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The Law Office of Marc J. Semke
A Criminal Defense And Youth Advocacy Firm In York, Pennsylvania
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York Legal Blog

How do Pennsylvania DUI laws rank in terms of strictness?

The consumer website WalletHub ranked all 50 states (and the District of Columbia) for in terms of the states' harshness of penalties for a DUI conviction. Pennsylvania came in near the bottom at No. 43, tied with Michigan.

Here are the top five and bottom five: 

License suspension or revocation doesn't have to ruin your life

Losing your license to drive, whether temporarily or permanently, is among the most common penalties for driving offenses.

License suspension or revocation can follow from charges of driving recklessly or under the influence, or refusing to take a breath, urine or blood sobriety test after a stop. Sometimes, the charges may not seem directly driving-related, such as drug possession or underage drinking.

Underage drinking and driving: penalties in Pennsylvania

When you are under 21, it can be tempting to drink, especially if you have friends who are of legal age. The pressure to fit in is heavy and could lead to getting behind the wheel after consuming alcohol. If the police pull you over and find that you are driving under the influence of alcohol, they can charge you with underage driving under the influence (DUI).

According to MADD, Mothers Against Drunk Driving, roughly one-fourth of all crashes involve an underage driver who has been drinking. What are the penalties for this charge?

Understanding Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition

You may have heard of Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition if you or someone you know is facing DUI charges for the first time. This program may be beneficial if the offense was your first. You may be wondering what ARD is and how it works.

Accelerated rehabilitative disposition is a “pre-trial diversionary” program that is unique to Pennsylvania. The program encourages offenders to make a fresh start and offers the possibility of a clean record following successful completion of the program.

Possible defenses to underage drinking charges

The legal age to consume alcohol in Pennsylvania is one of the most widely known laws in the state. Simply put, it is illegal for people under the age of 21 to possess or consume alcoholic beverages. A person who violates the law could be subject to mandatory fines, alcohol treatment programs or both. This is in addition to having a criminal record that can follow you for years.

Because the violation of underage drinking statutes is a strict liability offense (i.e., no intent is required to be proven), most may believe that they are immediately guilty, but this may not always be the case. Pennsylvania law allows for several affirmative defenses that can be asserted to avoid a conviction.

What happens if I get a second DUI in Pennsylvania?

Getting a DUI for the first time can be a stressful event. A second time can feel even worse. We've discussed what happens on a first offense, but it's important to know how a second offense could impact you.

Second offenses are still subject to the three-tiered blood alcohol content (BAC) definitions, but the fines and penalties increase with each subsequent offense.

Minor drug offenders in PA fight to keep their licenses

The 14th amendment to the United States Constitution declares that no state shall “deny to any person…equal protection of the laws.” Yet some Pennsylvania residents are arguing that punishments for minor drug convictions violate the 14th amendment.

Here is why some are saying that it’s time Pennsylvania changes its approach to punishing minor drug offenders.

Making the law work for you, not against you

When you are pulled over for DUI or charged with possession, you may feel that the system of law has turned against you. Arrest leads to conviction, which leads to punishment, and permanent damage to your reputation.

It is a depressing prospect. But you do not need to be defenseless. In York, Camp Hill or throughout the Harrisburg region, Marc Semke has been putting the law on the side of citizens, including young citizens, for more than a decade.

Diversion programs can dispel underage DUI charges

Being convicted of a DUI as a minor could drastically affect your child’s future. If he or she is arrested for drunk driving, you may have an alternative to fighting the case in court. The accelerated rehabilitative disposition (ARD) program allows first-time offenders, both adults and minors, to avoid a mark on their records if they successfully complete the program.