Posts by walterherman

Pennsylvania Mechanics Lien Law and Amendments under Act 142

Posted by on Jun 9, 2017 in Business Law | 0 comments

Pennsylvania Mechanics Lien Law and Amendments under Act 142

Act 142 of 2014 was signed into law in October of 2014 (the “Act”) and made sweeping changes to the Pennsylvania Mechanics Lien Law (the “Lien Law”). The Act provided for a website directory, called the Pennsylvania State Construction Notices Directory found at www.scnd.pa.gov (the “Directory”), for the registration of projects costing over $1.5 million. The Act also created four new types of notices for owners and subcontractors working on any registered project which, unless complied with, would terminate a subcontractor’s lien rights. Although signed into law two years ago, the changes are just now effective because the Directory was recently established. Executive Summary The Act provides owners with additional protections against mechanics liens. The owner must file and subsequently post at the job site a Notice of Commencement with the Directory prior to commencement of any physical work. A subcontractor, to preserve lien rights, must file a Notice of Furnishing with the Directory within 45 days of starting work on the project. A subcontractors’ failure to timely file the Notice of Furnishing with the Directory will result in a forfeiture of the subcontractor’s lien rights. Application and Procedure The Act only applies to “searchable projects”. A “searchable project” under the Lien Law is any private project consisting of the erection and construction, or alteration or repair, of an improvement costing a minimum of $1.5 million. Any project owner may register a “searchable project” with the Directory, although registration is not mandatory. Failure to register a searchable project means the owner cannot use the protections provided by the Act. The Act protects owners by stripping subcontractors of lien rights if they do not comply with outlined filing procedures for work on the searchable project. Once a searchable project is registered with the Directory, the project owner must take the following steps to obtain the protections of the Act: Notice of Commencement: The project owner (or its agent) must file a Notice of Commencement with the Directory prior to commencement of any physical work on the searchable project. The Notice of Commencement is designed to apprise contractors, subcontractors, and labor and material suppliers of information relevant to any lien rights and generally must contain the following: the contractor’s name, address, and email address; the owner’s name, address, and email address; surety and bonding information, where applicable; adequately identify the project and county in which it is located; and provide the identifying number of the project assigned by the Directory. If timely filed, the Notice of Commencement acts to limit the pool of potential lien claimants. If a Notice of Commencement is not timely filed, then the project owner loses this potential claim-limiting tool, but can continue to defend claims under the pre-existing lien rules. Contract language: Any subcontract for work on a searchable project must contain a written notice that failure to file a Notice of Furnishing will result in the loss of lien rights. The Lien Law provides the following express notice language to be included:“A subcontractor that fails to file a Notice of Furnishing on the Department of General Services publicly accessible Internet website as required by the act of August 24, 1963 (P.L. 1175, No. 497), known as the Mechanics’ Lien Law of 1963, may forfeit the right to file a mechanics lien. It is unlawful for a searchable project owner, searchable project owner’s agent, contractor or subcontractor to request, suggest, encourage or require that a subcontractor not file the required notice as required by the Mechanics’ Lien Law of 1963.” Posting: The Notice of Commencement must be conspicuously posted at the searchable project site prior to...

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Being Charged With a DUI: Should I Blow for a Breathalyzer, or Should I Refuse?

Posted by on Jun 15, 2016 in Criminal Law, DUI | 0 comments

Being Charged With a DUI: Should I Blow for a Breathalyzer, or Should I Refuse?

If you are arrested for a DUI, implied consent laws in Pennsylvania mean you need to submit to a breathalyzer, blood alcohol or urine test to determine your blood alcohol level. As long as a police officer lawfully arrests you, the implied consent law in PA states you have granted consent to a chemical test. You can be charged with a DUI without blowing into a breathalyzer. If you refuse to submit to a blood alcohol, urine or breathalyzer test, you can be charged with a DUI, and refusal to test your blood alcohol level will result in an automatic suspension of your license. What Are My Rights? If a police officer has been observing you for at least 20 minutes, he or she can ask you to blow for breathalyzer. You may also be asked to submit to a blood alcohol or urine test within two hours of driving. You can ask for another test if you feel one test has been administered incorrectly or is inaccurate. However, both tests can be used in court. This means if you fail a breathalyzer test and request a blood alcohol test, the blood alcohol test will serve as further evidence against you if it confirms you were over the limit. It’s also important to realize you may not have the right to refuse a breathalyzer or other test, even if you were not technically driving. If you are in a vehicle and over the legal blood alcohol limit, you can be charged with a DUI, even if you’re not actually driving. For example, if you are pulled over but you have the ignition on, you can still be accused of a DUI. Therefore, arguing that you’re not actually operating the vehicle at the time of the DUI arrest is not a defense. What Happens If I Refuse a Test? Under DUI implied consent laws in Pennsylvania, you will automatically have your license suspended. In addition, you will face harsher penalties. If you are found guilty of driving under the influence, even without the proof provided by blood alcohol, breathalyzer or other tests, you will be charged at the highest tier. This means you will be charged as though you have the highest level of blood alcohol possible, even if you only had a few drinks. In other words, you may get a much harsher penalty than if you simply took the test and were found to be above the blood alcohol limit. What Should I Do If an Officer Asks for a Breathalyzer or Urine Test? If you’re accused of a DUI and are asked for a test, it is best to consult an attorney. It may be best to submit to a urine, breathalyzer or blood alcohol test — although this will depend on your specific situation. Keep in mind that you can refuse to take a field sobriety test and instead insist on a breathalyzer, urine or blood alcohol test. Field sobriety tests are more subjective and may be affected by fatigue and other factors. Blood alcohol tests and other chemical tests may be more accurate. Some people worry that submitting to a test will offer police evidence against them. However, even without evidence from these tests, a driver will lose their driving privileges. In addition, conviction can still occur. Police officers can get evidence from witnesses, video evidence from cruisers and police testimony as well as other evidence to prove someone was driving under the influence. If you have been accused of a DUI, contact MPL Law for a consultation. Our attorneys believe one mistake shouldn’t affect...

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Can I Still Drive to Work If I Got a DUI?

Posted by on Jun 7, 2016 in Criminal Law, DUI | 0 comments

Can I Still Drive to Work If I Got a DUI?

“If I have a DUI, can I still drive to work?” At MPL Law, this is one of the questions we get asked most often in DUI cases. While most of us learned in drivers’ education classes that driving is a privilege, for many adults, it becomes a necessity for getting to work, school and other engagements. Losing driving privileges after a DUI or getting a license suspended can result in significant and immediate problems. How will you get to work? How can you keep attending school or going to church? How can you drive your family around or run errands? If you live in a rural area especially, getting around can be extremely difficult. You may have to rely on friends and family for errands, or you may need to spend substantial amounts of money on taxis or other driving services. If I Have a DUI, Can I Drive? A DUI in Pennsylvania will generally result in automatic suspension of your license, meaning you will not be able to drive right away. This can be extremely difficult, especially if you need to work. Although it may be tempting to continue to drive with a suspended license, it is important not to do so. Being caught driving with a suspended license after getting a DUI results even more serious penalties and charges. If your case is before the courts, being caught driving with a suspended license can hurt your case. In addition, if you are in a car accident with a suspended license, you will face additional penalties, fines and legal problems. In some cases, the other driver can file civil charges against you. If you have a DUI and are concerned about your driving privileges, it’s important to consult with an attorney right away. An attorney may be able to help you explore the options that may exist in your case. One option, for example, is a restricted license, also known as a “bread-and-butter” license. Granted by the DMV, this type of license gives you some limited driving privileges. Using this license, for example, you can generally drive to work, school and perhaps church. However, getting this license isn’t always simple. You may need to agree to certain conditions — such as only using the license for specific driving tasks, using an ignition device or only driving during specific hours. It is important to follow all of these restrictions carefully to ensure your restrictive license isn’t revoked. Violating the terms of your restricted license will also result in further penalties. If you have been charged with a DUI, you’ll want to take steps to protect your driving privileges. Your driver’s license can help you earn a living and can help you live your life to the fullest. If you’ve been charged with a DUI, contact MPL Law as soon as possible for a consultation. Our attorneys believe everyone deserves to be heard and receive compassionate support. We don’t believe one mistake defines you, and we work hard to handle the details of your case so we can minimize the impact on your future. Learn About DUI Defense > > photo credit:...

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Should I Tell My Employer If I Got a DUI?

Posted by on May 30, 2016 in Criminal Law, DUI | 0 comments

Should I Tell My Employer If I Got a DUI?

If you’ve been arrested and charged with a DUI, you may have to tell your friends, family and law enforcement about the circumstances surrounding the situation. Lots of people may know about your DUI. Making the decision about whether or not to tell your boss about the charge, however, can be especially nerve-racking. I Got a DUI: Should I Tell My Employer? If you are employed and are charged with drunk driving, your DUI arrest can affect your employment. For example, if you are required to drive to work, you will have to find an alternate form of transport while your license is suspended. If you are required to operate company vehicles at work, your employment contract will generally say you need to disclose all DUI arrests and conviction. One of the first things you’ll want to do if you have been arrested and charged is to read your employment contract. Certain types of employees — including those who drive, pilots, those who work in public office, those who work in schools, military personnel and others — may need to disclose any DUI arrest to their employer. Your specific contract may require you to report your DUI when you are arrested, charged or convicted. It’s important you comply with your employment contract, or you may be fired. One of the reasons employees hesitate to tell their bosses about a DUI is they fear being fired. Unfortunately, employers do have the option of firing someone for a DUI — especially in cases where an employee is required to drive, work with children or work in other high-responsibility professions. A DUI arrest or charge can also affect future career prospects by making you seem like more of a risk for promotions and certain types of positions. Nevertheless, if your employment contract requires it, you will want to share your arrest or conviction with your employer. Before speaking with your employer, you may want to consult with an attorney who can advise you about ways to minimize the impact of a DUI charge on your life in your career. An attorney can represent you if you feel you’re being treated unjustly because of your record. If your work contract doesn’t require you to disclose a DUI arrest or charge, you may have the option of keeping the charge private. Nevertheless, office gossip or your picture in a mug shot can alert your employer and coworkers to your charge. If you are asked directly by your employer whether you have been arrested or charged, it may be best not to lie. Again, consulting with an attorney can help give you a sense of the best ways to proceed in your specific situation. Do I Need to Disclose a DUI When Applying for a Job? Many employers will run a background and criminal check before making a job offer anyway. If your DUI conviction is on your record, they will likely see it. In addition, some employers may ask questions about previous convictions, arrests or other issues. If you are asked these types of questions, it is important to review them carefully. If you are asked whether you have ever been convicted of a crime, for example, but you have never been convicted or the case is still before the courts, you can honestly answer “no.” It is not a crime to avoid listing a DUI on a job application, but it can hurt your prospects to lie if you are asked specifically about DUIs, arrests or convictions. Getting Support It can be daunting to face a DUI charge, arrest or conviction. If you...

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I Got a DUI While Underage: Will It Stay on My Record as an Adult?

Posted by on May 24, 2016 in Criminal Law, DUI | 0 comments

I Got a DUI While Underage: Will It Stay on My Record as an Adult?

Getting a DUI when under 21 years of age is not difficult in Pennsylvania. The state has very strict laws that make it illegal for drivers under the age of 21 to have any alcohol in their system. You can be charged with underage DUI even if your blood alcohol level is well below 0.80 — the legal limit for adults. If you have been drinking at all, you may be charged with a DUI – in fact, even cough syrup containing alcohol could be enough to get you a DUI charge. Unfortunately, mistakes you make when you’re young can stay with you and even remain on your record as an adult. It’s important to act quickly if you are under the age of 21 years old and have been charged with a DUI. If a DUI charge is still on your record as an adult, there are steps you can take to minimize the damage. Get Underage DUI Representation >> What Kinds of Penalties Might I Face for an Underage DUI? In Pennsylvania, penalties are strict. You will generally face an automatic driver’s license suspension of at least six months. The other punishments you may face may depend on your age. If you are under the age of 18 and are charged with a DUI, you will be charged under Pennsylvania Juvenile Act, and you may be asked to pay a fine, serve probation or even be sent to an institution for juvenile offenders. If you’re under 21 but over 18 when you’re charged with a DUI, for a first offense, you will get an automatic prison term of at least 48 hours. You will also need to pay fines of between $500 and $5,000. The sentencing judge in your case may impose alcohol treatment or drug treatment requirements, and you may have to attend a safety school or classes as well. In addition, you may be asked to serve no more than 150 hours of community service. For subsequent convictions, the penalties will be even stricter. How Will My Adult Life Be Affected If I Got a DUI When I Was 17? If you are charged with a DUI as a minor, your penalties will not end when you finish community service, jail time or the other penalties meted out to you. Instead, you may find your adult life is significantly affected by an underage DUI you got when you were 16, 17, 18 or older. Your DUI may mean: You lose out on scholarships You lose friends, or your relationship with family is strained You have a hard time securing loans You have a hard time getting apartments Your job prospects are more limited Any time someone runs a background check on you for employment or other purposes, they may see that DUI charge — even if it happened long ago. What Can Be Done About My Underage DUI? If you have just been arrested and charged for underage DUI, contact MPL Law for a consultation. We can work to minimize the impact on your life and get your sentence reduced. In some cases, it may even be possible to get probation before judgment. This is where a judge essentially gives you a second chance and no permanent mark appears on your record. If your underage DUI happened some time ago and is on your permanent record, there may be options available for you as well. For example, you may want to consider expunging your record, which will erase the DUI from your record. The attorneys at MPL Law can advise you as to whether this...

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