Driving under the influence is a charge that sometimes comes with other offenses. DUI opens the door to a whole host of other crimes when the driver causes an accident, people are injured, property is damaged, or if a driver attempts to flee the scene. The nature of a driver’s case determines the charges that he faces. The more offenses the driver is charged with, the more severe the penalties. Some charges that are common in relation to a DUI include hit and run, fleeing the police, public intoxication, and implied consent.
It is illegal in Pennsylvania to be in a public place and appear to be drunk or under the influence of drugs and behaving in a way that is dangerous. According to the law, you are guilty of public intoxication if you do one of the following:
- Annoy the people around you
- Endanger yourself
- Endanger someone else
The law says that a public place is anywhere that the public can go. This means that if you are in a privately owned area, but that area is accessible to the general public, like a gated community or the common areas of an apartment complex, you could be charged with public intoxication if you cause a disturbance.
Public intoxication is considered to be a summary offense. It comes with a fine of up to $500, unless it is a second or subsequent offense, in which case the fine will be higher.
Hit and Run
When a person is aware that they have caused an accident because of the drugs or alcohol they have consumed, their mind immediately goes to the consequences that they will face if they get arrested. Sometimes these frightening thoughts will cause a person to leave the accident scene, hoping to avoid punishment. This is known as a hit and run, and will lead to worse penalties in the end. This crime is taken very seriously by judges and by prosecutors.
Depending upon the factors of a case, hit and run is considered either a felony or a misdemeanor. Either way, the punishments for the crime are serious. If the accident caused damage only to property, the driver will face a third-degree misdemeanor. The punishment is up to a year in jail and fines as high as $2,500.
If the accident caused an injury to a person other than the driver, the hit and run charge will be a third-degree felony. The punishment for this charge is up to seven years in prison and fines as high as $1,000.
If a person is killed in the accident that the driver flees from, the charge becomes a third-degree felony, which carries with it a jail term of up to seven years and fines as high as $2,500.
Fleeing the Police
Hearing the siren and seeing flashing lights behind you after you have caused an accident can be frightening. Often, people panic and flee in this situation, especially if they think the drugs or alcohol they have consumed has caused the accident. If you flee from an accident and the cops chase you, and it turns into a full-out high-speed chase, when you are caught you will be charged with fleeing the police. This is an offense that officers, judges, and prosecutors take very seriously.
Even without an accident involved, you can be charged with eluding the police if you do not pull over after a cop has signaled to you to do so. Pennsylvania law indicates that the signal could be a hand signal, an officer's voice, or through a siren or emergency lights. If the officer says that you have ignored any of those, you could be charged with fleeing and eluding the police.
Most often, fleeing the police is considered to be a second-degree misdemeanor, and comes with a jail sentence of at least two years and fines as high as $2,000. If a driver tries to flee, and that attempt turns into a high-speed chase that endangers other drivers, crosses state lines, or if it is later proven that the driver was drunk or high on drugs, the charge becomes a third-degree felony. The punishment for this crime is seven years in prison and a minimum fine of $15,000.
Other possible consequences for fleeing the police include suspending of a driver's license.
Implied Consent Law
Many people don't know that Pennsylvania requires anyone with a driver's license to submit to blood, breath, urine, or chemical testing when an officer requests it. If a car is pulled over and the driver is suspected to be driving under the influence, he or she is allowed to refuse to take the sobriety test given by the side of the road, but the other testing is not optional. Before a driver can be charged with an implied consent charge, prosecutors must prove that the officer warned the driver of what would happen if he refused. The consequence for refusing one of those tests is the suspension of the driver's license for a full year. If the driver was not warned, this charge can't go forward.
Additional offenses after the first violation come with an 18-month license suspension.
If you are facing one of the above charges, you need an attorney to represent you who has been thoroughly trained in DUI law and procedures, and who is not afraid to push back against the prosecutors in the case. Sean Logue and his associates at Logue Law are Pittsburgh criminal defense attorneys that have the training and dedication you need. They will aggressively fight to get you the best possible outcome. They can be reached at (412) 612-2210 or 412-389-0805. They can also be contacted online here. They offer free initial consultations. Logue Law serves Pittsburgh, PA, Ohio, and West Virginia.