309 and 463. A spokesperson said the locations chosen were sites where unsafe driving and alcohol-related crashes have occurred in the past. Officials also said they checked for compliance with a number of other laws, including proper use of child restraint, proof of insurance, valid operator’s license and vehicle registration.

The Constitutionality of Sobriety Checkpoints

Though 12 states have found sobriety checkpoints to violate the provisions of the 4th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution (banning illegal search and seizure), such operations are legal in Pennsylvania. Under the 4th Amendment, a law enforcement officer must have “probable cause” to make a traffic stop, so that police generally cannot randomly stop motorists to determine if they are violating the law. The U.S. Supreme Court, though, has carved out an exception to the requirement of probable cause for sobriety checkpoints, ruling that the risks inherent in drinking and driving outweigh the potential invasion of privacy afforded by the Constitution.

As a general rule, the states, such as Pennsylvania, that still allow sobriety checkpoints impose guidelines for law enforcement agencies to follow when setting up such operations. One of the most common is the requirement that police provide advance notice that checkpoints will be set up.

Contact the Law Office of Michael Curtis Greenberg

Don’t lose your license or go to jail. Let us fight to protect your rights!

There’s no charge for your first consultation. We are available to meet with you evenings and weekends, if necessary, and can travel to your home or to detention to discuss your case. We accept all credit cards, as well as PayPal.

To schedule an appointment, contact us by e-mail or call our office at (800) 608-1350.

Named One of the Top 100 New Jersey Criminal Trial Lawyers in 2015 by The American Society of Legal Advocates

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