The City of Pittsburgh's recent crackdown on underage drinking, DUI, public intoxication, disorderly conduct and other alcohol-related offenses in the South Side resulted in more than 100 citations and numerous arrests last weekend. The law enforcement blitz - part of Pittsburgh's "Sociable City Plan" - is part of a larger effort to curb some of the wild behavior in neighborhoods that have a lot of nightlife.
The South Side has long been a hotspot for college students in Allegheny County. With so many universities in the area, including the University of Pittsburgh, Duquesne University, Carnegie Mellon University and Robert Morris University, students migrate to areas near their campuses that offer a variety of bars, restaurants and clubs. Given the demographics of areas targed by police, it stands to reason that Pittsburgh college students will be most effected by the increased presence of law enforcement.
Nothing ruins a good party like a court date or - even worse - a cell mate. Expect to see extra police patrols on the South Side and in other college neighborhoods around Pittsburgh. Drink responsibly and make sure you have a sober ride home. Even seemingly minor offenses like DUI, underage drinking or public urination can result in fines, loss of driving privileges, loss of employment opportunities, a permanent criminal record and even jail.
I often work with college students who are facing criminal charges. The legal system can be complicated and overwhelming. That is why I believe that young people charged with alcohol-related offenses should always hire legal representation. An experienced criminal defense attorney can help you understand your rights and explain your options. You may be able to negotiate a plea to a lesser offense that does not result in jail, license suspension or a criminal record. You may be eligible for ARD or Allegheny County's DUI Hotel. You may even be able to challenge your charges based upon Constitutional grounds. One mistake does not necessarily have to change your life. Make sure you have someone on your side who can help you through the court system.