Murrysville police recently stopped a man driving with an open can of beer, which is a violation of Pennsylvania law. Did the police stop the man solely for an Open Container violation? Probably not. It is more likely that the police stopped the man because he was driving a lawn mower without any headlights on a roadway outside of Pittsburgh at 1:30 a.m. After being stopped, the man told the police that he was headed to his home in Murrysville, which was 6 ½ miles away. Police smelled the odor of alcohol on the man and ultimately arrested him for suspicion of driving under the influence.
Operation of Motor Vehicles on Road Require License
I have written a few articles about the broad definition of "vehicle" in Pennsylvania, and because the Vehicle Code and traffic laws apply to "vehicles," people can be charged with Pennsylvania bike DUIs. In this situation, I am sure that people are not shocked that the man could be charged with a DUI for riding the lawn mower while drunk. However, because the lawn mower is also a "motor vehicle," the Pennsylvania licensing requirement law found at 75 Pa.C.S.A. 1501(a) requires that the man have a valid license to operate a motor vehicle on a highway or public property. Simply stated, since the man was riding a motor vehicle on a highway, he needed to have a valid license.
Pennsylvania Charge of Driving Under Suspension, 75 Pa.C.S.A. 1543
The man did not have a valid license because it appears to have been suspended for a prior Driving Under Suspension violation and a Pittsburgh DUI from 2011. Because the man's license was suspended for a prior DUI, the suspension will remain DUI-related until he fully restores his license. Here, the man was still under a DUI-related suspension, so the man could be charged with Driving Under Suspension DUI-related, in violation of 75 Pa.C.S.A. 1543(b)(1.1), which prohibits a person from driving while DUI-suspended with an alcohol concentration above .02%. If convicted of this charge, a first offense of driving under suspension DUI-related carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 90 days in jail, $1,000.00 fine, and an additional 12 month suspension of driving privileges.
The man was also charged with DUI for having an alcohol concentration above a .16%, and this charge is in the third or highest tier of DUI penalties in Pennsylvania. I believe that this new charge would be a second offense of driving under the influence, so the man is facing a mandatory minimum sentence of 90 days in jail, $1,500.00 fine, and an 18 month license suspension. The driving under suspension charge is almost as severe as the driving under the influence charge.
With the man facing a severe short-term punishment of a minimum of 6 months in jail and another 2 ½ years of Pennsylvania license suspensions, he should definitely hire an experienced Pittsburgh DUI lawyer to help him through this situation.