If you have ever been cited for driving while intoxicated or a DUI (Driving Under the Influence), you know that your driving privileges get suspended for a certain period of time, depending upon your blood/alcohol level. So what happens if you are then caught driving with a suspended license?
If you've pled guilty or have been convicted of a DUI, odds are that your driver's license has been suspended. It is standard operating procedure in the Pennsylvania judicial system to revoke the driving privileges of those that are guilty of driving under the influence. However, if you are caught driving while your license is suspended, you are opening yourself up to additional sanctions.
When a client comes to me to discuss a DUI, there is always confusion regarding the officer's use of field sobriety tests. First, a field sobriety test is just one tool at the officer's disposal in forming probable cause to make an arrest for DUI. Pennsylvania courts have determined that reasonable grounds to arrest do not require the failure of a field sobriety test. Officers may use other indicators such as an odor of alcohol, disorientation or bloodshot eyes to establish probable cause. In addition, officers have breathalyzers available if the driver consents to submitting to one.
Each time you renew your driver's license in Pennsylvania, you sign a form that permits the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to draw blood, breath or urine if you arrested by police for driving under the influence. This form of permission given by you to the Commonwealth is known as the Implied Consent Law. According to this law, if you refuse to provide the police with a blood, breath or urine sample in conjunction with a DUI, your license will automatically be suspended for one year.
In Pennsylvania, if you plead guilty to or are convicted of a second or subsequent DUI, one of the consequences of your conviction is that you will have to have an Ignition Interlock device installed in your vehicle. The Ignition Interlock is a piece of equipment that prohibits a person from starting a vehicle if he or she has been drinking. A driver is required to blow into the device before he or she attempts to start the engine. If there is no alcohol on the driver's breath, the vehicle will start as usual. However, if the device detects alcohol, it will prevent the ignition from firing and the vehicle will not start. Additionally, throughout the course of the drive, the device will prompt the driver to blow into it to ensure that he or she does not drink alcohol after the car is started.
One of the consequences of driving under the influence of alcohol ("DUI") is that your driver's license is typically suspended. Depending on how intoxicated you were at the time of your arrest and how many previous DUI's you have had, the length of the license suspension varies widely. However, regardless of whether your suspension is 30 days or 18 months, it is extremely important to not risk driving during the suspension.
If you have not heard about it, you will! Recently, a Daughin County Common Pleas Court Judge ruled that certain breathalyzer machines used by the police when stopping an individual suspected of driving while intoxicated are flawed and not reliable for readings above .15 and below .05. Accordingly, the Police Department, in an attempt to keep every DUI stop out of court, has decided that all possible DUI prospects will now be subjected to a blood test.
Police departments in Pennsylvania are increasingly using DUI checkpoints as a tool to deter drunk driving and catch impaired drivers. While the courts have found these types of roadblocks to be perfectly legal, if the police fail to follow certain protocols established by the courts, it is possible to successfully defend charges brought against you as a result being caught at a checkpoint.
A recent DUI article in the Trib Live News , reported that a gentleman from Herminie Pennsylvania, slammed into a church will under the influence of alcohol. How far under? Try nearly 4 times. That's right. Mark D. Stevens 44 had a blood alcohol limit of .3 when his car hit the church. Of course the legal limit for driving under the influence of alcohol in Pennsylvania is .08.