PA senate votes to ignore the presumption of innocence

When is a person guilty of a crime?  When they are charged by a police officer, or when they are convicted beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law after due process?

We all would like to believe the latter is true. Unfortunately that is not always the case.

Pa. Senate votes to close DUI loophole


The Pennsylvania Senate has voted to close a loophole that allows drunk drivers to avoid tougher penalties for repeat violations.

Senate Bill 1239 was approved Thursday and sent to Governor Tom Corbett for his signature.

The legislation allows prosecutors to charge drunk driving suspects as repeat offenders if they are re-arrested for DUI before they are convicted for the first offense.

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This legislation ASSUMES that the driver is guilty of the first charge without trying them in a court of law.  This flies in the face of the presumption of innocence.  Take this scenario for example:

A driver is arrested for DUI.  The police officer made a mistake in arresting that driver who was not drunk at all.  False arrests happen all the time.

That driver, knowing full well that he was innocent decides to fight the case.  In Pennsylvania a DUI case can easily take eight months to a year to resolve.  In this interim he is arrested again.  He will now be charged with a second offense, with higher penalties, fines, jail time and license suspension- even though he never committed a first offense and the police were wrong?!

This legislation opens the door for people to be charged with a more severe crime unfairly.  The politicians who put this together obviously did not think this through the whole way or if they did, they just do not care about our constitution. Sad.


Justin McShane

PA DUI attorney Justin J. McShane is the President/CEO of The McShane Firm, LLC - Pennsylvania's top criminal law and DUI law firm. He is the highest rated DUI attorney in PA as rated by Justin McShane is a double Board certified attorney. He is the first and so far the only Pennsylvania attorney to achieve American Bar Association recognized board certification in DUI defense from the National College for DUI Defense, Inc. He is also a Board Certified Criminal Trial Advocate by the National Board of Trial Advocacy, a Pennsylvania Supreme Court Approved Agency.

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