Articles Posted in DUI Blog

July 19, 2018

DUI Prescription Drugs

By Brian Manchester

More Common Than Ever: DUI Prescription Drugs

Recent surveys show Americans are taking more and more prescription drugs, and as such, police in Pennsylvania are stepping up their enforcement of prescription drug DUIs. You do not have to be drunk in order to be charged with a DUI. Rather, driving while taking common prescription drugs can lead to a Driving Under the Influence of Prescription Drugs, including:

  • Xanax
  • Ambien
  • Methadone
  • Prozac
  • Oxycodone
  • Valium
  • Klonopin
A Valid Prescription Can Land You In Jail

Many people are shocked to find out they can be convicted of Driving Under the Influence of Prescription Drugs even if they are taking the drug under a doctor’s valid prescription. Although the prescription is valid, the law has determined that certain drugs cause some impairment while driving, regardless of whether they are prescribed.

Additionally, the drug does not have to be one of the drugs listed above. Even drugs your doctor prescribed you pertaining to allergies, a cold, or sleeping can lead to a charge of Driving Under the Influence of Prescription Drugs.

The penalties of a conviction for Driving Under the Influence of Prescription Drugs for a first time offender are up to six months in jail, fines up to $5,000, and a 12 month suspension of your license. The penalties get progressively more severe for each prior DUI offense.

Given these penalties, it is crucial to obtain an experienced criminal defender to raise doubts about your guilt.

How We Get The Best Results For You

Brian Manchester has been trying DUI cases for 18 years, and knows which defenses commonly work. He has specific training in the pharmacology and pharmacokinetics of prescription drugs through hands on lab courses, not lectures in a CLE and he is currently one of less than 60 Certified Lawyer-Scientists through the American Chemical Society in the US. For a free consultation we can be contacted at 1-800-243-4878.

 

 

Posted in: DUI Blog , DUI While On Prescription Drugs ,

July 19, 2018

Homicide By Vehicle While DUI of Prescription Drugs

By Brian Manchester

Americans More Likely To Be Charged With Homicide By Vehicle While DUI of Prescription Drugs

Have you or someone you know been charged with Homicide by Vehicle While Driving Under the Influence of Prescription Drugs? This charge is also well-known as “Vehicular Homicide While DUI” or “Vehicular Manslaughter While DUI,” and has serious consequences of up to ten years in prison and a $25,000 fine for each death caused.

Recent surveys show Americans are taking more and more prescription drugs, and as such, police in Pennsylvania are stepping up their enforcement of prescription drug DUIs. Common prescription drugs that can lead to Vehicular Homicide while Driving Under the Influence of Prescription Drugs are:

  • Xanax
  • Ambien
  • Methadone
  • Prozac
  • Oxycodone
  • Valium
  • Klonopin
Second-Degree Felony

Homicide by Vehicle While DUI of Prescription Drugs is a second-degree felony, and the fact that the death was an accident does not mean the driver is innocent of the charge. The specific charge is codified into law as the following:

  • 3735. Homicide by vehicle while driving under influence.

(a)  Offense defined.–Any person who unintentionally causes the death of another person as the result of a violation of section 3802 (relating to driving under influence of alcohol or controlled substance) and who is convicted of violating section 3802 is guilty of a felony of the second degree when the violation is the cause of death and the sentencing court shall order the person to serve a minimum term of imprisonment of not less than three years. A consecutive three-year term of imprisonment shall be imposed for each victim whose death is the result of the violation of section 3802.

A Number Of Defenses Available

There are a number of defenses available in cases such as these. In fact many more so than alcohol. The point of prescription drugs is they are prescribed to treat a person for medical issues. More often than not a person on prescription drugs is worse off without them than with them.

Take Adderall for example. It is generally prescribed for attention deficit disorder. Well, a person taking Adderall is doing so to increase their focus, which driving requires. Then if something goes wrong, the government wants to say a person is impaired because they are taking a medication that in reality is designed to keep a person focused.

There is a lot of bad science used by the government in all DUI cases, especially in prescription medication DUI cases. Another example is the government wants to talk about the levels of drugs in a person’s blood.

It is well known in legitimate science that drug levels mean nothing by themselves. Drugs are not like alcohol where certain BAC limits usually show specific signs in people. In fact, the longer a person takes a prescription medication the more tolerant they get of it.

Hire An Attorney As Soon As Possible

Given the severity of this charge, it is crucial to hire a defense attorney as soon as possible, and ideally prior to speaking with the police. When someone dies in a traffic accident, police officers immediately arrive on the scene and will attempt to question you as part of their homicide investigation. You should be polite,but refrain from talking to the police until you have retained a criminal defense attorney to be present with you during all police communications.

As you can see, Vehicular Homicide while Driving Under the Influence of Prescription Drugs is a very serious offense, and it is important to know your options if charged with this crime. Do not assume you will be convicted.

We have specific training in the pharmacology and pharmacokinetics of drugs as well as the testing of them in the blood. My associates and myself will discuss with you in great detail all aspects of your case.

At Manchester & Associates we are experienced criminal defense attorneys that will fight for you and your rights. For a free consultation, we can be contacted at 1-800-243-4878.

 

Posted in: Vehicular Homicide While DUI ,

March 5, 2018

Some Defenses For Drug DUI Cases

By Brian Manchester

I was going over the latest PA Bulletin on the minimum detection levels for a case and I wanted to share some information about it because I often get calls on this topic. In summary, if a Schedule I, II, or III controlled substance is not on this list (attached) it isn’t admissible pursuant to 1547(c)(iv). Remember benzodiazepines are Schedule IV so they are not covered by this Bulletin.

There are a lot of controlled substances that my client allegedly consume that are not covered. Some of the more popular non-covered drugs are synthetic cannabinoids (marijuana) and synthetic cathinones (bath salts). The synthetic cannabinoids are too numerous to mention and new forms are coming out as quick as chemists can think of them. But too bad for the government. They are not listed so they don’t get in. One of the most popular synthetic cathinones I come across is Alpha-PVP. Again not listed so not admissible. One of the most popular drugs I see is buprenorphine (Suboxone) which is a Schedule III drug and its metabolite norbuprenorphine. As you can see from the attached bulletin no minimum level set by the Department of Health.

Another thing to look for are metabolites. As you can see Hydrocodone and its metabolite hydromorphone are listed. Oxycodone is listed but its metabolite oxymorphone isn’t. Why? Who knows but that is the government’s problem. The prosecutors I deal with always try to make metabolites look like another drug is in a person’s system and with that all of the negative implications that brings.

Posted in: Drug DUI Defenses , DUI Blog ,

December 4, 2017

Consequences For Refusing A Breathalyzer Test

By Brian Manchester

In Pennsylvania, there are two ways that the Commonwealth can gather evidence that will result in a Blood Alcohol Concentration Level:

  1. Blood test.
  2. Breath test.

Now it is important to differentiate that there are two different types of breath test.

There is the portable breath test that officers give to you on the side of the road, this test can be refused if you so choose. Then there is the breath test at the police station. This test can also be refused, but if you refuse it, the Court and Legislature will rule that you are to be charged under the DUI statute in Pennsylvania. Then, you will face an additional license suspension for the refusal through PennDOT.

According to Pennsylvania’s implied consent statute, “Any person who drives, operates or is in actual physical control of the movement of a vehicle in this Commonwealth shall be deemed to have given consent to one or more chemical tests…” in order to determine the blood alcohol content (BAC).

If you refuse to submit to the breathalyzer test, you will have your driver’s license suspended for at least 12 months or 18 months if you have a previous refusal or DUI. This is a civil license suspension through PennDOT and has nothing to do with the criminal penalties involved.

Challenges To a Breath Test

Certain guidelines must be followed for the administration of a Breathalyzer test. If these guidelines were not followed, then the test results can be invalidated and thrown out in Court. Challenges that may be made include:

  • You were not observed by a law enforcement officer for 20 minutes prior to the administration of the test.
  • The administrator of the test was not properly certified.
  • The machine was not properly calibrated.
  • There were not two consecutive tests conducted.
  • The test was not properly administered.

What Should You Do If Charged With a DUI?

It is extremely important to contact an experienced law firm right away in you or someone you know is charged with Driving Under the Influence in Pennsylvania. If you, your son, daughter, or loved one in Pennsylvania has been arrested for a crime in state or federal court in Pennsylvania you need legal representation Here at Manchester and Associates we represent people across the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. For a free consultation we can be contacted at 1-800-243-4878.

Posted in: Breath Testing , DUI Blog ,

September 11, 2017

What Should I Do If I Am Asked To Provide A Chemical Test In Pennsylvania?

By Brian Manchester

Pennsylvania law in this area has been changing in the past two years. Most recently the law was changed on July 20, 2017. Whether or not you refuse to submit to a chemical test is ultimately your decision, there are different consequences. Whether or not it is in your best interest to refuse the test depends on the type of test requested and your personal history with previous DUI convictions.

In Pennsylvania, the police can only request two different types of tests when they are attempting to determine your blood alcohol level for criminal purposes. The officer can request either a breath test* or a blood test. The officer can only ask for one of these tests after they believe they have probable cause that you are under the influence and are incapable of driving safely.

*Quick note. The portable breath test device given at the side of the road can be refused with no license or evidence consequences. It is the breath test given at a police station or DUI processing center that if refused has the license and evidentiary consequences and is the breath test we refer to in this blog.

If you refuse to agree to a chemical test, PennDOT can punish you through civil law by suspending your driver’s license. Or more accurately PennDOT can suspend your privilege to drive in Pennsylvania. If you have a Pennsylvania license you will be required to turn that license into PennDOT. If you have an out of state license you will have to submit a form acknowledging your suspension of driving privileges in Pennsylvania. If your state in which your license is issued find out about the suspension that can suspend your license, however this depends completely on each individual state and their laws on how they handle out of state suspensions. When you refuse the office will have to fill out the refusal paperwork and mail this paperwork into PennDOT there is sometimes a delay between the refusal and the filing thus there is sometimes the opportunity of an intervention before the filing.

In addition to the civil license suspension, you will still be charged with a DUI. If you refused a blood test your punishment will be the lowest tier of DUI. If you refused a breath test your punishment will be increased to the highest tier of DUI. The Courts have made this distinction between Breath and Blood samples, stating that there is a distinction between capturing the air that you breath out and using a needle to puncture your skin to remove a blood sample. Thus if you are presented with a breath test do not refuse. If you do you will receive an increased punishment to the maximum level of DUI possible. With a breath test, it is always better to provide the sample as your results may be in a lower level or not above the legal level at all. Breath tests are also scientifically unsound and can be challenged. However, blood tests have many issues as well that can be seized upon by a properly trained lawyer.

When dealing with a Blood test this is where each individual will have to make their choice. If presented with a Blood test if you refuse you remain in the lowest level of DUI, thus this could greatly reduce the criminal penalties that you could be facing. However, you will receive the additional license suspension through civil law with PennDOT. Where this really matters is when an individual is facing a second or greater DUI as the lowest DUI can keep an individual in county jail, while the higher levels will be state prison sentences. Thus, whether or not you refuse a blood test will be your decision based on your own personal history and what you can deal with moving forward with the different punishments.

However, if you refuse the chemical test the results cannot be challenged in Court. In addition, your refusal can and will be used against you by the District Attorney to get a conviction for the DUI offense. The law allows a jury to be instructed that a refusal can be considered as evidence of guilt.

It is extremely important to contact an experienced law firm right away if you or someone you know is facing criminal charges in Pennsylvania. If you, your son, daughter, or loved one in Pennsylvania has been arrested for a crime in state or federal court in Pennsylvania you need legal representation. Here at Manchester and Associates, we represent people across the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. For a strategy session, we can be contacted at 1-800-243-4878.

Posted in: DUI Blog , Refusal Of Chemical Test ,

September 11, 2017

What Should I Do At A Traffic Stop In Pennsylvania?

By Brian Manchester

If you are driving in Pennsylvania at some point you will be pulled over by the police for any number of possible traffic violations, or randomly through a DUI checkpoint. If you are stopped by the police the first thing to do is pull over at the first opportunity you can at a place where it is safe to stop for you and the officer. If you are on a road where pulling over would be dangerous for yourself or the officer when they are standing on the side of the road. Indicate to the officer that you acknowledge that they want you to stop by using your four way flashers and then when it is safe to turn off your four ways and use your signal to pull over.

Once stopped leave your seat belt on. Keep this on until the officer comes to your window. Taking it off early even if you are already stopped could get you cited for not wearing one if the officer sees it off. In addition, it is best to put your four ways and shut off your vehicle (if it is not so cold out that you need the heat) and place the keys on your dash. This indicates to the officer that you are going to comply and not attempt to drive off. Once the officer asks for your license, insurance, and registration now open your glove box and provide it to them. Make sure these items are organized and you know exactly where they are so that they can be retrieved quickly. Do not get these items before the officer comes to your window. If you start reaching around your vehicle all the officer sees from behind you is that you are moving around and might be attempting to hide drugs or conceal a weapon. Just wait until you are asked for these items then the officer will be able to see what you are doing.

Once the stop is complete the officer should tell you that you are free to go or to have a nice day. Once this happens you are free to go if the officer tries to stop you or ask to search your vehicle you have no obligation to comply. The officer can only search your vehicle if they have a search warrant, you consent to the search, you are arrested and the officer performs an inventory search, if the officer has reasonable suspicion that there are drugs in the vehicle, or if the officer has reason to believe that there is something in the vehicle that is a threat to the safety of the public. With this being said an officer cannot hold you there and make you wait for a drug dog to arrive to get the reasonable suspicion needed to search your vehicle.

The Supreme Court ruled in Rodriguez v. US. that police cannot intentionally drag out the process of a traffic stop for the purpose to give them time to perform an additional drug search. “We hold that a police stop exceeding the time needed to handle the matter for which the stop was made violates the Constitution’s shield against unreasonable seizures,” “A seizure justified only by a police-observed traffic violation, therefore, becomes unlawful if it is prolonged beyond the time reasonably required to complete the mission of issuing a ticket for the violation.” If your vehicle is searched you have the right to challenge the reason for the search and if the Court agrees that the search was illegal then the evidence gathered by the illegal search can be thrown out of the case.

It is extremely important to contact an experienced law firm right away if you or someone you know is facing criminal charges in Pennsylvania. If you, your son, daughter, or loved one in Pennsylvania has been arrested for a crime in state or federal court in Pennsylvania you need legal representation. Here at Manchester and Associates, we represent people across the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. For a strategy session, we can be contacted at 1-800-243-4878.

Posted in: DUI Blog , General Information ,

September 11, 2017

What Rights Do I Have When Police Ask For A Blood Test In Pennsylvania?

By Brian Manchester

Individual’s rights during a blood draw by the police have come front and center in the media this past week. As a nurse in Utah was arrested for refusing to provide the police a sample of a patient’s blood because the police lacked probable cause, they had no warrant, and the individual was not even under arrest. In addition, the patient was unconscious and could not consent to a voluntary blood draw. The police claimed they had a right to take the blood because of the implied consent law in Utah. It has been determined that the Nurse did nothing wrong and that the police were attempting to collect a blood sample illegally.

Pennsylvania also has an implied consent law under 75 PACSA 1547. The general is as follows:

Any person who drives, operates or is in actual physical control of the movement of a vehicle in this Commonwealth shall be deemed to have given consent to one or more chemical tests of breath or blood for the purpose of determining the alcoholic content of blood or the presence of a controlled substance if a police officer has reasonable grounds to believe the person to have been driving, operating or in actual physical control of the movement of a vehicle:

  1. in violation of section 1543(b)(1.1) (relating to driving while operating privilege is suspended or revoked), 3802 (relating to driving under influence of alcohol or controlled substance) or 3808(a)(2) (relating to illegally operating a motor vehicle not equipped with ignition interlock);
  2. or (2) which was involved in an accident in which the operator or passenger of any vehicle involved or a pedestrian required treatment at a medical facility or was killed.

Now this law has been changed and modified, and sections have been deemed unconstitutional. Paragraph (2) has been deemed unconstitutional for many years however for some reason the legislature in Harrisburg has not removed this section of the law. In the general provision when it states that the officer has reasonable grounds this has been determined by the Courts to mean Probable Cause. Thus the officer cannot just come into your hospital room and take our blood; they need to have Probable Cause to ask for the blood sample. In addition this law has been questioned lately in whether or not it is constitutional. As the Courts have looked down on forced blood draws, including those of unconscious individuals; the Pennsylvania Supreme Court has stated that an individual has the right to refused and they have to have the ability to exercise that right. If they are unconscious they no longer have the ability to refuse. If the Police want a blood sample they can always request a warrant or request a warrant at a later date for individuals that are undergoing treatment when the hospital took a blood sample for medical purposes.

Whether or not this statute is Constitutional under the 4th Amendment and/or Pennsylvania’s Constitution Article 1 Section 8 that offers more protections then the Federal Constitution is a question that the Pennsylvania Supreme Court has not yet answered. As cases continue to be submitted to the Court we will have to wait and see if Pennsylvania’s Implied Consent Statute will be upheld or not. For now it is the law.

It is extremely important to contact an experienced law firm right away if you or someone you know is facing criminal charges in Pennsylvania. If you, your son, daughter, or loved one in Pennsylvania has been arrested for a crime in state or federal court in Pennsylvania you need legal representation. Here at Manchester and Associates, we represent people across the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. For a strategy session, we can be contacted at 1-800-243-4878.

Posted in: DUI Blog , Implied Consent ,

September 7, 2017

Can I Lose My Pilot’s License If I Am Charged With DUI In Pennsylvania?

By Brian Manchester

The short answer YES.

If you are pulled over for suspicion of Driving Under the Influence, you must report that to the FAA even if you are late found to be innocent. Being stopped and asked for a breath or blood sample is enough to make you report the incident. There are two separate forms that will have to be completed in which you must inform the FAA of the incident. Typically the first form is under regulation 61.15 which states that any conviction of an alcohol or drug related offense must be reported within 60 days after the motor vehicle action. The other typically later form to report this on is the FAA medical application.

Once it is reported that FAA will request documents about the situation, including but not limited to the police report, a personal statement about the incident from yourself, and court records about the case. You will be required to have a drug and alcohol evaluation and complete any recommended treatment. You will also be required to provide your driving records to be evaluated.

The FAA will keep track of how many offenses you accumulate throughout your lifetime. If you receive your second offense more evaluations could be required. If you receive a third offense in your life time your medical license will not be granted until a comprehensive medical evaluation is completed to deal with your possible addiction issues, by psychological and psychiatric trained specialist.

Obviously, the best way to avoid all of this is not to drink and drive. However, if you are charged with a DUI it is imperative to put up the best defense possible as it could cost you your piolets license in addition to the driving license.

It is extremely important to contact an experienced law firm right away if you or someone you know is facing criminal charges in Pennsylvania. If you, your son, daughter, or loved one in Pennsylvania has been arrested for a crime in state or federal court in Pennsylvania you need legal representation. Here at Manchester and Associates, we represent people across the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. For a free consultation, we can be contacted at 1-800-243-4878.

Posted in: DUI Blog , Pilot License Issues ,

August 28, 2017

Brian Manchester Receives Advanced Level Training on Ultraviolet Light Issues During Drug Recognition Expert Evaluations

By Brian Manchester

Brian Manchester of Bellefonte, Pennsylvania recently received advanced level training, from the American Association of Premier DUI Attorneys, on Ultraviolet (UV) Light issues that occur during Drug Recognition Expert (DRE) evaluations. Brian received training on the new UV Light protocol for DRE evaluations.
Read more on this

Posted in: DUI Blog , Training ,

August 9, 2017

Why Was I Charged With A DUI In Pennsylvania When I Was Not Operating My Vehicle?

By Brian Manchester

Have you or someone you know been arrested for Driving under the influence in Pennsylvania? When the charge of Driving under the Influence is charged this can have major impacts on you and your family’s lives and wellbeing. You must protect yourself by talking to an experienced law firm because the impact of a charge like this can affect you for the rest of your life. You can be charged in Pennsylvania for a DUI even if you have not moved your vehicle.

The Pennsylvania Driving Under the Influence law is as follows for General Impairment

(a) General impairment.–(1) An individual may not drive, operate or be in actual physical control of the movement of a vehicle after imbibing a sufficient amount of alcohol such that the individual is rendered incapable of safely driving, operating or being in actual physical control of the movement of the vehicle

75 Pa. Stat. and Cons. Stat. Ann. § 3802

The problem with this statue that allows for police officers to charge you for DUI is the part that states actual physical control of the movement of a vehicle. What the Courts have determined this to mean is an individual was either in or around their vehicle with their keys allowing them to operate the vehicle. What this does is it leaves individuals will little choice when they are told to leave an establishment. As an example the winters here in Pennsylvania can at times be very harsh. If you are leaving an establishment and feel that you are unable to drive home. You can be charged with a DUI for getting into your vehicle to sleep it off; even if you do not move your vehicle, the police can and will charge you with driving under the influence.

There is some case law when a Judge has rejected this notion that a DUI should be used in the situation that I just described. The reasoning from the Judge was that the individual was just trying to stay warm and charge their phone. They did not leave the parking space that they originally had parked in and were doing the right things as society is concerned by sleeping it off rather than attempting to drive home. However this is not the decision that all Judges reach; others have found the opposite way condemning individuals for this, thus affirming the Driving Under the Influence charge.

Recently the Michigan Supreme Court has ruled that prosecutors can bring charges against a man accused of driving while intoxicated on his own private driveway. This is very concerning as this Court is allowing for DUI offenses on private lands, including one’s own driveway. Does this mean that if you are working on your vehicle you cannot have a beer, or your riding lawnmower for that matter. I would not risk it at this point. In Pennsylvania you can be charged with Driving Under the Influence if you are on a highway or traffic way. In basic terms a road or area in which people operate their vehicles which is open to the public. The Michigan Supreme Court decided that your driveway is open to the public. Pennsylvania has not gone this far yet. However Pennsylvania has determined that parking garages and parking lots are traffic ways even if on private land. There could be a possible argument if these lots are gated thus not open to the public. Because of all the nuances it is important to hire a firm with experience in all kinds of Driving Under the Influence situations.

It is extremely important to contact an experienced law firm right away if you or someone you know is facing criminal charges in Pennsylvania. If you, your son, daughter, or loved one in Pennsylvania has been arrested for a crime in state or federal court in Pennsylvania you need legal representation Here at Manchester and Associates we represent people across the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. For a free consultation we can be contacted at 1-800-243-4878.

Posted in: DUI Blog ,