MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Pennsylvania. Under Pennsylvania’s prior implied consent law, drivers who had been arrested for drunk driving could either choose to submit to required testing, or face immediate—and automatic—legal consequences. Yet, all this has changed as a result of an important recent Supreme Court ruling. The Supreme Court’s recent decision found that police need a warrant before they can draw blood from a suspect. This could have an impact on cases yet to go to trial, and the way that future DUI arrests and charges are handled by police in Pennsylvania.
How will the Supreme Court’s ruling affect DUI cases in Pennsylvania? According to the Morning Call, law enforcement have been provided with new instructions about what warnings they can give to drivers who have been arrested on the suspicion of drunk driving. Formerly, officers could warn drivers that refusing to submit to a blood test could result in a maximum penalty of up to 5 years in jail. Now, the new warnings won’t include references to any penalties for refusal.
Yet, it is important to note, that while the Supreme Court’s decision impacts criminal penalties, it does not impact civil penalties. You can still lose your license for up to one year for refusing to submit to a blood test. And, law enforcement assert that the Supreme Court ruling will not change Pennsylvania’s tough enforcement of DUI law.
The Supreme Court ruling will affect some Pennsylvania counties more than others. Some counties only use blood tests, while others use breath tests, which are still permitted under the Supreme Court ruling. According to some legal experts, DUI offenders facing jail time, or subsequent offenders, may benefit most from the new law. Given Pennsylvania’s strict penalties, having blood results thrown out could result in lower-tier penalties, especially if the blood test is the only proof that a person’s blood alcohol level was excessive. In fact, county district attorneys have openly admitted that some individuals with DUI charges may serve less time as a result of the ruling. Of course, every case is unique. McMahon, McMahon, & Lentz in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania are dui lawyers who can review your case to determine whether the Supreme Court ruling could have an impact on it. According to the Huffington Post, the Supreme Court based its ruling on the fact that blood testing violates the Fourth Amendment which prohibits individuals from being subjected to unreasonable searches and seizures. The court found that blood tests were particularly invasive, while it found breath tests to be less so. For this reason, officers can still ask drivers to submit to breath tests without a warrant.
If you are facing DUI charges in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, it is wise to speak to a DUI lawyer to protect your rights. In some cases a DUI lawyer can get your charges either reduced or dropped. Visit http://www.mcmahon4law.com/dui/ to learn more and to protect your rights