A collision involving a tractor-trailer and a Honda Odyssey minivan recently closed the southbound lanes of I-95 during morning rush hour, causing traffic to back up for hours in northeast Philadelphia. At approximately 4:15 a.m. on March 5, Nicholas Harris, a 24-year-old Wilmington man, was traveling southbound on I-95 in his minivan when he stopped his vehicle partially in the right-hand lane of the highway and partially on the right shoulder of the interstate. Meanwhile, 32-year-old Brandon Ballard of Philadelphia was driving a tractor-trailer in the right southbound lane when he suddenly swerved in order to avoid hitting Harris’ vehicle. Despite his efforts, Ballard sideswiped the van and ran off the road, causing the tractor-trailer to turn on its side in the ditch alongside the road.
As a result of the accident, Ballard was trapped inside the tractor-trailer for an hour before rescuers were able to free him. Ballard suffered major injuries in the accident, which were not specified by the media report. Following the accident, Harris, the driver of the stopped minivan, was arrested and charged with DUI.
While the exact nature of the DUI charges against Harris are unclear, the penalties that he may face if convicted depend largely on the exact DUI charge under Pennsylvania law and whether he has been convicted of other DUI or DUI-related charges in the past. For example, potential penalties may depend upon whether Harris was:
- generally impaired
- under a high rate of alcohol impairment (.10% – .15% BAC)
- under the highest rate of alcohol impairment (.16% or higher BAC)
While general impairment under Pennsylvania law does not require imprisonment, those individuals with higher levels of impairment will face mandatory minimum terms of incarceration. Additionally, penalties can include a mandatory driver’s license suspension, often for a lengthy period of time, as well as steep fines. Because the penalties are increasingly severe based on level of impairment, building a strong defense to any type of DUI charge is a necessity.
Fortunately, there are a number of different defenses that may be applicable. For instance, the prosecution must prove not only that you are intoxicated, but that you actually are driving while intoxicated, in order for you to be convicted of DUI. If you were arrested while simply sitting in your vehicle, then it is necessary for the prosecution to prove that you had been driving while intoxicated. Likewise, if a police officer arrests you for DUI without reading the required Miranda warnings to you, any statements that you made during the arrest to the officer might be suppressed, which means that they cannot be used against you in your DUI court proceedings. These are just a few examples of potential defenses that a Bucks County DUI attorney can use to help protect you against DUI charges and the possible penalties involved in a DUI conviction.
When you are facing DUI charges, you will need the services of an experienced Bucks County DUI lawyer. Contact The Law Offices of Steven E. Kellis, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, to schedule an appointment, and learn how you can best defend against DUI charges.