What are the Consequences of a DUI in Pennsylvania?

With Halloween right around the corner, you might be planning your costume for a big Halloween bash or picking out the bars you are going to visit with friends. Have you planned a safe way home at the end of the night? The last thing you need is a DUI on your record.

In Pennsylvania, the consequences of your DUI are determined by your blood alcohol content (BAC) and previous offenses. However, your age, license type and whether you caused injuries or damages to another person can affect the penalties too. Generally, there are three tiers of DUI in Pennsylvania:

Tier 1: Your BAC is between 0.08 and 0.099 percent

  • For first time DUI offenses, you’ll likely face a small fine and be required to take an alcohol safety course.
  • If you have had one or more DUIs, then you’ll receive an automatic 12-month license suspension.

Tier 2: Your BAC is between 0.1 and 0.159 percent

  • If your BAC is between 0.1 and 0.159, then you will receive an automatic 12-month license suspension even if it is your first offense. If you have had three or more DUI offenses, then it will be 18 months.

Tier 3: Your BAC is 0.16 percent or higher

  • You will receive an automatic 12-month suspension for your first offense and an 18-month suspension for additional offenses.

The more DUI offenses you have had in the past, the greater the consequences. For example, if you are charged with a DUI and have had one prior DUI charge, then you will be required to install an ignition lock in your vehicle for one year after your license suspension expires. An ignition interlock is a device that keeps your car from starting if you do not pass a breathalyzer test first. You will have to pass a breathalyzer every time you want to drive your car. In addition, the likelihood of prison is greater once you have accrued more than one DUI.

Minors, school bus drivers, truck drivers and drivers who caused injuries or damages to another person could be subject to greater penalties even if their BAC is in the first tier. Driving under the influence of drugs or refusing breath and chemical testing could subject you to the greatest penalties.

If you have been charged with a DUI, you should contact a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. The DUI attorneys at Fiore & Barber, LLC represent clients in Montgomery County, Bucks County, Lehigh County and the surrounding areas. We could help you discuss your legal options. Call us today at (215) 256-0205 or contact us online.

What to Do if You’re Charged with a DUI on Labor Day Weekend

Labor Day Weekend is a weekend full of special events with family, friends and celebrations to commemorate the end of summer. However, like other holiday weekends during the year, many people will be drinking alcoholic beverages and putting themselves and others at risk while driving. Law enforcement will be on high alert during this three-day weekend in order to pull over suspected drunk drivers. If you are arrested and charged with a DUI on Labor Day Weekend, it’s crucial that you know what your next legal steps should be.

I’ve Been Charged with a DUI in Pennsylvania, What Do I Do Next?

First, it’s important that you immediately get in touch with a Pennsylvania criminal defense attorney who can guide you through the DUI charge and arrest process. You and your attorney will then go over the various factors associated with your specific arrest, such as if a field sobriety test was conducted, what your blood alcohol concentration was, and other important factors. Understand that Pennsylvania has an implied consent law, so if you refuse to take a chemical test you can be subject to fines and a license suspension.

Next, you should understand the different penalties you will be facing if you are charged with a DUI in Pennsylvania. If this is your first offense, you are likely to face a $300 fine. In addition, you could also be required to install an ignition interlock device (IID) on your vehicle if you refuse to take a chemical test. If it is your second or third offense, the severity of your penalties will increase. You could be facing anywhere from six months to two years in jail, $300 to $5,000 in fines, a year-long license suspension, and you could be required to use an IID while your license is restricted.

In order to avoid these harsh penalties, it is wise to take preventative measures before going out and drinking on Labor Day Weekend. Consider taking a ridesharing service, finding a designated sober driver, or host a party at your home instead.

If you have been charged and/or arrested for a DUI on Labor Day Weekend, you should contact our Pennsylvania criminal defense attorneys at Fiore & Barber today for a free consultation.

What Is New in Ridesharing Bills in Pennsylvania?

Uber and Lyft have been subjects of discussion in Pennsylvania, especially with lawmakers and tax specialists. The Philadelphia Parking Authority, or the PPA, has complained for a few years now that the state of ridesharing vehicles is appalling (severe physical damage, gas leaks, etc.) and that a new tax bill is in order. However, there are many conflicting opinions with the PPA that argue the problem is more complex.

Is There a New Tax Bill Regarding Ridesharing in Pennsylvania?

The PPA is arguing in favor of a change in the way taxis and ridesharing vehicles are taxed to raise funds for routine inspections. Specifically, a 50-cent tax is proposed for any car-for-hire in Pennsylvania. Uber and Lyft have disagreed with the new tax plan, and both companies have told the PPA that rideshare vehicles are safer than suggested in the state. Since last year, Uber and Lyft have actually passed 90 percent of all of their inspections, and these results raise further confusion on why the PPA wants to raise taxes.

The PPA continues their argument, stating that with the growing numbers of Uber and Lyft drivers every year, they are struggling to keep up with inspections led by limited staff. The PPA also argues that two thirds of rideshare tax revenue goes to the state’s school district and creating the tax levy would increase money for the district, from $3 million to $11 million a year.

The Pennsylvania Public Utilities Commission, however, disagrees that there is any problem with ridesharing in Pennsylvania. According to the committee’s chairwoman, the number of rideshare violations has been minimal. In conclusion, new legislation does not seem to be the current solution for Pennsylvania ridesharing right now. If you would like to keep up with ridesharing news in Pennsylvania, visit our firm’s website online or call for more information.

What Are My Possible Defenses After a DUI Arrest?

If you are ever charged with a DUI, you should know that the penalties for this type of charge can be pretty serious. If you have experienced a DUI arrest and you feel like you should fight the charge, understand that there are a few possible defenses that you could use in court. With a viable and well thought out defense, you could convince the prosecution to drop or reduce your charges, prevent your driver’s license from being suspended, or even win an acquittal at trial.

What Defenses Can I Use After I’m Arrested for a DUI?

The prosecution during your trial will try to prove that you were driving a vehicle and that you were “under the influence” while driving. Your defenses could either be related to the “driving” aspect or to the arrest procedures.

For a defense related to driving, you could argue that you weren’t necessarily driving. If you were parked and sleeping in your vehicle when law enforcement arrived, you could possibly have a good defense. Most states, however, don’t require proof of actual driving in order to be convicted for a DUI. Usually, the prosecution just needs to prove that you were “operating” or “physically controlling” the vehicle when you were intoxicated.

Another, and arguably easier defense for your DUI charge, is the defense related to how you were arrested. If you believe that the police officer didn’t follow the law when stopping and/or arresting you, you could use certain evidence to defend yourself.

Prove:

  • There was no probable cause for arrest: Police officers need probable cause to actually stop your vehicle, especially on the cause of a DUI suspicion. Traffic violations are usually the reason for the police’s probable cause, but if you believe the officer pulled you over for no legal reason, you could use this as a defense.
  • No Miranda warnings: Law enforcement is generally required to read your Miranda rights before questioning you while you are in police custody. If you made an incriminating statement in response to police questioning, and you were not given your Miranda warnings prior to this, the statement may not be admissible in court.

Our attorneys at Fiore & Barber can assist you if you were charged with a DUI and you want to fight your charge. Contact our firm today for a free consultation.

What Should I Do If I Am a Victim of a Hit-and-Run Car Accident?

Hit-and-run accidents are much harder to legally handle and investigate than other traffic accidents. Because the driver that caused the accident is unknown, it can be difficult to determine liability. Hit-and-runs also present some unique complications for victims in their pursuit of compensation.

What Are the Legal Consequences of a Hit-and-Run Accident?

In a civil injury lawsuit, victims may be able to recover punitive damages. Punitive damages are available if it can be shown that a defendant intentionally harmed the plaintiff or acted in a dangerous manner during the accident. Punitive damages are meant to punish another person (the defendant) in order to prevent poor conduct in the future as a warning to others. These types of damages are calculated based on the defendant’s lack of morality and how much money it would take to financially hurt them. Fleeing the scene of a crime is an intentional act, which is why the injury court will usually justify punitive damages in a hit-and-run incident. The plaintiff, of course, is also entitled to damages that compensate for medical expenses, pain and suffering, lost wages, etc.

There can also be criminal consequences for hit-and-run accidents. If the person who was hit was injured or killed, the defendant could face significant jail time. This will all depend on the kind of damages or injuries that the accident caused, but criminal penalties can result in misdemeanor or felony charges.

Unfortunately, much of the time there is no way to hold the running driver fully accountable for their actions in a hit-and-run. Because of this, victims of hit-and-run accidents are often forced to collect from their own insurance policies.

If you have been a victim of a hit-and-run car accident, you should know what your legal rights are in your specific situation. Contact our car accident attorneys at Fiore & Barber, LLC today for a free consultation.

What Are My Next Steps After Severely Damaging My Car After a Car Accident?

If you have ever been involved in a car accident, you know that there are many negative consequences that can occur. Personal injuries are common, but what’s even more common is having your vehicle be seriously damaged or possibly completely totaled. A total loss auto accident can occur from a deadly collision with another vehicle, or with hitting a deer, but it will ultimately depend on the value of your car. A total loss accident is unfortunately more difficult to process than just getting your vehicle repaired, so it’s important to know what you should do if you’re found in this situation.

What Are the Steps Involved in Closing a Total Loss Claim?

  1. Report your claim to the insurance company immediately: If you believe you have a total loss auto claim, you should act as soon as possible. These kinds of claims can take a long time to finalize and eventually close, depending on your insurance company and how fast they can start working on your claim.
  2. Get your vehicle towed to your insurance company’s chosen shop: If you think that your car will probably be totaled, you should have it towed to the shop that your insurance company works with. This will help speed up the process for your insurance company because they already have direct connections with the towing shop, plus most of those shops will hold your vehicle for free (unlike a tow company’s lot).
  3. Find your title: Locate your title during this process, just so you don’t have to worry about it later. If you’ve lost your title, file for a lost one at the DMV. This is important, because if your vehicle is a total loss, you’ll have to sign your title over to the insurance company.
  4. If you have a loan, find out how much you owe: Determine how much you owe on your auto loan just in case your loan is greater than your vehicle’s current value. Total loss auto claims are not paid out based on what you owe but on the actual cash value at the time of the total loss.
  5. Find out the value of your vehicle: You can check resources like Kelly Blue Book and other vehicle listings sources to find out the value of your vehicle on your own. Doing this research will give you a better idea of whether or not the insurance company will have a good final payout amount.

Our personal injury attorneys at Fiore & Barber, LLC can help you if you were injured in a car accident, and we will give you further advice on recovering from any vehicle damages that occurred. Contact us today.

Why Do I Need Title Insurance for My Commercial Property?

There are many important aspects of buying commercial real estate property, and so there are key components of the commercial real estate process that are crucial to get the best deal on your property. One key piece of any commercial real estate transaction is title insurance. Title insurance has been a beneficial real estate option for many years, but not all business owners actually take advantage of it.

What is Title Insurance?

Having a title is having the right to owning a piece of real estate. Title insurance is insurance that protects a real estate buyer from any issues with the chain of title to a property. This type of insurance can be helpful in both residential and commercial real estate transactions. Keeping track of titles associated with real estate finances can get very complicated, so title insurance plays a crucial role in the buying and selling of property.

How is Title Insurance Used in Commercial Real Estate?

Title insurance is a huge part of the due diligence phase and closing process in commercial real estate deals and transactions. There is more at stake for these types of deals because there are more parties involved in the transactions, such as the buyer, the seller, and the lender(s). If there is a loan lender involved, the buyer will almost always pay for the loan title insurance policy. Buyers are almost always solely responsible for the title insurance costs because the seller will usually just add the cost into the purchasing price. Sometimes, however, there will be issues in trying to determine who benefits the most from the insurance policy, which is why many buyers want their own separate owner’s policy.

Without title insurance, it would be almost impossible to get lenders to risk big amounts of capital on complicated deals and difficult transactions, and buyers would also be more reluctant to buy property. Contact our skilled real estate attorneys at Fiore and Barber, LLC to learn more about commercial real estate titles.

How to Prepare an Efficient Finance Plan for Your Business

The financial plan section of your business plan is one of the most important components for your company’s overall game plan. This section will determine whether or not your business is operable, and it will help establish if your plan is going to be able to attract any investments for your business idea. Your financial plan should consist of three main sections: the income statement, the cash flow projection, and the balance sheet.

Income statement: This financial statement will show your expenses, revenues, and overall profit for a certain period. It should prove whether or not your business is profitable at that specific point in time. Many businesses prioritize creating their income statement each fiscal quarter, but to ensure you’re getting the best snapshot of your business’ financial state, you should make one monthly for the first year.

Cash flow projection: This will show how cash is expected to surge in and out of your business. This is a crucial tool for cash flow management, and it will let you know when your payments are too high or if you need to make any short-term investments to deal with a surplus.

Balance sheet: This will illustrate your business’ net worth at a particular point in time. It serves as a summary for all the financial data about your business, which is broken down into your assets, liabilities, and equity. Usually, businesses will make a balance sheet once a year, because it ultimately summarizes what data you’ll have from your income statements and cash flow projections.

You should also prepare all of your start up business expense data, which could include any registration fees, licenses, permits, inventories, rent deposits, down payments, or utility fees. Make sure you’re keeping track of any operating expenses too, such as salaries, rent or mortgage payments, utilities, loan payments, or any other regular expenses.

If you’re thinking about starting your own business, or you would like to modify your current financial plan, our business attorneys at Fiore & Barber, LLC are ready to help. Contact us today to get you started in mending your business finances.

What’s the Difference Between Revocable and Irrevocable Trusts?

Trusts are legal documents used in the estate planning process, and they are held in a fiduciary relationship by one party for the benefit of another party. A trust can be created during a person’s lifetime and survive after death, or it can be created by a will and carried on after death. Any assets that are placed in a trust actually belong to the trust itself, and they remain subject to any rules or agreements of the trust contract. There are two main types of trusts; one type is revocable and the other is irrevocable.

What Are Revocable Trusts?

The word “revocable” means alterable or changing, so a revocable trust is created during the lifetime of the trust maker and can be altered or modified entirely. Also referred to as a living trust, these are trusts that allow the trust maker to transfer the title of a property to a trust and remove the property from the trust while he or she is still alive. A revocable trust is a great option if you want to avoid probate and you want to protect your assets from being subject to probate. However, revocable trusts do not protect your assets, because the assets inside of the trust will remain available to the trust maker’s creditors.

What Are Irrevocable Trusts?

Irrevocable trusts are the opposite of revocable trusts, so they are trusts that cannot be altered, changed or modified after its creation. Once any property is transferred to an irrevocable trust, no one can take the property out of the trust, including the trust maker. However, these trusts do provide asset protection, because the grantor no longer owns the assets. The assets would only belong to the independent trustee, who then can manage the assets for any beneficiaries involved in the trust.

The attorneys at Fiore & Barber, LLC can help you through the complicated estate planning process, including helping you decide which trust might be right for you. Contact us today for a free consultation.

How Do I Adopt a Child In Pennsylvania?

Every state has its own unique set of procedures and guidelines when it comes to child adoption. Families in Pennsylvania that are interested in adoption should be aware of the required documents, costs, and preparations involved in the adoption process. Pennsylvania courts take this series of actions seriously, and your family should too if you’re ready to have a new child enter your life.

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What Are the Licensing Requirements?

To adopt in Pennsylvania, you must be 21 years or older as a state resident.  A necessary requirement for the adoption process is to attend 24 hours of training of “parent preparation.” This training will teach new parents how to adapt to your adopted child’s needs, and to realize that their past experiences and history will affect your relationship with them. There are different parenting techniques required as an adoptive parent, so this training will really help give you an inside look at the different conditions relating to this system. Next, the adoptive parents, and any other family members living in the home, need several state and federal background and criminal checks. You’ll also need physical tests, non-family member references, and a safety check of your home. Finally, you’ll need to create a family profile that highlights your family’s strengths and preferences, and a social worker in the adoption agency will help you build this. The state of Pennsylvania does not care about your marital status, income, or residential status.

How Much Does It Cost?

Depending on the adoption agency and/or the child’s foster care agency, you’ll have to pay a collection of agency fees up front. These fees cover the required training and family profile, as well as any other fees that are dependent on the specific agency you’re working with.

If your family is interested in adopting a child in the state of Pennsylvania, don’t hesitate to contact the attorneys at Fiore & Barber. We specialize in family law and can offer you applicable adoption-related services throughout the process.

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