A judge in the Berks County magisterial district was recently arrested for driving under the influence and careless driving. Reading police say they received a call complaining about a car swerving into oncoming traffic while it was driving down Kutztown Road and North Ninth Street, both within city limits. When the police pulled her over, they noticed she was likely intoxicated.
The responding officers said they could smell alcohol on her breath. When they conducted field sobriety tests, they determined she may have been driving under the influence. As such, they arrested the judge and took her to the Penn State St. Joseph Medical Center. There, a blood test revealed her blood alcohol content was .188 percent. The legal limit in Pennsylvania is 0.08 percent.
Before the DUI
Before the judge got behind the wheel, she was allegedly drinking at a bar in Muhlenberg Township. At one point in the night, she placed her head on the bar to rest. The person who called in the complaint about the judge’s driving was also at the bar at the time and left at the same time she did. The witness recorded some of the event.
According to police, the judge did not try to pull any strings to get her DUI dismissed. Her father, the mayor of Reading, also stayed out of the investigation. The judge’s attorney said the judge fully cooperated with the investigation. Additionally, the Reading police chief said she is being treated as any other citizen would be.
This is not the first time a Berks County magisterial district judge has been charged in a criminal case. In May 2016, a different judge was charged with stealing over $100,000 from a volunteer fire company and his own court.
Pennsylvania’s Dram Laws
The State of Pennsylvania does have laws on the books regarding bars serving patrons who are visibly intoxicated. In this case, the judge showed she was visibly intoxicated by putting her head down on the bar. However, due to the circumstances of the judge’s arrest, the so-called “dram shop laws” do not come into play, which is good news for the bar in which she was drinking.
Dram shop laws typically only come into effect if the intoxicated person causes injury to another person. The judge did potentially come close to injuring another driver by swerving in and out of oncoming traffic. But, because she was arrested before such an incident could occur, the bar is likely off the hook for over-serving a patron.
Though the bar may be out of hot water, the judge is not. She is expected in court next week, and could face serious consequences, including jail time, fines and even being disbarred. While you may not be facing disbarment for a DUI, you could face other severe punishments and ramifications if you are convicted. That’s why it’s crucial you have an experienced attorney by your side. If you are arrested for DUI in Pennsylvania, contact Steven E. Kellis today for a free, no-obligation consultation.