Given that riding season is finally in bloom, I want to touch on the topic of DWI/DUI as many riders will end up at destinations where alcohol is being served. I feel that it is my duty to inform all of you that the penalties for DUI/DWI are getting harsher and more expensive every year.
Though I have written on this topic in the past, it again merits discussion given the .08 limit in most every state. For many of us, this means that two beers or drinks in rapid succession will put us very close to the limit, especially if not ingested with food.
While the penalties for a .08 to a .10 may not be terrible in some states, especially if it’s your first offense, two beers often leads to three or four and that’s when we start getting into trouble.
The penalties for driving under the influence vary widely from state to state however, in NJ, in most cases, a first offense will trigger a minimum seven (7) month license suspension and fines upwards of $1,000 plus attorneys fees.
Adding insult to injury, if you are a PA resident charged with DWI while riding a motorcycle in New Jersey, you will not have the opportunity, even if it is your first offense, to utilize the ARD program usually offered to first offenders in PA and in most cases will have your license suspended for one (1) full year in PA.
Normally first offenders in Pennsylvania, not involved in a motorcycle accident, will be eligible for the ARD program which requires drug and alcohol evaluation and fines but rarely a license suspension.
However, this program is only available one (1) time, after that, in Pennsylvania if you are convicted of DUI within the next ten (10) years, you will do a minimum of five (5) days in prison and receive an automatic twelve (12) month license suspension along with extensive fines and penalties.
If your blood alcohol is higher than .10 and you are charged with a second offense within a ten (10) year period in Pennsylvania, the mandatory jail term grows to thirty (30) days, and another one year license suspension.
Similarly in New Jersey, Delaware and Maryland, for each subsequent offense, the fines, potential jail time and the license suspensions grow harsher with each offense.
Now I know that every one of you reading this column understands that if you are convicted of DWI/DUI, there are penalties. However, experience has taught me that most of the public doesn’t understand how severe the penalties and license suspensions can be.
Furthermore, unlike most other criminal offenses, there is very little room to plea bargain on a DUI/DWI, as most states have mandatory fines, jail terms and license suspensions. As a result, many clients are very upset when they learn that they may lose their license for up to a year, even for a first offense.
Also, be aware of the greater risk of motorcycle accident injury when riding after drinking.
Given that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, please be careful and if you know you may be drinking, a designated driver is always a great idea!!!
Call Pennsylvania motorcycle accident lawyer Lee Gaber for additional information on this topic. I can always be reached at 888-292-5352 (888-CYCLE-LAW).