The Philadelphia DUI Law Blog

February 2011 Archives

Christian Sweeney Gets Fourth DUI Arrest After McDonald's Car Crash

Ridley Township resident Christian M. Sweeney received his fourth DUI arrest this week after his Oldsmobile struck a woman’s vehicle at a McDonald’s drive-thru lane. A McDonald’s employee had taken down the tag number of Sweeney’s car after he drove off from the parking lot. Police later found the drunken driver sitting his car outside of his house.

Authorities found an empty Hydrocodone bottle in Sweeney’s car and a bottle of vodka inside the pocket of his pants, according to the Delaware County Daily Times. The officers also noticed Sweeney’s eyes were glassy, his speech was slurred, and his breath smelled of alcohol. He admitted to police that he had been drinking and failed several field sobriety tests.

Study On Ignition Interlocks Show Fewer Re-arrests For DUI

A new study by researchers at the Community Guide branch of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) showed that ignition interlocks helped people convicted of DUI avoid getting arrested again. The study also revealed that the re-arrest rates for drunken driving fell 67 percent after the installation of an interlock device in comparison to drivers who only had their license suspended.

Ignition interlocks are often used to prevent drivers with previous convictions from impaired driving in Pennsylvania, according to Reuters. The devices are often placed on the dashboard of a car and have a tube for the driver to blow into, which measures the amount of alcohol in their breath. If the driver has a blood-alcohol content (BAC) level above 0.08 percent, the car won't start.

Matthew Lynch Appeals DUI Conviction And Prison Sentence

Matthew C. Lynch, a Lower Gwynedd resident, was charged with vehicular homicide while driving under the influence of alcohol after a fatal car crash in Upper Gwynedd killed 20-year-old Philadelphia local Isaiah Washington. Lynch, 24, was eventually convicted and sentenced to a three to six year prison term in August 2010, but he later appealed his conviction and sentence to the state court.

Montgomery County Judge Thomas C. Branca wrote an opinion in the DUI case, urging the Pennsylvania Superior Court to uphold the defendant's conviction. According to The Times Herald, Judge Branca asserted there was "more than sufficient evidence" to prove that Lynch's intoxication had contributed to the car accident in January 2009 and Washington's death.

Karen Patton Pleads Not Guilty To DUI Charges And Faces Trial

Karen T. Patton from North Wales pleaded not guilty in Montgomery County to charges relating to the head-on, drunk driving car accident that critically injured a Philadelphia man. The Times Herald reported that Patton, 43, also waived her arraignment, which means she will not have to go before a judge for a formal reading of the charges brought against her.

Instead, she will be scheduled for trial.

Drunken Drivers In Northeast Philadelphia Put Family's Safety At Risk

Northeast Philadelphia resident Leigh Jones said she had “heard a big crash, a big boom” when a drunken driver crashed into the jersey wall right outside her home in Torresdale. The woman found behind the wheel was later charged with a DUI after the accident, but Jones said this was not the first time her family has faced this kind of incident.

Intoxicated drivers remain constant threat for the Jones’ family, especially when many drive that strech of Torresdale, but fail to make a left or a right turn. Jones and her husband D.J. have dealt with two other incidents where drunken drivers have actually plowed through their property in the past, reported My Fox Philly.

PA State House Committee Expands Happy Hour Regulations

ABC 27 News reported a Pennsylvania state House committee recently and unanimously approved legislation known as the so-called “Happy Hour Bill,” which provides more flexibility for restaurants and bars to arrange their happy hours.

Previously, businesses like those in Philadelphia were allowed two hours of happy hour each day. However, under the new bill, businesses may now be able to set happy hours however they want, as long as they stick to the 14 hours allotted to them per week.

State Rep. Phyllis Mundy Reintroduces House Bill 227

Pennsylvania State Rep. Phyllis Mundy from Kingston reintroduced House Bill 227, which aims to change the law concerning hit and run accidents that are fatal or cause severe injury. According to the Standard Speaker, Mundy pointed out a legal loophole that exists providing drunken drivers with a reason to leave the scene of a crash if they killed another person.

A drunken driver in Philadelphia, for instance, can face a minimum of three years in jail if he or she stays at the scene of the crash and is taken into custody under current state law. But the penalty is only one year in prison for drivers who take off after an accident and are arrested when the alcohol is gone from their system.

Police Report on DUI Arrests In Upper Moreland

According to the Montgomery News, authorities arrested several DUI suspects in Upper Moreland over the weekend for charges that involved both drunk and drugged driving.

Police reported Philadelphia local Romel Watson, 25, was pulled over for failing to go on a green light when officers noticed the pungent smell of alcohol and marijuana in his vehicle. A blood sample revealed Watson's blood alcohol content level was higher than the legal limit of 0.08 percent at the time he was stopped. Cops found that there was also marijuana in his system and charged Watson with DUI.

PA Federal Funds Used To Target Drunk Drivers During Super Bowl

The Philadelphia Business Journal reported that the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation provided $4.2 million in federal funds this year in an effort to aid police and help keep impaired drivers off of the road.

Part of the money was used this past weekend as state police and local police departments kept an eye out for drunken drivers during the Super Bowl. The funds paid for nearly 900 sobriety checkpoints throughout the state, and police departments in Philadelphia, Bucks, Chester, Montgomery, and Delaware were given $618,000.

Information on Ignition Interlock in Pennsylvania

No doubt you have head of Pennsylvania's law requiring some convicted of DUI charges to have an ignition interlock device attached to their car. You may also know that the ignition interlock is a device that is installed on vehicles to prevent drivers under the influence of alcohol from operating the vehicle. But do you know the exact requirements set up by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT)? Here are a few requirements and exemptions you may not be aware of.

According to the PennDOT website, under Pennsylvania law any driver convicted of a second or subsequent DUI must have an approved ignition interlock system placed into every motor vehicle they own, operate, or lease for one year. After that time, the driver can then again apply for an unrestricted driver's license.

Actress Jaime Pressly Arrested For Driving Drunk

Jaime Pressly, who co-stars in the comedy television show "My Name is Earl," was recently arrested in Southern California for allegedly driving drunk. Santa Monica police initially stopped Pressly for a traffic violation but suspected the actress of being inebriated, according to 6ABC Action News.

Deputy City Attorney Melanie Skehar said Pressly had blood alcohol content (BAC) level of around 0.20 percent, which is significantly more than legal limit of 0.08 percent. Prosecutors charged the actress with driving under the influence as a misdemeanor offense, but the penalties she may face for the DUI charge remains unclear. Jamie Pressly was eventually released from police custody after she posted a $15,000 bail.

Jusquivida Jackson-Smith Arrested For Driving Drunk And High

Police arrested Jusquivida L. Jackson-Smith, 24, after a fatal car accident killed two backseat passengers and accused her of driving while under the influence of alcohol and marijuana. Authorities charged Jackson-Smith with two counts of vehicular homicide, homicide by vehicle while driving under the influence of intoxicants, and other related offenses.

Patrolman Eric K. Houseknecht claims Jackson-Smith was inebriated while speeding down Interstate 180 when her Crown Victoria ran into a guardrail and fell down a 75-foot embankment, reported the Williamsport-Sun Gazette. The crash led to the deaths of 23-year-old Philadelphia local Davette Harley and 21-year-old Troy Riley, both of whom sat in the back of Jackson-Smith's vehicle at the time of the accident.