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Erie man reaches plea agreement in DUI homicide case

The Pennsylvania legislature passed a set of laws in 2004 that specify the minimum sentences for a DUI conviction. The factors that determine the minimum include the defendant's blood-alcohol content, whether the defendant refused to take a Breathalyzer test and whether an accident occurred. A DUI arrest can also result in harsher sentences if the accused has a previous drunk driving conviction.

In order to secure a less severe sentence, defendants are sometimes advised to enter a guilty plea when the evidence is overwhelmingly against them. No matter the severity of the charge, people accused of DUI need to know their rights.

Recently, a man from Pennsylvania pleaded guilty to homicide by vehicle while DUI before an Erie court. Police stated that the defendant ran a stop sign and collided with a vehicle driven by a 24-year-old Erie woman. The woman survived the initial crash but later died of her injuries.

The defendant's blood-alcohol content at the time of the crash was reportedly 0.242 percent, more than three times Pennsylvania's legal limit of 0.08 percent.

The defendant's lawyer (not affiliated with this firm) reported that his client accepts responsibility for his actions. The plea arrangement also involved prosecutors' dropping other charges related to the incident. The defendant is facing a minimum sentence of three years, and the sentencing hearing is scheduled for Oct. 31.

Despite the outcome of this particular case, a defendant who has been accused of DUI is not necessarily guilty, regardless of the alleged evidence; no one deserves to be convicted due to poor police work. All DUI defendants should learn everything they can about their legal rights under Pennsylvania law.

Source:, "Erie man pleads guilty in Jan. fatal DUI," Ed Palattella, Sept. 5, 2012

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