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The Superior Court of Pennsylvania recently held that when a sentencing court sentences a DUI defendant to County Intermediate Punishment (“CIP”) pursuant to 42 Pa.C.S. § 9763, the sentencing court is not required to impose a mandatory maximum pursuant to 75 Pa.C.S. § 3804(d).

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In June 2015, Alexis Popielarcheck pled guilty to two counts of Driving Under the Influence (DUI) (Second Offense – Ten Years); 13 counts of Disregard Traffic Lane; Reckless Driving; and Restraint Systems as a result of an August 2014 incident in which she was under the influence of various controlled substances. The court ordered a pre-sentence investigation and modified Popielarcheck’s bail to require inpatient drug and alcohol therapy.

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The Superior Court of Pennsylvania recently upheld an appellant’s DUI conviction, reasoning that the appellant waived his right to counsel by ignoring the trial court’s repeated directions for him to retain counsel.

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On June 21, 2015, Officer Fennell observed appellant William Demenczuk fail to yield to a stop sign. Officer Fennell activated his lights and siren in an attempt to effectuate a traffic stop. Demenczuk did not stop but continued driving to his residence. When Demenczuk exited the vehicle, he began screaming at Officer Fennell, who noticed an odor of alcohol on his breath. After Officer Fennell called for backup, he conducted field sobriety testing. Demenczuk was unable to recite the alphabet and could not complete the finger-to-nose test.

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Last month, Governor Tom Wolf encouraged Pennsylvania’s observance of the National Teen Driver Safety Week. The campaign was designed to motivate teenagers to beware of dangerous distracted driving behaviors — particularly texting and driving.

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PennDOT Secretary Leslie S. Richards said:  “Vehicle crashes are the number one cause of death among teens.” As part of Teen Driver Safety Week, Richards organized an online teen driver safety forum with students from 10 schools. “It is important for all of us to keep an open line of communication with teen drivers and help them to understand that driving is a very complex activity with potentially deadly consequences if safe driving habits are ignored.”

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A.A. (a minor) appealed her adjudication of delinquency on charges of DUI, possession of a controlled substance, possession of drug paraphernalia, and a traffic violation. On appeal, A.A. solely challenged the juvenile court’s denial of her motion to suppress evidence. The Superior Court of Pennsylvania affirmed.

By Ildar Sagdejev (Specious) (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

In January 2015, Sergeant Still of the Halifax Area Regional Police Department was on a routine traffic patrol when he observed a sedan straddling the center yellow lines. He conducted a check on the registration and found that it was expired, and then he initiated a traffic stop.

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In 2015, roughly 5,500 Breathalyzer-enabled interlock devises were installed in Pennsylvania. The devices require drivers to blow clean into a Breathalyzer to start their vehicles. Last month, Governor Tom Wolf signed Senate Bill 290, which amends Title 75 to significantly expand the use of ignition interlock devices for DUI defendants. The bill, whose primary sponsor was Senator John Rafferty (R), will take effect in 2017.car

Breathalyzer-enabled ignition interlock devices prevent motorists from driving while intoxicated. Currently, first-time DUI defendants face a one-year license suspension upon conviction, and ignition interlocks only apply to repeat DUI offenders (drivers with more than one offense in 10 years). Under the new law, first-time DUI offenders with BAC levels of .10 to .15 percent could avoid the current one-year driver’s license suspension by instead seeking an ignition interlock license. The new law renders the devices available to first-time DUI offenders with the requisite BAC.

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The Pennsylvania Superior Court recently rejected an appellant’s contention that her sentencing as a repeat offender for her DUI conviction resulted in ex post facto punishment.

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In January 2015, appellant Kriz Kizak was charged with DUI General Impairment/Incapable of Safe Driving (75 Pa.C.S. § 3802(A)(1)) and DUI Highest Rate of Alcohol (75 Pa.C.S. § 3802(B)) for a December 2014 incident. She pled guilty in May 2015. In July, Kizak was sentenced under the second charge to undergo imprisonment in the Centre County Correctional Facility for a period of not less than 30 days nor more than six months. Kizak was sentenced as a second offender because she was also charged with DUI for an incident that occurred on September 24, 2014. Moreover, Kizak was accepted into the Accelerated Rehabilitation Disposition (ARD) program on the first offense DUI. Kizak filed a post-sentence motion, which was denied.

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Clair Fink was charged with DUI, third-degree murder, and related offenses in May of last year. Driving drunk the wrong direction on Route 30 last spring, Fink head-on collided with a vehicle driven by Ligonier police Lieutenant Eric Eslary, killing him.

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According to police records, Fink and a co-worker had been drinking for hours in their car before driving the wrong direction on Route 30 at around 2 a.m. He and his coworker at  Westmoreland Pool Company were cresting a hill in their van when it crashed into Lieutenant Eslary’s SUV. Lieutenant Eslary was patrolling near Idlewild Park that night.

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The Pennsylvania Superior Court recently reversed and remanded a defendant’s DUI convictions in light of the United States Supreme Court’s holding in Missouri v. McNeely.

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In December 2012, Philadelphia Police Officer Amina Oliver observed defendant Stacey Lane’s vehicle blocking a lane on Loudon Street. Lane exited his car and shouted:  “Stacey Lane got love for Logan.” (Logan is the name of the neighborhood where the incident occurred.) Lane continued to scream at passing cars. Officer Oliver noticed that Lane had dilated pupils, and his body and car smelled strongly of PCP. Oliver called for a police car to take Lane to the hospital.

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A Superior Court of Pennsylvania recently affirmed appellant Ryan O. Langley’s appeal of his convictions of DUI and driving at an unsafe speed. The court upheld prior precedent holding that (1) an information is required to include facts that might increase the penalty when setting forth the essential elements; and (2) a defendant is not entitled to a jury trial for DUI because the Pennsylvania legislature has categorized the violation as petty for the purposes of a defendant’s jury trial rights.

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In November 2013, police responded to a report of a car accident in Lower Merion, Pennsylvania. While investigating the scene, officers spoke with Langley and noticed the odor of alcohol on his breath. After failing field sobriety testing, Langley was placed under arrest for DUI. His BAC was determined to be .092%.

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The Superior Court of Pennsylvania recently quashed Zebrick Hyreshie Jones’s appeal from his DUI judgement as untimely. gavel

In April 2014, Trooper Allar arrived beside a disabled vehicle on the shoulder of I-81. Trooper Allar observed damage to the hood and passenger side of the vehicle and a broken front-passenger window. The appellant was in the process of changing the left rear tire, while his girlfriend remained in the passenger seat. Trooper Allar inquired Jones as to the cause of the accident, to which he replied:  “I slipped and hit a tractor trailer.”

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