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.
Pennsylvania State Senator Pat Browne is seeking ARD for his third set of DUI charges. These charges arose from a motorcycle accident in the Lehigh Valley earlier this year in which Browne was injured, and allegedly had a BAC between .08 and .10. ARD stands for "Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition." Those who successfully complete the ARD program can have their charges dismissed and expunged, while also receiving a shorter driver's license suspension and avoiding mandatory jail time. ARD is usually available to first time offenders who are charged with relatively low-level offenses like DUI, possession of marijuana or drug paraphernalia.
In Pennsylvania, DUI charges can be filed against sober young people, as a teen recently found out the hard way in Northampton County. Over Labor Day weekend this year, a 19 year old male was stopped at a DUI checkpoint. His SUV was packed with nine other students, whom he was ferrying back to DeSales University after the group had attended a party at nearby Lehigh University. The over-packed car was a Motor Vehicle Code violation in and of itself, made immeasurably worse by the fact that the designated driver had consumed a modest amount of alcohol. According to police, the designated driver's BAC was a mere .02. Although this suggests he had only one drink or had quit drinking hours ago, it is still enough to trigger a DUI in Pennsylvania if the driver is less than 21 years of age.
It is no secret that Penn State is a world class party school. Like a powerful gravitational force, this reputation attracts ever more students who like to party, perpetuating Happy Valley's status as the number one party destination in Pennsylvania for the under 25 set. But even Penn State has three sober weekends during the school year, with very few DUIs or other alcohol-related charges like underage drinking, public drunkenness, disorderly conduct or criminal mischief. These quiet weekends include the weekends before Fall and Spring finals as well as THON weekend. Some students, especially seniors, do not have any finals, so finals weekend is for celebrating, while very few students get rowdy on THON weekend.
I am a hardcore Penn State football fan, and it appears that only we ultras seem to care enough about position battles, player evaluations and the new coaching staff's schemes to venture into Beaver Stadium to actually watch the game. For the casual fans and those not even into football, the Blue and White Game has become a major springtime holiday in Central Pennsylvania. It celebrates the return of warm weather by "tailgating," which can mean anything from elaborate outdoor feasts to standing in the parking lot drinking cheap beer.
Even though there is no chance that Penn State can lose, not everyone will leave the Beaver Stadium parking lots happy. The nicer the weather, the greater the number of alcohol-related summary offense citations like underage drinking, public drunkenness, disorderly conduct and criminal mischief, not to mention far more serious misdemeanor charges like DUI, simple assault and resisting arrest. Wherever there is a large concentration of people drinking, there will be a certain percentage of people who fail to drink responsibly.
But not everyone charged with an alcohol-related offense was necessarily out of control or obnoxious. For Penn State, State College and Pennsylvania State Police, handing out underage drinking citations around Beaver Stadium is like shooting fish in a barrel, and a lot of these young people do not even get a chance to finish their first drink before being hassled by the Man. If you look young, and are holding a beer or even a red plastic cup, the police are going to check your ID. Obviously, there are so many underage drinkers at a Penn State game that only a tiny fraction of young people will be cited, but small percentage of a very large number is still a lot of people.
I understand that the lure of partying is far stronger for most people than an inter-squad scrimmage game with interest only to football nerds like me, but if you are not going into the game, you really should not drink around Beaver Stadium if you are under 21. Normally, when people commit a crime, they at least try not to get caught. Drinking in a public place in broad daylight in an area patrolled by hundreds of cops simply invites trouble.
If you are charged with underage drinking or any other alcohol-related offense, it is important to talk to a local criminal defense lawyer, who knows the cops, judges and the local rules of criminal procedure. Even if you are factually guilty, an attorney can often find ways to mitigate your damages, such as assuring that you escape without a criminal conviction on your record.
Matt McClenahen is a Penn State alumnus and State College criminal defense lawyer, whose office is a five minute walk from campus. http://www.mattmlaw.com/Criminal-Defense-Overview/Alcohol-Offenses-DUI.shtml
A Pennsylvania school bus driver has been charged with DUI, recklessly endangering another person, careless driving and reckless driving, after police allege she operated her school bus while under the influence of alcohol. Jennifer Watson of Columbia County is accused of being so disoriented on March 20, 2014, that she picked up students after school, and then eventually turned around and started driving her morning bus route to school. Students on the bus reported that Ms. Watson was both swearing and swerving. When met by police back at the school, Ms. Watson denied drinking, but admitted to eating rum soaked raisins to deal with headaches.
Amid great controversy, State College bars were paid by the borough and Penn State to close on State Patty's Day for the second year in a row, harming the local economy in order to take the moral high ground. Of course, State Patty's Day always falls on a Saturday, which is the most socially appropriate day of the week to drink, and that is why it the biggest bar day of the week, even outside of college football season. By contrast, St. Patrick's Day can fall on any day of the week, and this year it falls on Monday, which is probably the least socially appropriate day to drink, being the start of a work week and all.
Collateral consequences for criminal charges have taken on more long-lasting and devastating forms in the digital age. One such collateral consequence is that mug shots once available only to law enforcement are now posted on the Internet for the whole world to see.
State Patty's Day is one of Penn State's newest traditions, and also by far the most controversial. Few people were ever truly offended by the time-honored and comical Mifflin Streak, but many State College residents have expressed annoyance over the unabashed bacchanalian festival created in 2007, when Old Main deliberately scheduled spring break when students would not be in town for St. Patrick's Day. Penn State's plan backfired when the students created the alternative holiday known as "State Patty's Day," which turned out to involve far more irresponsible drinking than the original Irish drinking holiday ever did in State College.
A Pennsylvania teen is accused of receiving stolen property in a very unique manner. Hanover Police allege that 18 year old Christopher Scheller managed to conceal four stolen bracelets, 11 stolen rings, a metal smoking device and synthetic marijuana in his rectum, which may every well defy everything physicians had known about human anatomy and physicists had known about the space time continuum.