Year: 2017

Medical Marijuana Close Up Cannabis Buds With Doctors Prescription For Weed

How a Ruling in Arizona Could Impact Medical Marijuana DUIs in Pennsylvania

A recent ruling in Arizona could impact the way that marijuana DUI cases are handled in Pennsylvania and throughout the country. According to the State Court of Appeals, a person who uses medical marijuana cannot be convicted of driving while impaired if there is no proof that the driver was, in fact, impaired.

It is thought to be a setback for prosecutors in the state where there is no law that determines just how much THC a person must have in their system to be considered impaired. An appellate judge, Diane Johnsen, wrote in her opinion, “And, according to evidence here, there is no scientific consensus about the concentration of THC that generally is sufficient to impair a human being.” In other words, there is no set level at which every person is too impaired by marijuana to drive a vehicle.

Previous Rulings in Arizona

In 2010, voters in Arizona approved a legislation that a legal user of marijuana could not be excused from driving under the influence simply because they hold a prescription for the drug.Read More

Handing over the keys to a used car

Can Police Give Me a DUI If I’m In My Driveway?

You’ve been out for a night on the town. You made the decision to drive yourself home. You’ve made it to your driveway and see a police car blocking your way out with its lights flashing. Your stomach drops but then you remember… you’re at home. There’s no way you can be in trouble now. Or can you?

Many people are under the mistaken belief that they can’t be charged for driving under the influence when they are in their own driveways. That may not necessarily be the case. Even if you are on your own property, you may be charged with driving under the influence. Let’s take a look at a recent case that made its way to the Michigan Supreme Court.

The Definition of “Driveway”

In this case, a man in Michigan was charged with driving under the influence after an officer, responding to a noise complaint, saw the man back out of his garage and then back in once he noticed the officer.Read More

Yellow Warning DUI Checkpoint Highway Road Sign

Is It Legal to Avoid a DUI Checkpoint?

You have gone out on the town, whether it was to a friend’s house or the local bar, and you are on your way home. You see signs and flashing lights and wonder what in the world could be going on. As you get closer, your stomach drops and you begin looking for any opportunity to turn around. You’ve run smack into a DUI checkpoint. What are your options?

Many people believe that they are required to move through the checkpoint simply because it is in place. The truth is that you are not legally required to travel through the checkpoint. Here’s what you need to know.

Turning Around

Once you’ve spotted the DUI checkpoint, you can certainly turn around to avoid it if it is safe to do so. Keep in mind, however, that police are used to people doing this. If you turn down a side street or even make a legal U-turn, you could get home without incident.Read More

Man hand drinking beer and holding car keys

How DUI Convictions Travel from State to State

So maybe you’re driving through another state for your holiday vacation and make a couple of choices you maybe shouldn’t have. As a result of those choices, you find yourself pulled over and arrested for driving under the influence. No big deal, right? After all, once you handle your business in that state, you are going home to live your life.

Not so fast.

People who get caught driving impaired in one state may not get off as easy as they think. The truth of the matter is that you may be dealing with not only the consequences in the state in which you were arrested, but in the state you live in as well. The reason for this sort of “double” punishment is what is known as consortium.

What Information Is Shared?

Most of the 50 states are part of a DUI information consortium. The good news is that while these states share information, the only information shared is of convictions, not arrests.Read More

Young handsome man passed out on sofa with pizza slice and beer can in his hand in messy room after party

The Levels of Intoxication

Most people are aware that alcohol affects everyone differently. We all have that friend that brags that they can “drink anyone under the table,” and they are right. They seem to be able to consume drink after drink without becoming sloppy drunk, while another friend has two drinks and is stumbling for the door.

While this is certainly an example, it is not the rule. People behave in a general way depending on their level of intoxication, giving law enforcement and medical professionals a good idea of just how drunk someone may be. Here are the levels of intoxication, beginning with the level at which it is illegal to drive, and how a typical person may behave:

0.08 – 0.09 Blood Alcohol Content (BAC): The person is slightly impaired. They have some difficulty maintaining their balance, their reaction time is slowed, and their vision and speech are no longer typical.Read More

close up of male friends drinking and clinking beer bottles at home

The Effects of Alcohol On a Teenage Mind

The adolescent brain is not a mature one. There is a reason that teenagers behave the way that they do, and it is because their brains are still developing. In fact, the human brain continues to develop into the mid 20s. The changing brain affects all aspects of a teenager’s behavior, from emotional intelligence to good judgment.

Teenagers, due to their developing brains, cannot handle alcohol in the same way an adult can. Not only can teenagers not handle alcohol appropriately, but alcohol can have a very real impact on the brain itself. Here is how alcohol affects the different areas of the teenage brain.

Cerebral Cortex

The cerebral cortex takes information from a person’s senses and interprets it appropriately. Alcohol slows down this interpretation. This means that a teenager may see a person in the road, for instance, and fail to brake in time because the brain is not able to quickly take that vision and process it as a hazard.Read More

Women taking pills inside her car while driving

DUI Versus DUI-Drugs In Pennsylvania

When you are charged with driving under the influence in Pennsylvania, you face stiff penalties. Even if the DUI is your first, you could be facing jail time, fines and court costs. While it’s true that many judges will take it a bit easier on someone without a criminal history, being arrested for DUI should not be taken lightly.

Driving under the influence, unlike what many people believe, does not strictly pertain to alcohol. A person can be charged with DUI if a law enforcement officer believes that the person is under the influence of any substance that has impaired the person’s ability to drive safely. That means that a person can be arrested for DUI if the office believes the person is under the influence of illegal or prescription drugs.

When the operator of a vehicle is charged with driving under the influence of drugs, or DUI-D, they are facing very serious consequences.Read More

Judge hitting gavel with paper at wooden table closeup

Should I Argue for a Better Plea Bargain?

Whether you watch crime dramas on television or have experience within the criminal justice system, chances are that you know at least something about plea bargains. A plea bargain is widely accepted as a way of avoiding harsher penalties after being accused of a crime. Even innocent people accept plea bargains as a way to quicken the pace of the criminal trial process and, at time, stay out of prison.

If you have been charged with a DUI, you may not want to face the uncertainty of a trial. That said, a plea bargain isn’t in your best interest if you don’t have a strong attorney arguing on your behalf. While some plea bargains will benefit the accused, some can make things worse. Here’s a brief rundown on what you should know.

Should I Accept the Standard Deal?

In many court systems throughout the country, there are what are known as standardized plea deals.Read More

Human arm with vial of drug with syringe in color

New York Opens Opiate Court

It’s no secret that the opioid addiction problem in the United States has reached epidemic proportions. The topic is in the news almost daily. Lawmakers and those who are tasked with enforcing the law are beginning to realize that the current problem cannot be dealt with like those in the past. Fines and incarceration are not going to cure the issue and people are looking for alternatives.

Several jurisdictions across the country have specialized drug courts. The state of New York took things to a new level last month when it instituted the country’s first opiate court. The court’s aim is to help offenders find treatment rather than lock them away.

Care Replaces Confinement

This first opiate court opened its doors on May 1 in Buffalo. Anyone who was arrested in the city was screened and those who tested positive were directed towards treatment. Their criminal cases were put on the back burner.Read More

Law concept, gavel, scale and books

Judge Heading to First-Time Offenders Program

A magistrate in Pennsylvania is accused of drunk driving and plans to apply for the state’s program for first-time offenders. According to reports, the 29-year-old district judge will apply to the Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition program. The program gives first-time offenders the chance to avoid jail time and have their records wiped clear of the DUI charges.

The Program’s Purpose

People make mistakes and many believe that a single bad decision should not ruin a person’s life. Such is the purpose of the Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition program. When an offender successfully completes the program, they avoid jail and are given the opportunity to clear their record of the current charges. The program not only works to benefit the offender, but the already overloaded dockets as well. When a person applies to and is accepted in the program, they avoid trials and other court proceedings.

Admission Into the Program

Admission into the program is not guaranteed.Read More