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Pennsylvania drunk drivers may face criminal charges with DUIs


Driving while under the influence and driving while intoxicated are against the law. Each state has rules and regulations regarding this type of behavior. The state laws determine when someone is considered intoxicated while driving and everyone that drives a motor vehicle is subject to these laws. When a car crash occurs involving a drunk driver and serious injuries result, the person driving drunk and responsible for the accident can be held criminally liable, depending on the facts and circumstances surrounding the accident.

The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania overturned a Superior Court's decision in a drunk driving case stating that the authorities did not have to inform the person suspected of drunk driving that his or her blood- alcohol content results could be used against them criminally. This decision stemmed from a case in which a man got behind the wheel of a car and drove after drinking about eight beers. The man crashed into another vehicle, killing one of the passengers inside the other vehicle and severely injuring the other. At the scene, the authorities tested the man's blood alcohol content and then later that evidence was used in criminal proceedings against the man.

The eventual outcome of the case revealed that the police must ask to test someone's blood alcohol content and then the person can refuse. If, however, the person doesn't refuse, then that evidence is fair game. The courts can use blood alcohol test results to convict a person in a drunk driving case, especially if the accident is fatal.

Knowing and understanding how the law works with respect to testing for drugs and alcohol at a crash site is imperative for those involved directly or indirectly in a drunk driving crash because this information may assist in future court matters.

Source: The Patriot-News, "Cops don't have to tell drivers in crashes that blood tests can be used against them, Pa. Supreme Court says," Matt Miller, Sept. 25, 2013

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