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State College Criminal Defense Law Blog

How a DUI affects college students

It’s Friday night and your college buddies suggest that you go out to the bar. You have plans the next morning, so you decide to drive so you can take off early. Instead, you end up having a few more drinks than you originally expected. Realizing that you’re out too late, you decide to quickly drive home and get some rest.

Unfortunately, you had one too many drinks and a police officer arrests you for a DUI on your way back to your apartment. The arrest alone is a scary situation, but you’re also worried about your future. How will your arrest affect your college status? Could your mistake get you expelled?

Pennsylvania man charged with assault over playground incident

Community members are often passionate about protecting their neighborhood. This often means being aware of the actions of others within the area and reporting anything suspicious or potentially illegal to the appropriate authorities. Unfortunately, a man in Pennsylvania is now facing an assault charge after he allegedly took matters into his own hands when police initially failed to respond to his calls about potential vandalism at a neighborhood playground.

The incident reportedly happened on a day in June. According to reports, the man is believed to have spotted two teenagers exiting an abandoned construction truck parked near a neighborhood park. The man reportedly called police to the scene, allegedly thinking the teens were vandalizing the truck. Reports claim that when officers failed to appear, the man confronted one of the teens.

How DUI checkpoints work in Pennsylvania could be changing

There has always been a debate surrounding the legality of using checkpoints as a way to check for drunk drivers. A recent court ruling could impact how these checkpoints work, and it may even affect some types of DUI cases. The ruling specifically pertained to checkpoints involving multiple Pennsylvania police departments, putting a stop to these going forward.

This ruling comes at a time when there are typically more police out monitoring driver behavior around the Fourth of July holiday. At this point, only police departments that have the ability to run checkpoints without outside assistance will be able to do so. The reason for this ruling is because when multiple departments are testing drivers and arresting drivers, it may cause conflict and confusion over jurisdiction. In order to work together on joint DUI checkpoints, there must be a joint agreement between departments and municipalities.

Lengthy investigation leads to drug charges for many people

Recently in Pennsylvania, a major investigation lead to the arrests of more than two dozen individuals. The investigation reached into two states, and the police are still looking for a handful of people suspected of delivering and selling drugs. At this point, 25 adults are facing drug charges and other criminal allegations, and there is a complaint against at least one juvenile connected with the case.

The investigation was so expansive that it involved several law enforcement groups from the state. Due to the fact that it crossed state lines, it also involved federal agencies and groups from neighboring states. According to the report, the investigation centered around operations related to the alleged trafficking and sale of substances that include heroin, marijuana, methamphetamine and fentanyl and more. 

The impact of a DUI on a person's potential teaching career

A conviction of a criminal offense comes with various consequences, and sometimes, these consequences can follow a person for the rest of his or her life. A DUI conviction can affect a person's career path, particularly for jobs that require a person to have good moral character. However, in Pennsylvania, a person can still successfully apply to teach with a DUI conviction on his or her record. 

The state does not allow individuals to teach who have a history of inappropriate contact with a minor. In fact, there are several different types of criminal offenses that do not preclude a person from having a successful teaching career. However, it is still important for everyone, regardless of his or her career aspirations, to present a strong defense against DUI charges. A blemish on a person's criminal record can affect various areas of his or her life outside of a career.

Cannabis training for police and what it means for drug charges

Pennsylvania legalized medical marijuana a few years ago, but law enforcement is still trying to figure out how to monitor for drugged driving and other related crimes. Police currently have no way to accurately verify whether someone with marijuana in his or her possession has a valid medical marijuana license, which may result in improper drug charges. Law enforcement is currently not able to access the database that keeps track of licensed medical marijuana users. 

One the reasons for this disconnect is because the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms is a federal agency, which does not recognize the state's medical marijuana law. This may complicate a person's ability to own a firearm, as the organization requires an applicant to answer honestly about his or her drug use. There is confusion in Pennsylvania about what law enforcement can do and how police officers can accurately charge individuals without violating constitutional rights.

Some drug charges no longer lead to suspension of license

Pennsylvania laws regarding various different types of drug offenses are strict, and if convicted, a person could face significant consequences. Up until very recently, one of those consequences including the suspension of that person's license. That is no longer the case, as recent changes in state law mean that a conviction of drug charges will not affect driving privileges.

The state was able to suspend a person's right to drive due to drug offenses that may have been completely unrelated to driving. Now, however, a person can keep his or her license, even if charged with or convicted of the use, sale or possession of controlled substances. This is good news for those who believed that old laws infringed on the rights of individuals facing certain drug-related crimes. 

Man facing drug charges after law enforcement pulls him over

A Pennsylvania driver finds himself in serious legal trouble after a routine traffic stop. The man was stopped by a police officer for having a headlight out. After speaking with the man, police allegedly noticed drug paraphernalia in his vehicle, and supposedly the man was not honest with police about his identity. He is now facing drug charges, driving with a suspended license and more.

According to police, the man acted suspiciously when law enforcement approached the outside of his vehicle. He informed the officer that he did not have his wallet with him at the time, and he allegedly gave him a false name. After the initial conversation with the defendant, the officer called for additional support to come to the scene. 

Think twice before using a fake ID

Being away at college is probably your first taste of independence as you experience the world on your own for the first time. Being away from home can be an invaluable experience as you learn to care for yourself and balance academic responsibilities with your social life.

If you’re under the age of 21, you may feel limited in the enjoyment of your newfound independence because you cannot go to the bars with your older friends yet. A fake ID may seem like a smart solution but it’s not, as the risks outweigh the benefits.

Field drug test kits are often notoriously unreliable

In college towns across Pennsylvania and the United States, police officers are on high alert for the types of crimes normally associated with college life – including drug possession. Unfortunately, while many police departments will gladly invest in officers and patrols, they aren’t willing to invest in quality field testing kits that help identify illegal drugs outside of a lab setting.

Too often, the end result is that “offenders” are arrested for possessing substances which are perfectly legal and not decidedly not drugs. In most cases, the errors are cleared up by further lab testing. But in the meantime, innocent people can spend weeks or months in jail because they can’t afford the high costs of bail.

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  • Centre County Bar Association
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