Q: I got a DUI at college Johnstown. I want to apply for early termination of my DUI probation. I filed the motion, my lawyer was late on court day just to tell me that the DA has papers stating there is a no early termination of probation clause in my DUI plea papers. Is there a way to remove this from the order? All my fines are all paid, my supervision is completely up to date and over paid. I’ve met every requirement asked and have completely made a 180 in my life. I want to create a better life for myself but they make it difficult. For me to move, there are many hoops to jump through and a great deal of money to be lost. Any help/suggestions are more than acceptable! (Monroeville, PA)
A: You can only change an order with a new order that vacates or modified the prior one. Every county is different but what it sounds like to me is that the DA objects to closing your case early. The DA doesn’t make the decision, the judge does. However, if the DA will not agree to it the judge most likely not either. Legally, the judge could deny you based on well-grounded law that says the judge has no jurisdiction to modify a sentence after 30 days. The DA could be viewing this as such an attempt to modify your sentence or even go back on your plea agreement. In that case, it would be a waste of time to present such a motion. I would ask your attorney if he or she thinks it is worth going forward with the petition to the judge regardless of the DA’s position. Your lawyer should know the history of the judge and the practice norms in your criminal court house enough to properly advise you.
Q: I was charged for a DUI in February of 2016, I completed all the necessary steps for the Chester County ARD program and I am off probation. This past weekend I received a public drunkenness citation in Dauphin County, will this citation affect my previously completed ARD program? Additionally, will deciding to go to trial make the charge any worse than it already is?
A: f you were off probation and your case was closed, this new non-traffic summary offense will not constitute a violation of ARD probation and result in a revocation. If you were off probation, but for some reason your case is not closed, you may have a problem. Electing to plead not-guilty and defend yourself on any criminal charge is your right, and should not make the punishment worse. However, if you have no defense and are offered a withdrawal of the charge if you complete a program or community service, take the deal. District Justices, as most judges, do not like people who waste the court’s time with trials when they are obviously guilty. If you do this, yes, some judges may max you out on the fine.
Q: I live in Pennsylvania and was attending a wedding California in October 2016. After the arrest, I hired a Sonoma lawyer. I am being told to accept informal probation and I am curious how this could affect my life in PA. Is it public record? Also, I am going through a messy divorce with an 8-year-old so I don’t want this used against me. Thank You. (Pittsburgh, PA)
A: You need to determine if you are entering a plea agreement for a first-time offender’s program that leaves you with no criminal record, like ARD in PA. If that is not the case, my best guess is that you will have a criminal record for a DUI which will be part of a national database. PA will know about it. There is a law called the Interstate Compact, through which all states share information. Also, any driver’s licensing penalties related to a DUI conviction in CA will be imposed by PA. I think you need to call the CA attorney and verify more details as to your plea agreement.
Q: My little sister just passed away and my mind was not in the right place and I was driving drunk and crashed into a neighborhood pool (closed). This is my first mess up on probation and I never been in jail. Do you think I’ll get longer probation or jail time?
A: Much more information would need to be known before any lawyer can answer this question. I suggest you consult with a lawyer immediately. In Allegheny County with a DUI, if you are not ARD eligible, you may receive alternative housing or possibly house arrest, but jail is a possibility too. Again, more information is needed. As you are aware, your probation judge can treat your DUI offense committed while on his or her probation as a probation violation and potentially sentence you to jail or extended probation.
Q: I was charged with DUI and my lawyer wanted to challenge the stop because the cop has a reputation of pulling people over on “hunches”. (the judge ruled the stop was legal). All my paperwork says that I am being charged with DUI 1st offense. Now, 10 months later the court changed my charge from dui 1st offense to DUI 3rd offense. I only found out about this because I looked up my court status online at the clerk of courts. How does the court get an elementary school “do over” when this thing went on for months as a 1st offense?
A: I would need more information to give you a specific answer. However, it sounds like the DA just discovered your prior two DUI’s. They can amend the information when they receive new evidence. This can happen especially if the prior convictions were out of state. Your counsel can object to an amendment of the Criminal Information (charges). However, I don’t know if that would be a valid defense if a jury has not been sworn in and double jeopardy has attached. I believe the Commonwealth can amend their Criminal Information (charges) upon discovering new information. You either have two priors or you don’t have two priors.
Q: I was given ARD probation of one-year for a DUI. This is my tenth month on ARD and have completed all the conditions of my ARD program except for the 30 hours of community service, which I will complete before my ARD term is over. The only other condition I have not completed is the $3,000 in fines and restitution. I am a student and working every day to get a job.
A: You do not want to lose your ARD. Try to get an extension from the ARD probation officer. If you are summoned to the court for an ARD revocation hearing, be prepared. If you cannot afford counsel, bring all records of your bills, and income to prove to the judge that you are trying but are financially limited.
Q: I am in an out of state prison now, due to some bad decisions that I made. I went through Therapeutic Community in the DOC. It was like brainwashing, but I was top of my class. I want to know if this is equivalent, or better than what the DUI court in Allegheny County has ordered be taken and accomplished. And if it qualifies, who do I fax completion forms to.
A: Call Allegheny County Clerk of Courts and ask for the person who handles Act 122 compliance. That person will know. You can also write to him or her.
Q: This is my 1st offense DUI with no injuries but I did refuse the breath test. I don’t live in PA. I live in Michigan. If I’m found guilty or I plead guilty what will my penalty be? Jail time? Fines? I posted a $2000 cash bond. Also, would they extradite from Michigan for failing to appear on it? I guess I’m just asking what I’ll get if found guilty and or if they will extradite? A: Whatever you do, do not blow this off. Get an attorney in Pittsburgh and get advice. Not appearing in court here will end up with a warrant for your arrest which will be active in Michigan. They will not come looking for you with the task force. However, if you have contact with police in Michigan or anywhere, even for something as harmless as a traffic ticket, if they see the warrant, they will take you to jail. You will wait at least 20 days in jail to see if PA will extradite you, which they probably won’t. Handle this now. If you have no prior record, you may be eligible for a first-time offender’s program called Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD) which will be like a slap on the wrist, albeit an expensive one. There is no jail time, and more importantly no conviction on your record if you complete the program successfully. Unfortunately, the refusal of the BAC testing will hurt. It is a one year license suspension which will be sent from PennDOT to the DMV in Michigan for enforcement according to Michigan law. I suggest a DUI bicycle. Michigan is relatively flat.
Q: I have been charged with DUI, due to being on prescribed medications. I was arrested and charged only after an officer pulled up behind me because I had a flat tire. My public defender is now refusing to meet with me prior to the morning of my trial date to go over the state’s evidence. I was told that I would have the opportunity/right to go to the PD office to see the discovery, including the officers dash cam video. I’ve requested to make an appointment with my PD and she has refused. What can be done about this and is this illegal? I’ve been on the same prescribed meds for over 10 years and I even have notes from my prescribing doctors stating that they have never witnessed me act or appear “impaired” in any way and that I have always abided by their necessary drug testing and so forth. Even my Psychiatrist and Physician are shocked that I’ve been charged, especially since I wasn’t pulled over for appearing/driving impaired. I have absolutely no prior record at all and this situation just doesn’t seem right or fair, especially the refusal of my public defender to meet with me, prior to my trial date, to go over evidence I to subsequently build a fair and proper defense for my case.
A: You have the absolute right to see the evidence including the video and your attorney should obtain this evidence through discovery and take time to review it with you. The way you describe this, it sounds like you may have a defense. If the officer cannot say you smelled of alcohol, the Commonwealth must either 1) have an expert to say that the blood test revealed an amount of prescribed drugs in your system that was beyond the medically prescribed therapeutic level, and/or, 2) have the officer testify that your behavior and mannerisms rendered you incapable of safe driving. The dash cam video should shed some light on your behavior. If I was your counsel I would have your prescription information ready and your doctor as a witness. I would request to review the Commonwealth’s medical expert’s report. If you cannot hire private counsel, persist with your Public Defender. If she is not helping you, be polite, but insist on speaking with her supervisor.
Q: I got my 1st DUI. Yeah. I got 12-month ARD probation. Can I get it expunged after 6 months? My fines and restitution are paid off and I completed my ARD. I have professional licensure and don’t need an arrest record as public information.
A: Allegheny County’s ARD program will automatically expunge your arrest record when a person has completed all the terms and conditions of probation. They do not expunge until you are finished. You can petition the court to close your case early if you have completed all the requirements and have paid all costs and fines. You would need to have a lawyer petition to close your case. Before doing so that lawyer can ask the probation officer and the Assistant DA if they agree, which will increase your chances of the judge issuing an order to close your case.