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Du Bois Pennsylvania Legal Blog

Does DUI blood-alcohol test refusal fee violate USSC ruling?

Most Pennsylvania residents are already aware that they face a driver's license suspension if they refuse to take a breath test during a traffic stop if a police officer suspects impairment. What they may not yet be aware of is that beginning on Jan. 11 the state intends to institute a pretty hefty fee for those convicted of DUI who refused to submit to a blood-alcohol test. One issue that may arise because of this new law is that it could violate a ruling issued by the U.S. Supreme Court. 

In 2016, the country's highest court ruled that law enforcement officials must have a search warrant or consent in order to conduct a blood-alcohol test. Under the ruling, officials are not allowed to impose, or threaten to impose, criminal penalties on someone who refused to give consent. Pennsylvania's new law may violate this ruling since it may end up imposing a criminal penalty for refusing the test.

Should you participate in field sobriety tests in a DUI stop?

Did you know that some of the people who failed field sobriety tests were sober at the time? You heard right. For every three sober people (whether here in Pennsylvania or elsewhere) who submit to them during a DUI stop, one of them will fail. Will it be you?

It may surprise you to know that you do not have to participate in those tests. Implied consent applies to the breath test, but not to field sobriety tests. That does not stop police officers from trying to convince drivers that they have to submit to them.

How long does it take to get a divorce in Pennsylvania?

Starting the divorce process can be intimidating for a variety of reasons, but one common worry for married couples who want to split is how long it will take. You may feel that staying married but living separate lives is easier than going through legal proceedings.

However, this approach does not offer financial and parental protection for the family, because informal agreements are not enforceable. The good news is that a divorce in Pennsylvania does not have to take long.

Filing a personal injury claim after a pileup can be complex

Winter weather has arrived in Pennsylvania, and it is wreaking havoc on the roadways. Drivers who fail to take extra precautions due to snowy, icy and slippery roads could end up causing an accident involving multiple vehicles. When the victims decide to exercise their rights to file personal injury claims, they could get complex due to the number of vehicles and drivers involved.

For instance, one Pennsylvania expressway was closed in both directions for a while on a recent Saturday morning due to an accident that ultimately involved at least 15 vehicles. Several people suffered a variety of unknown injuries. One person's injuries were severe enough to require hospital care. At last report, that victim's condition was said to be critical. No further information on the injuries suffered was available.

Will 2018 be a busy year in family law?

According to reports, big changes are coming in the Internal Revenue Code in 2018. One of those changes could mean a busy year for those who work in family law here in Pennsylvania and throughout the country. That's because it appears that the final version of the new tax bill contains a provision that beginning Jan. 1, 2019, those who pay spousal support (alimony) will no longer get a tax break for making those payments.

Currently, alimony payors receive a dollar for dollar deduction from their taxable income, and alimony payees are required to report those payments as income. This tax treatment took some of the "sting" out of paying alimony, and some believe the coming change will make spouses who face providing alimony less amenable to doing so, which could cause further financial difficulties for the spouse who would receive the support. Because of this, more couples could end up in court over this issue.

You may need a family law attorney for more than just divorce

These days, it is difficult to have a friend or family member who has not been through a divorce. This may be the only area of family law with which you are familiar. However, family law encompasses far more than just divorce and the issues of property division and support that go along with it.

It may not be a surprise that child custody and child support issues also fall under this umbrella. Whether or not you were married when you had a child, you could find yourself in need of help with a custody, visitation or support issue. If you or your children become the victim of domestic abuse, you may pursue charges within the criminal justice system. However, you may also find that you could seek protection under Pennsylvania's family laws.

Man faces DUI and other charges after police chase

With today's tense political environment and the media coverage of violence and disharmony across the country, it may be understandable that ordinary citizens are sometimes reluctant to deal with police officers. This may also be a good reason for building a solid defense against criminal charges, even those resulting from a traffic stop. One young man encountered Pennsylvania police on a recent evening and is now facing DUI and other charges.

At approximately 9 p.m., a state police cruiser was driving on a two-lane rural road when a large pickup truck heading in the opposite direction swerved across the solid double line into the officer's path. The officer gave chase, but the driver of the truck did not stop, leading the police for seven miles. Other patrol cars joined the pursuit, finally succeeding in bringing the vehicle to a stop.

Things to know about Pennsylvania's probate process

An executor can utilize a proper estate plan to administer the estate. However, the courts also ensure its proper handling.

In order to create a smooth process, it is important that executors be familiar with the set rules and regulations. There are a few key things to know about the probate process in Pennsylvania.

Revocable trusts are valuable but must be used properly

There are numerous ways in which to use estate planning to protect one's assets. For example, people in Pennsylvania use various trusts and other tools to avoid certain taxes or to protect an heir who has special needs or circumstances. However, trusts cannot always protect one's estate from legitimate creditors.

Earlier this year, Aaron Hernandez, former NFL football player for the New England Patriots, died by his own hand following a conviction for murder. According to Hernandez's attorney, the football star was also more than $1 million in debt despite having earned over $9 million over his pro football career. A judge recently ruled in favor of the attorney who sought confidential information regarding a revocable trust Hernandez reportedly established for his 5-year-old daughter just before his suicide.

Family law: Divorce may mean tough decisions about the home

Pennsylvania couples have many concerns when they decide to divorce. There is great uncertainty ahead, and adjusting to post-divorce life may be a new experience. One area of comfort is often the family home, and there may be disagreements in court over how to divide the equity in that home. In some family law proceedings, one or the other spouse will want to remain in the home, especially if there are children in the marriage.

Staying in the home may retain a bit of familiarity that could be important in this stressful time, but if the house is part of the marital assets, each spouse is entitled to a fair share of the equity. A house is included in the marital assets when it is purchased during the marriage using joint funds and its maintenance is a shared responsibility. Other circumstances may also impact a determination regarding whether or not a house is a marital asset subject to equitable distribution. One spouse may have the ability to buy out the other's equity, and this will require an agreement regarding its value (typically accomplished by getting an appraisal). Typically, the spouse remaining in the home will then have to refinance to remove the other spouse's name from the mortgage.

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