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: I let my friend use my jeep and he does not have a license. He and a licensed driver switched seats before the police were able to get behind the jeep. The officer says he saw the switch. There is no video evidence it. It is two people’s word against the police officer. Is there any hope of fighting the ticket and winning?
A: In most states there does not have to be video in order for probable cause to be supported or an arrest to be legal. Some progressive departments routinely use it and I understand even a few have a policy in place. Unless this police department routinely uses video in traffic stops or has a policy to do so, and for some unexplained reason, this officer did not use the camera, the officer’s word may likely be believed over your friends, by a judge or jury. However, if your attorney can establish other evidence through skillful cross examination, for example, the officer wasn’t in position to make the observation, there are discrepancies in the police report, etc., who knows, your friend may be able to establish reasonable doubt. He should review this situation with an attorney. One thing you need to be aware of is that you can be cited for lending an automobile to someone who you know does not have a valid license. You therefore should not make any statements to the police.