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.

family photo

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.

How Do Horses Relate to DUIs in Pennsylvania?

Whiskey with car keys and handcuffs concept for drinking and drivingWhat do a 53-year-old Florida woman and a 19-year-old Amish teen from Pennsylvania have in common? Besides the most interesting first line to a joke, these two seemingly unrelated people got caught up in rare aspects of drunk driving law you may not have been aware of. And when it comes to the serious nature of DUIs in Pennsylvania, it is important to always be informed.

Things You May Not Have Known About DUIs in Pennsylvania

In Lakeland, Florida, a 53-year-old woman was disoriented while riding horseback in the afternoon. After getting her off the animal, they found her blood alcohol level was twice the legal limit. They took her to jail and her horse to the Polk County Sheriff’s Animal Control livestock facility because in Florida a horse is considered a vehicle. The law isn’t very different here in Pennsylvania.

While on patrol in New Wilmington at around 7:30pm, an officer saw a buggy travelling without its required lights activated. When he pulled the buggy over and asked the driver to activate the lights he noticed the 19-year-old struggling to control his horse. He subsequently discovered that the teen had a blood-alcohol content of .0526, which is higher that the .02 limit for people under the age of 21. The Amish teen was charged with a DUI.

In both these cases, driver and rider were arrested for DUI because horses and horse drawn vehicles are still considered vehicles in their respective states. Here Pennsylvania, a horse and rider/buggy are considered vehicles with full rights to the road and all the duties that entails, which means drunk driving laws apply to modes of transport involving horses. Considering how common this type of transport is in our state that’s a good thing to know. If you are under the age of 21, it’s also good to know that the legal limit for your age group is .02 and not .08.

From the attorneys at Fiore & Barber, LLC—helping you understand your rights and the laws of Pennsylvania.

When Defective Fire Extinguishers Take Lives

Around 2:30 am, a young man from West Chester, Pennsylvania was driving near a local university when his car suddenly veered off road where it hit a tree and burst into flames. First responders were on the scene within around five minutes.

As rescuers struggled to remove the man from the car, they tried to use fire extinguishers to knock down the fire. However, the safety devices didn’t work. Now, the company that made those defective fire extinguishers are facing federal scrutiny, and your safety may hinge on knowing what’s going on.

Beware! Defective Fire Extinguishers Are Being Recalled

The Consumer Product Safety Commission has announced that some 40 million fire extinguishers manufactured by Kidde are to be recalled. These fire extinguishers were built with plastic handles and push buttons; however, they can become clogged and malfunction during an emergency. The nozzles to these devices may also detach and pose an impact hazard.

The defective extinguishers are spread across a range of over 140 models manufactured between 1973 and September 22, 2017. They are sold online and at stores like Walmart, Sears, Home Depot and many other stores. If you have a fire extinguisher in your home, it’s important to check to make sure you do not have an affected model.

The faulty extinguishers that didn’t work for Pennsylvania fire fighters may have caused the young man from West Chester to perish. His family has since taken Kidde—manufacturers of these defective fire extinguishers—to court and a possible settlement could be pending. However, these devices were sold all over the country, and many more families may have been hurt when they tried to use their extinguishers.

Be careful out there, and check to make sure your fire extinguisher is safe by going to this website.

This warning was brought to you by the product liability attorneys at Fiore & Barber, LLC—protecting consumers when they are in need.

What Are the 3 Types of Distractions that Causes Distracted Driving Crashes?

Did you know that there are three different types of driving distractions? Visual distractions make you look away from the road. Manual distractions occupy your hands and force you to release the steering wheel. Cognitive distractions are things that steer your mind away from the task of driving safely. It’s easy to understand how these types of distractions can affect your driving, but do you know what activities cause them?

The Distractions That Can Cause Distracted Driving

  • Passengers– Not many people realize that their passengers can also be contributors to distracted driving crashes. Depending on the circumstance, passengers can be a cognitive, visual or manual distraction, but are rarely all at once. Talking to someone else in the car can provide a cognitive distraction, looking at something a passenger is trying to show you can be a visual distraction, and if your child’s seatbelt has come loose, trying to buckle it while driving can turn into a manual distraction.
  • Adjusting Vehicle Features– Adjusting features on your infotainment system or navigation system can also cause a major distraction. You have to manually remove at least hand from the steering wheel to adjust controls on your vehicles console. The task of finding a station or that song you’ve been wanting to listen to can also take your eyes off the road causing a visual distraction. And if your infotainment system has layers of menus to sort through, then the problems it can cause while driving only multiply.
  • Smartphones– Everyone has a smartphone now-a-days, but this is one of the few devices that can engage every type of distraction at once. Texting involves you taking your eyes off the road, reading or thinking up a response, and taking your hand off the wheel to hold the phone and type. This is one of the reasons texting and driving is considered even more dangerous than drinking and driving. Even talking a voice call on your cell can be dangerous, because it can cause serious cognitive distractions even if you have a handsfree set.

There are plenty of things that can cause distraction while you’re out on the road, but drivers are responsible for driving our public roads safely. That means asking passengers to keep distractions to a minimum, setting up your vehicle controls before you drive off and silencing/turning off your smartphone while driving are practical responsibilities. Drivers can be held responsible for their negligence, and the automobile accident attorneys at Fiore & Barber are dedicated to protecting anyone who has fallen victim to negligent driving.

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