Testimonials

DUI penalties in Pennsylvania are one of the most common legal charges in the Keystone State. In fact, around 50,000 Pennsylvanians are hit with this misdemeanor every year. Still, being hit with a DUI can be scary, especially if you don’t know how to respond.

This quick guide will answer all of your questions on the subject, such as;

  • What is the acceptable level of blood alcohol for drivers in PA?
  • How are DUI chargers categorized by detoxification level?
  • What are the repercussions of a DUI in Pennsylvania?
  • How should you fight DUI penalties in PA?
  • What to do if you have a problem with driving while intoxicated?

DUI Penalties In PA Explained

DUI Penalties in PA

Did you know that you could be given DUI penalties in Pennsylvania for riding a bicycle? That’s because it is classified as a vehicle and law enforcement teams can hit you with this misdemeanor when in control of any vehicle while over the legal drinking limit.

We all have unique tolerance levels for alcohol, but DUI laws are set in accordance with your Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) level. As such, the severity of your DUI could fall into any of the following categories:

  • General Impairment - BAC levels are between 0.08 and .099%.
  • High BAC - BAC levels are between .10 and .159% BAC.
  • Highest BAC - BAC levels of .16% and higher.

The penalty for DUI in Pennsylvania will be based on your BAC level and whether you have any previous convictions.

General Impairment DUI Penalties

  • First-time offenders - $300 fine, ungraded misdemeanor, 6 months probation, and the need to attend alcohol highway safety.
  • Second-time offenders - fine of up to $2,500, ungraded misdemeanor, up to 6 months jail time, 12-month license suspension, attend alcohol highway safety school, and 1-year ignition interlock.
  • Third (or more) time offenders - fine of up to $5,000, second-grade misdemeanor, up to 24 months jail time, 12-month license suspension, and 1-year ignition interlock.

High BAC DUI Penalties

  • First time offenders - fine of up to $5,000 fine, ungraded misdemeanor, 12 month license suspension, up to 6 months jail time, and the need to attend alcohol highway safety.
  • Second time offenders - fine of up to $5,000 fine, ungraded misdemeanor, 12 month license suspension, up to 6 months jail time, attending alcohol highway safety school, and 1 year ignition interlock.
  • Third time offenders - fine of up to $7,500 fine, first misdemeanor, 18 month license suspension, up to 5 years months jail time, and 1 year ignition interlock.
  • Fourth (or more) time offenders - fine of up to $10,000 fine, first misdemeanor, 18 month license suspension, up to 5 years months jail time, and 1 year ignition interlock.

Highest BAC DUI Penalties

  • First time offenders - fine of up to $5,000 fine, ungraded misdemeanor, 12 month license suspension, up to 6 months jail time, and the need to attend alcohol highway safety.
  • Second time offenders - fine of up to $10,000 fine, ungraded misdemeanor, 12 month license suspension, up to 6 months jail time, attending alcohol highway safety school, and 1 year ignition interlock.
  • Third time (or more) offenders - fine of up to $10,000 fine, first misdemeanor, 18 month license suspension, up to 5 years months jail time, and 1 year ignition interlock.

While the maximum fines from the Pennsylvania DMV are often the same for first and second time offenders, it should be noted that the lowest possible fine and jail time repercussions get progressively worse.

What To Do After Getting A DUI?

DUI Penalties in PA

When you are arrested for a DUI, it’s scary - not least because Senate Bill 961 (SB 961) increased the fines back in 2018. However, knowing how to retain control in this situation should help you avoid the worst scenarios.

First and foremost, you should take the BAC chemical test. This will instantly reduce the potential damage should your BAC levels fall into the category of General Impairment. Besides, failure to cooperate with law enforcement will only make the situation harder.

Image 

After a conviction, you should quickly contact a DUI attorney that boasts vast experience in handling cases of this nature in PA. DUI laws are complex, but being represented by the right expert will aid your cause. In the meantime, a bail bondsman will be needed to post your bail.

You will subsequently have a period of 10 days to officially request a DMV hearing. Failure to do this will result in an instant suspension of your driver’s license. Finally, you will want to prepare for your arraignment. This is another reason to choose a good DUI attorney as they can argue your innocence or challenge the case for other reasons. 

In turn, you should gain a much smaller sentence and a fine - or, better still, have the case dismissed. 

Getting Help With Your Drunk Driving Problem

DUI Penalties in PA

DUI penalties in PA aren’t the only reason to avoid driving while intoxicated. Even if you feel safe behind the wheel, the truth is that even a small impairment can endanger drivers, passengers, and other road users alike.

Whether you have been hit with a DUI or narrowly escaped one, now is the time to act. Some top tips include;

  • Speak to a professional therapist,
  • Start leaving your keys at home when socializing around alcohol,
  • Ask friends to stop you from making poor decisions,
  • Learn how to enjoy events without alcohol.

The road ahead may feel bumpy from time to time, but it could save your life.

Driving while you’re under the influence of drugs or alcohol is illegal in Pennsylvania and every other state in America. If you are pulled over and are found to be DUI, you might be wondering what happens next.

You’ll undoubtedly have many questions, one of which will be, how long does a DUI stay on your record? The following explains more about a DUI from a legal standpoint, and explores the question of how long a DUI stays on your driving record and what to do about it.

What Is DUI?

How Long Does A DUI Stay On Your Record

DUI is an acronym for “driving under the influence” and refers to the offense of operating, driving, or controlling a vehicle if you’re impaired by alcohol or drugs.

Alcohol DUI

In Pennsylvania, the current legal limit for BAC (blood alcohol concentration) is 0.08%.  It used to be 0.10%, but it was lowered to 0.08% many years ago by the 2003 Act 24.

If you get pulled over by the police and provide a specimen for their breathalyzer, you won’t get arrested and charged if your BAC is 0.08% or less. It’s worth noting that alcohol can still remain in your blood the next day, albeit at lower BAC levels.

Drug DUI

If you have consumed a “controlled substance” (i.e., drugs), the state of Pennsylvania will typically apply the harshest penalties to people charged with drug DUI.

Citizens who refuse to provide a breathalyzer sample or agree to a chemical test automatically are subject to the same high penalties.

What Happens When You Get Charged With DUI?

How Long Does A DUI Stay On Your Record

If you get charged with a DUI offense, whether it’s impairment due to alcohol or drugs, the penalties you could potentially receive if convicted will depend on several factors.

For example, they can depend on whether it’s your first DUI charge/conviction or not, the severity of your DUI, and whether there were any extenuating circumstances surrounding your impairment.

No Prior DUI Offenses

If it’s your first offense, you can expect to get classed as an ungraded misdemeanor, which is less severe than a felony offense.

An undetermined BAC or 0.08% to 0.099% could result in up to six months probation, a $300 fine, and treatment; this is known as a “General Impairment” penalty.

If you’ve got a BAC of 0.10% to 0.159%, your license could be suspended for 12 months, and you could face anything from 48 hours to six months in prison. You’d also have to pay a fine of between $500 and $5,000, and this is known as a High BAC penalty.

Additionally, if you have a BAC of 0.16% or higher, the highest BAC penalty will apply. That means 72 hours to 6 months in prison and a $1,000 to $5,000 fine.

1+ Prior DUI Offenses

As you can imagine, the penalties are harsher still if you’ve got a previous conviction for DUI on your criminal record.

For example, you could spend between five days and five years in prison, a driving license suspension of up to 18 months, and in some cases, a 12-month ignition interlock on your vehicle.

How Long Does A DUI Stay On Your Criminal Record?

How Long Does A DUI Stay On Your Record
How Long Does A DUI Stay On Your Record Image 3

There are many disadvantages to having a criminal record. For example, it can affect your ability to get a job, obtain finance, buy a house and even volunteer within the community. That’s why it’s a good idea to avoid having a criminal record.

Unfortunately, circumstances can mean that it isn’t always possible. If you get a criminal record due to a DUI conviction, you can expect it to remain active for ten years.

If you get charged with a DUI offense, the only way to avoid a criminal record is by having the proper legal representation that can successfully challenge the charge and eliminate it in court.

What Can You Do About A DUI?

Getting charged with a DUI conviction doesn’t mean you should assume the worst. At Fiore & Barber, LLC, our lawyers can help eliminate or minimize the severity of any DUI charges.

We’ve worked with thousands of DUI cases in PA, ranging from first-offense DUIs to felony cases involving prior drunk-driving convictions. Our expert team has a distinguished record of success in DUI cases.

If you’d like some practical advice and a robust defense, contact us today at 215-256-0205 or email us for a free consultation.

Child support is there to ensure that both parents support their child financially regardless of their relationship. Whether a couple remains friendly or moves far apart from each other, both parents have a duty to provide for their child. But what exactly does child support cover and who decides what the funds are used for?

What does child support cover?

What Does Child Support Cover?

Child support covers a number of needs.

Basic Needs

Basic needs include everything that a child would need on a day to day basis. Child support can be used to cover necessities such as:

  • Housing-related costs to ensure that the child has a safe place to stay. This can include rent payments for a home but it can also include mortgage payments.
  • Food and clothing costs to ensure that the child is well-fed and has well-fitting clothes for daily use and school.
  • Transportation expenses such as car payments and fuel, public transport costs, and also transportation costs for visiting friends, family members, and various activities.

Child Care

There are times where a parent may need to rely on child care services to look after their child. For instance, a parent that must work to provide for their child may need to hire a babysitter or keep their child in a care facility until they are able to finish work.

These costs will be taken into consideration when calculating the amount of child support. Factors such as how much each parent earns and how much time is spent with the child will also be factored in.

School tuition and related expenses

The custodial parent can decide how to best use child support to pay for tuition and school-related expenses. This can include stationery supplies, books, field trips, and even electronic devices for the purpose of education. Child support can also be used for tuition fees for private schools.

While the age of majority is 18 in most states, a parent may still be obligated to pay child support throughout their post-secondary education. Courts may consider factors like the parent’s expectations for the child, the combined financial circumstances of both parents, and if there are alternative sources of funding to provide for the child.

Related expenses may also include tutoring fees, summer camp costs, uniform and instrument costs, and extracurricular events and activities.

Medical expenses

Most child support orders include a requirement for both parents to pay a certain amount towards medical expenses. However, these calculations typically don’t include extra costs such as hospital visits and equipment such as braces. Many of these extraordinary costs are paid for by the custodial parent.

For medical insurance, courts and child support agencies will examine each parent’s situation to see which can obtain quality health insurance for their child. The cost of this health insurance will be taken into consideration. However, if the child receives state-sponsored medical insurance, then the courts will not include health insurance as part of the child support calculations.

Custodial parents decide how the funds are used

What Does Child Support Cover?

It’s worth mentioning that although both parents can communicate on how to use child support funds, the custodial parent has the responsibility of choosing how to use them to provide for the child’s needs.

If a parent objects to how the funds are used, it must first be proved by the objecting parent. Since this is a difficult task, these situations typically only arise when there is a gross misuse of the child support funds. This will prompt a child welfare investigation before leading to further action. However, most courts and child support agencies will not offer assistance if there is a simple disagreement or argument between parents on how the money is spent.

To conclude, child support funds should always cover expenses that are in the best interests of the child and not the parent. Children have the right to have both parents sponsor them and both parents can have a say in how the funds are spent. However, if there are disagreements over how the custodial parent is using the child support funds, then a case can be raised.

Contact Fiore & Barber for more information

What Does Child Support Cover?

If you’d like to learn more about child support or are concerned about the welfare of your child, don’t hesitate to contact Fiore & Barber today for more information. If you suspect that the custodial parent isn’t meeting your child’s basic needs, then it’s important to take action immediately so that the issue can be solved.

From the Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry:


PA Dept of Labor Industry

With the introduction of the new Pennsylvania Unemployment Compensation System, employers may be searching for a way to report refusals of work. The system does not currently have a designated area where employers can easily make these reports.

Employers are encouraged to continue to use the UC-1921W Online Form. This form can be submitted directly through the PA UC website, or employers can email completed forms to RefusalofWork@pa.govPlease only use one method and do not send multiple reports for the same incident.

A refusal of suitable work issue arises under the following circumstances:

  • An employer offers work to an individual who is NOT already employed by the employer, and the individual refuses the offer.
  • An employee refuses a recall to work after an indefinite lay-off from the employer.
  • An individual discourages being hired, during the interview process.
  • PA CareerLink® refers an individual to an employer and the individual refuses or fails to report for the interview.

Employers should NOT report the following issues using the UC-1921W Online Form:

  • Call-offs/Absent Hours/PTO/Limited Availability
  • No-Show for Shifts
  • Voluntary Quits or Discharges
  • Declined assignments if the individual is still considered employed by the agency
  • Reasonable Assurance for School Claims
  • Any other potential issues involving a current employee or an individual considered, by the employer, to still be employed

So you have represented yourself and a Magisterial District Judgment has been entered again. What do you do? An appeal from a Magisterial District Judge is made to the Court of Common Pleas. The form used to file such an appeal is universal for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The form can be found here.

notice of appeal from magisterial district judge judgment

The form must be completed and filed with the Court of Common Pleas of the County in which the Magisterial District Court Judgment is entered. Once the form is filed, you must serve the filed form on the Plaintiff and the Magisterial District Judge where the judgment was entered. If you are the Plaintiff and you appealed, you must then file a Complaint. If you were the Defendant or one of the Defendants, the burden then shifts to the other party, the other party must file a Complaint.  

Failure to adhere to the strict civil procedural requirements of the law can have a negative effect on your case and even result in your case being dismissed or terminated. Make your next move, your best move and seek a consultation with an attorney at the Law Offices of Fiore & Barber, LLC. 

How to Be Awarded Custody of Your Child - Fiore and Barber, LLC

There are almost 750,000 divorces happening every year in the US. However, each of them is unique and can have long-lasting emotional consequences for everyone involved, especially your children. Making all the right decisions in their best interest is essential to ensure that they will grow up in a loving home where they can flourish.

While child custody and child support are the most important priorities for divorcing parents, they are also the most delicate and strongly disputed topics in most divorces. 

Whether you are looking to obtain full or joint custody of your child, it is vital to understand the steps of a child custody battle and be prepared to present a winning case. The judge will carefully review each piece of evidence you can provide and always make a decision based on the children's best interest. However, understanding what's ahead can help you prepare in the best way.

How to Be Awarded Custody of Your Child - Fiore and Barber, LLC

Consult a Specialized Attorney

If custody of your child is disputed, the first step is always to consult a specialized and highly experienced attorney. While you are not formally required to hire an attorney ("pro se" filing), family law can be challenging to navigate and, without the right knowledge, your chances of obtaining your child's custody considerably decrease. 

During your child custody battle, you will be required to complete specialized forms, file paperwork at the courthouse, and prepare for your hearing. A specialized attorney can prevent you from making mistakes that will delay your court date and help you prepare to present the strongest case for yourself. 

Don't forget that each divorce and child custody battle is unique — understanding the local law and knowing how to behave in front of your randomly assigned judge can be crucial aspects to obtain what you are asking. 

Have Honest and Realistic Expectations

Divorces are undoubtedly complicated, but they can be even more so when the emotions and affection for your child are involved. 

However, before appearing in front of a judge, it is essential to understand what to expect from child custody and what to ask for in child custody. While you might want full custody, you should consider whether that's the right decision for you and your child from various viewpoints, such as financial, environmental, and emotional.

Having a full understanding of your life and pre-existing responsibilities won't only help you present a stronger case but also fight for the right outcomes.

How to Be Awarded Custody of Your Child - Fiore and Barber, LLC

Create a Meaningful Relationship With Your Child

During the investigation process, the court will look for any piece of evidence that suggests that you are the most suitable person to obtain custody. While you might already be covering your children's financial, practical, and material needs, you should also do all that is in your power to build a meaningful relationship with them.

Some evidence of this connection might include knowledge of their academic process, social life, sports they might play, and interests. The judge might also look into whether you are actively involved with their lives, attending events, supporting their education, and being present in their everyday lives.

Create A Positive Environment For Your Child

When assigning a child's custody to one of the parents, Courts look for factors that will benefit the children's future lives. Some factors, such as the wealth and gender of the parent, are no longer discriminated against, but the judge will still investigate what living accommodation and environment are best suited for the child's development. 

They are likely to inquire about your child's living accommodations, looking for signs that the child has a dedicated, special space in your home. You might need to provide evidence that you are regularly at your residence, your child always has a bed to sleep in, and your residence is safe and adequate.

Part of creating a positive environment for your child is also treating the other parent with respect. While you might be disputing child custody, it is essential to remain polite, respectful, and open to communication.

Present A Compelling Case and Be Patient

Here at Fiore & Barber, we know that each divorce case is different and unique, and we are ready to put our 25 years of experience at your disposal and help you fight to obtain the child custody arrangements you deserve. 

How to Be Awarded Custody of Your Child - Fiore and Barber, LLC

The role of the executor of an estate is one of complete trust and supreme responsibility.  Whomever you choose to serve in this capacity will oversee your final wishes to ensure that your Last Will and Testament are carried out as you have set forth. In theory, the person who is the executor of your estate will not have any problems with your beneficiaries. However, unfortunately, there are times when an issue or issues may arise which cause friction between the executor and a beneficiary of the estate.

Here are some of the most frequent issues that can arise:

Conflict of Interest

Often an individual will appoint a person to execute his or her will and that individual is also a beneficiary.  Typically, that is not an issue and the other heirs will understand that being named in a will does not automatically mean that you will not be a fair executor. However, beneficiaries often take issue with an executor based upon the executor fees. There are also times when an executor has abused that position of trust, if they believe that your executor is focusing on his or her own best interest at the expense of their interests and those of the estate.  Lack of trust may lead to claims of a conflict of interest, in an effort to disqualify your executor from continuing to operate in that capacity.

Mismanaging Funds of Estate

The assets of an estate must be managed properly during the probate process. The executor must act in a fiduciary capacity. Securing all assets is one of the most important roles of the position and is vital if the estate has many assets or outstanding debts.  Transactions must be recorded throughout the process of paying debts, filing tax returns, and distributing bequests using the funds or property available.  Sometimes, heirs will believe that the executor is not properly managing the assets of the estate and may file a complaint out of concern for the security of what they expect to inherit.  While an executor is compensated for his or her time, the amount of compensation may seem nominal in comparison to the value of the estate, leading to unease from heirs who believe the executor will find other ways to be compensated.

Lack of Communication

One of the most time-consuming aspects of serving as an executor is communicating with everyone associated with the estate.  Contacting creditors, keeping the courts informed, and talking to the beneficiaries is not always easy.  Unfortunately, some beneficiaries may not be satisfied with the level of communication they are receiving from an executor.  If they believe that they have not been contacted on a regular basis regarding the status of the estate, then they may initiate a complaint or attempt to get your executor removed. Creating your Will and choosing an executor is just one of the many things that you must do in order to ensure your estate is properly and smoothly administered.  The attorneys at the Law Offices of Fiore & Barber, LLC have over 50 years of combined experience to guide you through the entire process, and help you decide who is best suited to manage your estate.  Schedule your free consultation today!

how to respond to a lawsuit without an attorney

Receiving a summons or complaint against you can be a daunting experience, particularly when you don’t have an attorney. As the right to an attorney only applies to incarcerated individuals, as many as 90% of individuals go without legal representation every year. But you are not alone; Fiore & Barber, LLC, is on hand for advice on how to respond to a lawsuit without an attorney.

If you receive a complaint or summons, responding is essential. No response is considered an admission of guilt, and the plaintiff (the person with the complaint) may receive everything they’ve alleged as a default judgment will be passed against you. In most cases, you will have up to 28 days to respond, but this will vary by state.

Analyzing The Complaint

In addition to submitting your response on time, you must also include essential information to register your response successfully. Carefully read the complaint and include the same details in your response regarding the plaintiff, your name and address (you will be known as the defendant), the correct court, county, case number, and the judge. When you read the complaint, take note of every point made in the complaint’s body, as these will be what you are responding to. Make a copy of the complaint you can annotate and keep a clean copy of the original document.

Writing Your Response

Your response should cover every paragraph in the complaint and whether you admit or deny each point raised. If you can’t remember whether part of the complaint is correct, it may be safer to deny it and avoid relying on your memory. For each point that you admit or deny, include a brief reason why. An example would be if the plaintiff alleged you never paid back a loan you’ve already repaid. You can include any affirmative defense at the end of these responses, such as the statute of limitations nullifying the complaint. You should also make sure you include any relevant counterclaims that relate to the plaintiff. Then, ask the judge to dismiss the claim and sign your name and print your contact details below.

how to respond to a lawsuit without an attorney

What Is A Counterclaim?

If you feel that the plaintiff wronged you in a way that is financially or legally relevant to the claim, you may want to file a counterclaim. The plaintiff in your original complaint will need to respond to your counterclaim. The judge would need to consider your counterclaim alongside the original claim. A counterclaim is different from a defense. The defense is when there is a reason the complaint is incorrect, while a counterclaim is you suing the individual that filed the complaint. 

A counterclaim doesn’t have to be directly related to the same complaint but does have to be relevant to the plaintiff. For instance, if you live in a rented property and are sued for damages, your counterclaim may be that your landlord didn’t pay you back your security deposit. You must include the counterclaim in your answer; otherwise, you may lose your right to sue.

Filing The Response

Make a copy of your response and mail the first one to the Plaintiff’s Attorney’s address. Tracking the post is essential to make sure you have a record of the delivery arriving. Bring the original response and another copy to the county courthouse. They will charge a filing fee, keep the original, and stamp your copy as proof of your response being submitted. This process covers the counterclaim as well, as this is included in your response. Once you’ve filed the response, you should keep the court updated with any address or telephone number changes. If you have any legal documentation that proves any aspect of your defense or counterclaim, you should start compiling this. Keep at least three copies of these ready.

What Happens Next

After you’ve filed your response, you may be invited to a pre-trial hearing with the judge to see if the case can be settled without a trial. Depending on the pre-trial hearing outcome, you may then be invited to court and present your defense or counterclaim. You can call upon yourself as a witness or call other witnesses relevant to your claim.
The information given here does not constitute legal advice and is not state specific, but we hope it is useful so that you'll know how to respond to a lawsuit without an attorney. If you need a little help, you can always contact us at Fiore & Barber, and we’ll be there for legal advice and support.

How To Change Your Name After A Divorce Many people understandably want to change their name after a divorce. You do not need to explain the reason for the name change. For most divorcees, part of the motivation for a name change is to regain their identity and independence and remove the name that symbolically ties them to their ex-spouse. Whatever the reason, it is certainly possible to replace your name after you get a divorce. The more important question is how to change your name after a divorce. The name-change process varies from state to state, but the general steps are the same. If you want to know how to change your name after a divorce, you may need to consult an attorney to help with both the name change and the overall divorce process. In many states, you need to request to restore your previous name or petition for a name change on your divorce appeal. Even if you do not make this request at the time of your divorce, you can get the name changed later by requesting a court order.

What Are the Steps to Change Your Name in PA?

If you want to know how to change your name after a divorce, you need to understand your state's laws. However, the process is quite simple. There are three main steps required to change your name in the state. First, you need a court order as proof of the divorce name change. After you have acquired the court order, you need to notify the SSA (Social Security Administration) of the change. Also, you will need to change your name with the DMV. Getting a Court Order The domestic relations court has the power to "restore any name that the person had before marriage." You can ask the court to include the restoration of your name in its final divorce or dissolution decree. An important thing to note here is that, while a domestic relations court has the power to restore your former name (as it appeared on your ID before marriage), it cannot change your name to a completely new one. For that, you would have to go to a probate court in your county. In case you don't have the name restoration included in the Final Decree of Divorce, you may still change your name later through your county's probate court. This process involves some paperwork. There are forms to fill out, and you will need to publish the notice of the application in a local newspaper at least 30 days before the official hearing. While publishing your name change in the newspaper may seem unnecessary at first, it is actually for a good reason. The main reason that you have to do this step in some states is to avoid people changing their names secretly to defraud creditors.

Changing Your Name with the SSA

How To Change Your Name After A Divorce Once you have the court order for a name change, the next step is to apply for a new social security card. You can complete the application online. The SSA will ask you to present legal documents proving the requested name is legally yours. In this case, the court order that granted your name change qualifies as a legal document. Other materials you may need include a birth certificate or passport as proof of both citizenship and identity.

Changing Your Name with the DMV

Once you have applied for a new social security card, you will need to request a name change at a DMV. For this step, you will need your new social security card, your driver's license, and proof of your name change (the court order) along with the payment for any applicable fees. Your driver's license will then be updated to reflect the changed name.

Avoid the Extra Court Order by Including Your Name Change in the Divorce Petition

How To Change Your Name After A Divorce You may have noticed that applying for a name change after a divorce can be complicated. The fastest and simplest way to get your name changed after a divorce is to include the request for a name change in the divorce petition. The court will then include that new name in its final pronouncement. However, the other processes, such as getting a new social security card and having your name changed at the DMV, are still necessary. Something to note is that, even if the court makes the Decree of Divorce without including the name change, you could still theoretically continue using your pre-marriage name in social situations. You will need a court order as proof of a name change for official purposes and legal situations. Agencies, organizations, and employers will require you to present some proof of the name change before they agree to use it on official documents. As long as you include the request for a name change in your divorce petition, you should receive it as part of the court's pronouncement. If you don't, you can follow the steps above to get it changed after the fact. Once you have the court papers, you can have your name officially changed at school, work, and on official documents.

Notify the Correct Departments and Agencies about the Name Change

How To Change Your Name After A Divorce Once you have changed your name legally, it is still your responsibility to modify your name on other records and identity documents. Some places you may have to notify include: • Voter registration • Passport • Post office • IRS • State tax authority • Insurance policies • Places of employment • Investment plans • Retirement plans • Credit cards • Subscriptions and memberships You may also have to consider changing other sensitive documents, such as your will, power of attorney, contracts, trust documents and records, and health care proxies. Because of the complexity associated with name changes, you should consult with a qualified lawyer regarding a name change and any other significant legal matter. The attorney may explain the full implications of a name change and advise you on how to navigate the situation. Ideally, your attorney will have the knowledge and experience to help with all aspects of the divorce, as well.

Did you know the DUI laws in Pennsylvania are changing? On October 24, 2018, Governor Tom Wolf signed Senate Bill 961 (SB 961) into law, increasing the penalties for driving under the influence. Here’s what you need to know about these new penalties, and how they could affect people charged with a DUI.

How Does Senate Bill 961 Increase DUI Penalties?

For the first time in Pennsylvania history, the state will have felony driving under the influence charges. Drivers arrested for a third DUI charge with a blood-alcohol level of .16 percent or higher will be charged with a third-degree felony. A driver arrested four times or more for drunk or drugged driving will automatically be charged with felony DUI. This intensifies the penalties for repeat offenders. Prior DUI convictions will also factor into penalties when it comes to fatal/injury crashes caused by drivers who were drinking. The current mandatory sentence for a vehicular homicide charge is three years. However, under the new legislation signed by our governor, the minimum penalty for a DUI driver caught in such an accident will be five years. If that DUI driver has two or more previous DUI convictions, that minimum sentence increases to seven years under SB 961.

What Effects Could These Changes Have on Your Life?

Besides increasing the possible jailtime you face, a felony conviction can have serious effects on your life. It can increase how long your license is suspended and it will remain on your criminal record. Anyone who runs a background check will see your felony conviction. This is why an attorney is so important when it comes to defending yourself from these charges. An attorney can investigate to see if there were any flaws in the collection and processing of evidence in your case. Getting such evidence excluded could result in the reduction of charges against you or even a dismissal of your case. If your constitutional rights were violated during your arrest, an attorney can utilize those violations to plea bargain for a lesser offense. These legal changes highlight just how important defending yourself against DUI charges can be. A felony conviction could send your life into a tailspin and seriously affect your future. At Fiore & Barber, LLC, we are experienced DUI lawyers who work diligently to give our clients the defense they need. Call us at (215)256-0205 to schedule a free consultation.