The offense of driving under the influence is often times charged alongside other offenses. Operating a vehicle while impaired opens the door of an array of other crimes in circumstances when there is an accident, other individuals are injured, if any property is damaged, or if an alleged perpetrator attempts to flee the scene of a crime. The charges that a motorist receives is based on the nature of his or her case. But drivers who are pinned with multiple offenses will be facing severe penalties along with the already harsh penalties associated with a DUI in the state of Pennsylvania. Some offenses that are commonly charged in relation to a DUI are public intoxication, hit and run, fleeing the police and implied consent laws.
According to Pennsylvania statutes, appearing to be under the influence of alcohol or drugs in a public place is illegal when he or she is conducting themselves in a way is considered dangerous. The law explicitly states that an impaired individual is guilty of this offense if he or she does the following:
- Endangers themselves
- Endangers another person
- Annoys other individuals in the vicinity
Under this law, a “public place” is defined as a place that is accessible to the public. This means that in accordance with the law, an intoxicated person that causes a disturbance on property that is privately owned but is widely accessed by people, such as a gated neighborhood, for example, could lead to a public intoxication charge.
Public intoxication is a summary offense in Pennsylvania, which is punishable by a fine of up to $500. However, subsequent offenses result in costlier fines.
Hit and Run
When an individual is aware that their consumption of drugs or alcohol caused an accident, their mind is immediately flooded with thoughts of the impending legal ramifications they'll have to face if they are arrested. These scary thoughts could influence individuals to leave the scene of an accident, also legally known as a hit and run, to avoid the consequences. However, voiding your responsibility of stopping immediately after an accident and committing this offense only leads to harsher penalties in the end, especially since this crime is taken very seriously by prosecutors and judges.
A hit and run may be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony depending on the factors of a case. However, the consequences are still pretty severe. If an accident caused damage solely to property, a motorist will be charged with a third-degree misdemeanor, which is punishable by up to one year in prison and a fine up to $2,500.
But in cases when an accident resulted in the infliction of an injury to another individual, a hit and run offense will be charged as a third degree felony. This offense carries a prison sentence of up to seven years in prison and a fine of up to $1,000.
In instances when a hit and run is committed after a person is killed, this crime will also be charged as a third-degree felony. It is punishable by imprisonment of up to seven years and a fine of up to $2,500.
Fleeing the Police
Hearing those blaring sirens and seeing those bright red and blue lights flicker behind you after you caused an accident is undoubtedly a terrifying feeling. Some people may panic when the police attempt to pull them over after an accident - especially if they think that their impairment may have been the cause of this incident - and flee. In the event that your escape turns into a full-fledged high-speed chase and the police catch you, you can be charged with fleeing the police in Pennsylvania. And as expected, this an offense that is taken incredibly seriously.
Technically, an individual can be charged with this eluding or attempting to elude law enforcement if he or she does not intentionally pull over after receiving a signal from a police officer. Pennsylvania statutes claim that this signal could be communicated by hand, through a siren, emergency lights or by an officer's voice. If an officer reports that any of these indications have been ignored, you could be charged with this crime.
The standard offense for fleeing the police is classified as a second-degree misdemeanor, which carries penalties of at least 2 years in prison and a fine of up to $2,000. But if an individual's attempt to flee turns into a chase that endangers others, a driver crosses state lines while this chase is underway or is proven to have been driving impaired once caught, this offense becomes a third-degree felony. This is punishable by seven years spent in prison and a fine of at least $15,000.
Additional administrative punishments such as the suspension of a driver's license may be imposed if a person is charged and convicted of fleeing the police.
Implied Consent Law
Most people may not be aware that the state of Pennsylvania requires its residents to comply with blood, breath, urine or chemical testing upon the request of an officer. If an individual is pulled over on suspicion that he or she was driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, he or she is legally permitted to refuse to take roadside sobriety tests, however, the tests listed above are not up for debate. Before a person can be charged with this offense, it must be proven that an officer warned a motorist of the consequences of refusing a test, which is one a suspension of his or her license for an entire year. If there was no warning, a violation of this crime is not validated.
Subsequent offenses for violating the state's implied consent law is an 18-month license suspension.
Experienced Philadelphia DUI Defense Attorney
If you have been arrested for a DUI or any of the related offenses above, you should immediately contact an attorney. With the help of a legal professional, the likelihood of these charges being either be reduced or completely dismissed is maximized. Contact skilled attorney Joseph D. Lento today.