New Year’s Eve DUI Checkpoints in Bucks and Montgomery Counties

As part of a multi-million dollar effort to crackdown on DUIs, law enforcement officials in Bucks and Montgomery County will be increasing DUI monitoring efforts tonight into tomorrow morning.

The target locations are Routes 611 and 309 from 10:00 PM tonight to 3:00 AM Friday morning. As detailed by a report in the Bucks County Courier Times, officers from the townships of Bensalem, Middletown, New DUI CheckpointBritain, Warrington and Warwick, and the Penndel Borough, will be out on roving patrols targeting drunk drivers. In Montgomery County, officers in Horsham and Upper Moreland will be patrolling 611 up to at least the Pennsylvania Turnpike.

What does this entail: In addition to regular traffic patrol, there is the potential for increased sobriety checkpoints and roving patrols.

Previous DUI crackdown efforts in Bucks and Montgomery County have resulted in numerous arrests. For instance, on Thanksgiving Eve, 10 drivers were arrested over a five-hour period for suspicion of DUI at a Bucks County DUI Checkpoint. On July 10, 2015, 15 people were arrested at a Montgomery County Checkpoint.

New Years Eve is a festive time to celebrate with family and friends. However, it is important to be smart and safe. Happy New Years from Howland Hess O’Connell!

Legal Disclaimer: The contents of this website are intended solely for informational purposes. They neither constitute nor imply an official legal opinion on behalf of Howland, Hess, Guinan, Torpey, Cassidy and O’Connell nor do they establish an attorney-client relationship of any kind. Howland Hess O’Connell encourages all readers to seek and consult professional counsel before acting upon the information contained on this site.

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License Suspensions: Part One of a Three Part Series

Did you ever stop and think how important your driver’s license is to you? Did you ever think about how your job, family and everyday living would be affected if your license was suspended? Most, if not all, of us are absolutely dependent on our ability to drive.

There are numerous reasons why a license might be suspended. Some are related to specific driving offenses, while others may be due to a violation of specific Pennsylvania laws. Some of the most common reasons include DUI convictions, excessive moving violations, driving without insurance or without a license, and even failure to stop for a bus.

However, there are numerous other reasons a person’s license might be suspended, including how they treat receipt of a ticket from the court. Suspensions can occur either through non-attentiveness after receipt of a ticket, or, to the contrary, being ultra-attentive and responsive upon receipt of the ticket. What do we mean? As part of a three part series, stay tuned for next week’s blog detailing the danger of non-attentiveness after receipt of a ticket.

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NOTICE: If you’re license has been suspended or you’re facing the potential of a license suspension, the attorneys at Howland Hess O’Connell are available today to help you. Michael Cassidy is very experienced with the Motor Vehicle Code, Penndot’s schedule of penalties, and, most importantly the police officers and judicial system that handle these citations. Competent legal advice can save money (in fines, costs, and higher insurance premiums), and quite frequently, the loss of your driver’s license.

Legal Disclaimer: The contents of this website are intended solely for informational purposes. They neither constitute nor imply an official legal opinion on behalf of Howland, Hess, Guinan, Torpey, Cassidy and O’Connell nor do they establish an attorney-client relationship of any kind. Howland Hess O’Connell encourages all readers to seek and consult professional counsel before acting upon the information contained on this site.

 

Understanding the Security Deposit in Pennsylvania

Whether you’re a landlord or tenant, security deposit issues often arise when the residential arrangement comes to an end. If there is an issue, it usually goes as follows: the landlord is claiming deductions from the deposit while the tenant believes he or she is entitled to full reimbursement.

The purpose of the security deposit is simple: it covers the landlord should he or she have to make repairs to damages beyond normal wear-and-tear and also protects the landlord if a tenant vacates without paying the last month’s rent. The law is entirely clear that tenants are not responsible for normal wear-and-tear, but not so clear on what exactly the phrase “normal wear-and-tear” entails. Generally, normal wear-and-tear is understood as unavoidable issues not caused by the tenant, such as repainting faded paint or cleaning carpets.

Not surprisingly, the biggest issues concerning security deposits is All about the moneydetermining whether the tenant is entitled to a return of the deposit, and if so, for how much. The Pennsylvania Landlord-Tenant Act of 1951 is the governing piece of legislation when such matters arise. Here are a few of the key provisions:

  1. Tenant’s New Address: If a tenant is leaving the residence, the Landlord Tenant Act requires he or she provide their new address to the landlord in writing. This should be done at or before the time the tenant leaves. If a tenant fails to provide this written notice, he or she can still sue, but the Landlord Tenant Act is likely no longer applicable because the tenant failed to avail himself or herself of its protection.
  2. 30 Day Limit: Not only must the landlord return a tenant’s unused security deposit within 30 days, he or she must provide a written accounting of any deductions from the security deposit for which the landlord deems the tenant responsible. If a landlord fails to do so, they lose the right to retain any portion of the tenant’s security deposit and forfeit the ability to sue the tenant for damages to the premises.
  3. Double-Liability: Should a landlord not provide the written accounting of deductions and make a return of the remaining unused security deposit within 30 days, the tenant can bring a lawsuit seeking double the difference between the security deposit and the amount of damage the tenant actually caused.
  4. These Rights are Absolute: The Landlord-Tenant Act is clear: any attempted waiver of this section by a tenant by contract or otherwise shall be void and unenforceable. Therefore, regardless of any provision which might be read to waive the protections provided to tenants under the Landlord-Tenant Act, if a tenant has provided his or her new address in writing, that tenant is eligible for protection.

If you’re a landlord or tenant facing an issue regarding the return of a security deposit, or a landlord-tenant issue generally, the attorneys at Howland Hess O’Connell are available to assist you in handling your matter.

Legal Disclaimer: The contents of this website are intended solely for informational purposes. They neither constitute nor imply an official legal opinion on behalf of Howland, Hess, Guinan, Torpey, Cassidy and O’Connell nor do they establish an attorney-client relationship of any kind. Howland, Hess and O’Connell encourages all readers to seek and consult professional counsel before acting upon the information contained on this site.

What You Should Know if Charged with a DUI/DWI

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Getting arrested and charged with a DUI is an incredibly stressful experience, but it happens. In fact, approximately 1.5 million people are arrested annually for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. That means that one out of every 121 licensed drivers is arrested each year for drunk or impaired driving. So while this behavior is certainly not condoned or encouraged, the facts are that you or someone you know may be facing a charge of a DUI/DWI. Here are some important things you need to be aware of as you face the reality of a DUI/DWI charge:

    1. Charges for DUI or DWI are not limited to Operating Cars: If you think the State can’t convict you because, although drunk or high, you weren’t driving a car, think again. Cars, trucks, motorcycles, golf carts, dirt bikes on the road, and scooters are all considered vehicles. Even a bicycle, when being operated on a public road, is considered a vehicle for DUI purposes
    2. DUIs and DWIs Aren’t Limited to Alcohol and Illegal Drugs: If you are operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol or illegal drugs to the point of impairment, you can be arrested for DUI/DWI. Regarding drugs specifically, it’s not just illegal drugs like cocaine or marijuana that can land you behind bars. A person can be arrested and charged for DUI for the presence of prescription or over-the-counter drugs in their system if such drugs rendered them incapable of safely operating a vehicle.
    3. There’s a Chance You Will Lose Your License: Your driver’s license may be suspended not only for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, but also for refusing to submit to a blood alcohol concentration test. If your license has been suspended in Pennsylvania, contact Michael Cassidy or Dennis Meakim at Howland, Hess, O’Connell to find out what you’ll need to do to get that license reinstated.
    4. Be Open to Making a Deal with the Prosecutor: If you’ve been charged with a DUI, chances are you’ll be approached by a prosecutor to make a deal. While you and your attorney must approach this interaction carefully and not give away too much leverage, being open to a compromise may sometimes be your best bet.
    5. Your Social Media Profiles are Likely Fair Game: In preparation for trial, the prosecution is likely to scour your online presence to find evidence which might point to your use of alcohol or drugs, especially on the night in question. While no attorney can or should advise a client to delete photos or any other evidence, it is in your best interest not to post publically about your arrest or the events leading up to it.
    6. Owning Your Guilt Can be in Your Best Interest: If you’re guilty and don’t have any viable legal defenses, you should consider cooperating with the prosecution. By “playing ball”  and taking affirmative steps to indicate you are serious about ensuring you’re never in this situation again (like attending alcoholics anonymous, for example), your sentence may be reduced considerably. A defense attorney familiar with the position of the prosecutor and judge assigned to your case is in the best position to guide you through that decision.

If you’re facing a charge for DUI or DWI, the attorneys at Howland Hess O’Connell are prepared to guide you through the murky waters which often accompany such a charge. both Michael Cassidy and Dennis Meakim are recognized in Pennsylvania and New Jersey for their skill in handling criminal law matters, including DUI.

Legal Disclaimer: The contents of this website are intended solely for informational purposes. They neither constitute nor imply an official legal opinion on behalf of Howland, Hess, Guinan, Torpey, Cassidy and O’Connell nor do they establish an attorney-client relationship of any kind. Howland, Hess and O’Connell encourages all readers to seek and consult professional counsel before acting upon the information contained on this site.