State College Criminal Defense Law Blog

Students have rights when facing campus discipline

If you’re facing disciplinary action from your university, it can be alarming and confusing, but it’s important to know that you have rights as a student. Public universities are government agencies that need to follow due process as established in the United States Constitution, so your rights are protected as such.

Any charges you may be facing on campus are different than charges you may be facing from law enforcement. Knowing your rights regarding campus procedures can help you better navigate the process ahead of you. The university will have procedures separate from those of law enforcement for determining responsibility, charges and sanctions from the institution.

Do you qualify for a diversion program?

You may qualify for a diversion program if you are facing certain charges. These diversion programs require you to complete certain conditions. Once the defendant meets the conditions, either the prosecutor or the court will dismiss the charges.

If you are a college student facing criminal charges for drugs or alcohol, you'll want to be aware of the two common diversion programs that can resolve your arrest charge without it appearing on your record.

Pennsylvania's New DUI Ignition Interlock Law

If you have been found to be driving under the influence of alcohol in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, it is likely that you are worried about losing your license.

It's important, therefore, that you take the time to understand how the law works when it comes to DUIs in Pennsylvania. Thanks to new legislation, it may be possible to face less severe consequences if you are either convicted of a DUI or are serving an ARD probation for DUI.

How has the law changed in Pennsylvania?

Under the new law, a driver convicted of a first offense DUI is immediately eligible to apply for an Ignition Interlock Limited License (ILLL) that would be issued 20 days after receipt of the petition by PennDot if all requirements have been met.

Drivers who are accepted into the ARD program in lieu of a conviction will be also eligible if they choose to have an ignition interlock system installed for the 30-60 day suspensions that result from some ARD cases.

Individuals who have a second DUI conviction within 10 years of the first offense will be eligible for an ILLL after serving 6 months of a 12 month suspension or 9 months of an 18 month suspension.

With regard to license suspensions that result from a refusal to provide a blood sample, an ILLL would be available after serving 6 months of the 12 month suspension.

The Ignition Interlock device must be used before the car starts, and it requires that the driver effectively performs a Breathalyzer test. Typical cost of installation is $800 to $1200.

If you have been charged with a DUI in Pennsylvania, it is important to explore your options in regard to alternative penalties. Please contact me for a free consultation. 

How to defend yourself against a drug charge

When you have been accused of possessing drugs or you have been found in the possession of drugs, you will likely be worried about how serious the consequences could be. The consequences can be serious enough to affect your entire life, but the charge will depend heavily on the type of drug you had in your possession and the quantity.

If you believe that you were not guilty of a crime, however, and you want to defend yourself in order to lessen the change or have the charge dismissed completely, there are several routes that you can go down in the state of Pennsylvania. The following are some of the most common defenses to drug possession accusations.

What are the consequences of reckless driving in Pennsylvania?

When you are a driver on the roads of Pennsylvania, you have certain legal obligations in order to keep other people on the road safe. Many of these obligations will be obvious: You should refrain from driving over the designated speed limit, you should not drive under the influence of alcohol and you should generally obey the rules of the road.

However, not all practices are quite so clear cut. This is true for what is perceived to be reckless driving. Reckless driving is a term that can be used for a broad number of actions, yet it is considered a major traffic violation in the state of Pennsylvania. It is important, therefore, that you understand what reckless driving means and the consequences of such an offense.

Understanding the texting and driving ban in Pennsylvania

We all know that when we are behind the wheel, we shouldn't be using our cellphones at the same time. Horror stories of fatal car crashes that occur while using Snapchat or updating Facebook statuses are rife in the media, yet most of us are still tempted to catch a quick glance of our screens every time we hear our phones buzz.

As well as the dangers of cellphone usage while driving, it is also illegal in the state of Pennsylvania. This means that if a police officer notices that you are using your phone while driving, they are able to pull you over and fine you on the spot.

Explaining a drunk driving checkpoint in Pennsylvania

Law enforcement officials across the state of Pennsylvania routinely conduct checkpoints to find drivers who are operating their vehicles under the influence of drugs or alcohol. These are known as DUI checkpoints. They most commonly occur on weekends and during holidays. They can also be held during the week. Either way, drivers should know what occurs during a DUI checkpoint in State College.

As you approach the checkpoint, one of the officers on scene will ask you to stop your vehicle. You will need to provide the officer with your driver's license, proof of insurance and vehicle registration. The officer will use this information to find out if you have any warrants out for your arrest.

Just how pervasive is underaged drinking around graduation time?

Many students are often in festive moods as they celebrate finishing high school and begin their foray into adulthood. Although it may be illegal to do so, this marks a time in which many underage individuals may consume alcoholic beverages.

The fact that many individuals younger than 21 consume alcohol illegally in the United States shouldn't surprise you. It's the most commonly abused drug among minors. One statistic recently reported by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that 11 percent of all alcohol consumed in the U.S. is drunk by those age 11 to 20.

Surcharges after a Pennsylvania traffic ticket

When you are faced with a traffic ticket in the state of Pennsylvania, you may be confused about the fines and penalties that you are subject to. If you with to contest the ticket, you may also be unsure as to whether you should pay the fine and expect to have it reimbursed later.

In the state of Pennsylvania, fines are the same rate across the entire state, but they vary from different states across the country. The will be determined by the violation that you are subject to.

Should you walk home from the party?

Most Penn State students know that they should not drink and drive. Operating a vehicle with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08 or above can result in DUI charges and serious consequences. This threat of criminal charges, and the high risk of accident and injury, may influence students to walk home after a night out instead of driving.

However, if you have had a few too many drinks in the course of a night, you may still face charges for walking home while drunk. Known as public intoxication, you can face up to a $500 fine for a first offense and up to a $1,000 fine for subsequent offenses. What should students know about Pennsylvania's public drunkenness laws?

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