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DUI and Underage Drinking Charges against Amish Teens

DUI charges are not limited to those who drive motor vehicles on public roads. In fact, a Pennsylvania Amish teen recently learned the hard that you can get a DUI operating ANY vehicle on a public roadway, including a horse-drawn buggy. Pennsylvania State Police recently filed charges of DUI and underage drinking against an 18 year old Amish man in Indiana County. The police pulled over the buggy when they saw two young men riding on the roof. All four buggy passengers were under 21 and were charged with underage drinking.

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With shows like "Amish Mafia" and the documentary "Devil's Playground," most "English" people are now aware of Rumspringa, a period when Amish youth are given freedom to enjoy temptations of the secular world before deciding whether or not to join the church. Thus, I doubt that anyone is really shocked to hear that Amish youth drink just like their English age-contemporaries. However, a lot of people might be surprised to learn that Pennsylvania DUI laws apply to any vehicle on a public road. You can even get a DUI on a bicycle. Most of my clients who have had bike DUIs had absolutely no clue that they could get a DUI on a bike, and likewise, I suspect that the unfortunate buggy driver may not have been aware that he could get a DUI.

Most first-time DUI offenders are eligible for a program called ARD, which stands for Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition. Successful completion of the program can lead to dismissal and expungement of the charges, but most ARD-DUI defendants lose their driver's license for a period of time. Yet the unfortunate Amish teen driver will be able to continue to drive his buggy. One does not need a driver's license to operate a horse and buggy on a public road any more than one needs a license to ride a bike.


Matt McClenahen is a criminal defense attorney in State College, Pennsylvania, with extensive experience in DUI cases. http://www.mattmlaw.com/Criminal-Defense-Overview/DUI-Defense.shtml Er kummt vun Mifflin County und kann a Bissel Pennsilfanisch Deitsch schwetze.

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