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Philadelphia Criminal Defense Blog

Avoiding drunk driving over St. Patrick's Day weekend

Law enforcement throughout Pennsylvania will be cracking down on drunk drivers over the St. Patrick's Day holiday weekend. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that on St. Patrick's Day in 2016, drunk drivers caused nearly 40 percent of all fatal motor vehicle accidents. In the first six hours of March 18, drunk drivers were involved in more than two-thirds of all deadly accidents.

St. Patrick's Day is a popular holiday in cities throughout the state with many celebrations and parades. Drivers are warned to watch out for pedestrians who may be under the influence. Law enforcement may be able to take drunk pedestrians into custody as well.

Marijuana in Philadelphia: What to know about marijuana laws

In Philadelphia, marijuana is not legal, but it has been decriminalized. What this means is that it's not necessarily a criminal offense to possess marijuana in the city, but there are still consequences if you get caught.

Marijuana was decriminalized in 2014, but, despite that, the city still collects fines. Thanks to the Small Amounts of Marijuana (SAM) program, people caught with 30 grams or less can get away with a $25 fine. It has been shown that arrests for small amounts of marijuana dropped by around 77 percent only a year after the decriminalization went into effect.

Woman allegedly smuggled drugs into prison in her hair

Authorities at a Pennsylvania prison wondered why there seemed to be an increase in drugs distributed throughout the prison. They claim that a 29-year-old woman had smuggled methamphetamine, cocaine and LSD into the prison in her hair weave.

The 29-year-old woman had originally been charged with two felony theft counts. She was booked into the jail on Jan. 5 after she was unable to make bail. When authorities began to look into the drugs circulating in the prison, two women told them that the woman had been asking them about LSD. They said the woman gave them LSD and told them she had more.

Drug DUIs could be an issue for legal marijuana users

Medical marijuana is legal in the state of Pennsylvania. However, authorities there are concerned that residents may be charged with a DUI even if they are not under the influence of the substance. This is because a driver may be charged with a DUI if any amount of a schedule one drug is found in their system. For those who have medical authority to use marijuana, the law could be problematic.

Lawmakers in the state say that they are committed to finding a balance between enforcing the law and doing so compassionately. A representative from Pennsylvania State Police Troop J did acknowledge that consuming too much marijuana before driving could be hazardous. However, other states have taken action as it relates to those who drive and have permission to use marijuana for legitimate medical purposes. For instance, Arizona has ruled that drivers cannot be convicted of a DUI unless there is proof that they were impaired.

Report: Secret federal surveillance behind many state arrests

The Sixth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantees every criminal defendant the right to confront the witnesses and evidence against them. Other amendments require that any evidence be collected lawfully and that no defendant be convicted without due process of law.

Yet a new report from Human Rights Watch makes the case that state and local law enforcement across the nation have been receiving secret tips from federal agents but concealing the source of the information from the courts and the defense.

Campus-related drinking affects can lead to harsh outcomes

College life typically represents young adults' first time living on their own. Being away from the parents provides a sense of independence and responsibility, plenty of campus and personal opportunities as well as some temptations. The latter can lead to plenty of experimenting including with alcohol.

Drinking has become a ritual for many students, some of whom already had an established habit before arriving at college. Beer-soaked parties and mixers filled with binge drinking are not uncommon. Potential dangers go hand-in-hand with these events.

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