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In Pennsylvania, to convict a defendant of DUI – highest rate of alcohol, the Commonwealth must prove, in part, that the defendant had a BAC of at least 0.16%. Even if chemical testing establishes that a defendant’s BAC is 0.16%, however, the Commonwealth should not be able to obtain or sustain a conviction unless it can also prove that the defendant drove within two hours of when his or her BAC was established. The Superior Court of Pennsylvania recently discussed what constitutes sufficient evidence to prove DUI – highest rate of alcohol, in a case in which the defendant’s conviction was overturned due to insufficient evidence. If you are Pennsylvania resident charged with DUI, it is essential to consult a skillful Pennsylvania DUI defense attorney to aid you in developing a strong defense.

Factual Background

Allegedly, around 2:00 am on July 29, 2017, the police were dispatched to an area in which they observed a car stranded in floodwaters and the defendant standing nearby. The police approached the defendant, who stated that he was traveling home from work and stopped to have a few drinks at a nearby bar. After the defendant left the bar to continue driving home, he drove into the flooded area and his car became marooned. The police noticed that the defendant was slurring his speech, had glassy eyes, and an odor of alcohol.

Reportedly, the police then asked the defendant to submit to field sobriety testing and a breath test, both of which he failed. He was then arrested. A subsequent blood test revealed his BAC to be .174. The time of the blood test was 3:15 am. The defendant was charged with DUI – highest rate of alcohol and was convicted following a bench trial. The defendant appealed, arguing the evidence presented by the Commonwealth was insufficient to obtain a conviction.

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It is common knowledge that a criminal defendant cannot be convicted more than once for the same crime. Thus, if a criminal defendant is convicted for multiple crimes arising out of the same act it may constitute double jeopardy in violation of the State and Federal Constitutions. Recently, the Superior Court of Pennsylvania analyzed the issue of whether a sentence for multiple DUI convictions for the same instance of driving while intoxicated violated the defendant’s rights. If you live in Pennsylvania and are charged with a DUI it is crucial to engage an assertive Pennsylvania DUI defense attorney to assist you in protecting your rights.

Factual and Procedural Background of the Case

Reportedly, the defendant was charged with numerous crimes, including three counts of driving under the influence – general impairment. He pleaded guilty to all charges and was sentenced, in part, to six months of probation for the DUI charges. The defendant appealed, arguing that his sentence was illegal due to the fact that he was sentenced for three DUI convictions for one drunk driving incident, in contravention of Pennsylvania law.

Fifth Amendment Right Against Double Jeopardy

On appeal, the defendant argued that his three DUI convictions were almost identical, in that each charge alleged that he drove a vehicle after consuming a sufficient amount of alcohol to render him incapable of driving, operating, or controlling the vehicle safely. As such, he argued that his sentences for two of the convictions must be vacated because they violated the State and Federal Constitutions on double jeopardy grounds. Specifically, the defendant argued that his sentence must be vacated because he could not be subjected to multiple punishments for the same incident of driving under the influence.

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It is not uncommon for Pennsylvania drivers to be charged with DUI following a traffic stop for other alleged traffic violations. The police must have a reasonable basis for conducting a traffic stop, however, and if they lack sufficient cause to stop a driver any evidence recovered during the stop may be inadmissible. Recently, the Superior Court of Pennsylvania addressed what constitutes adequate grounds for effectuating a stop in a case in which a defendant was charged with DUI following a stop for driving unsafely. If you are faced with a DUI charge arising out of a stop for a different alleged traffic violation you should meet with a seasoned Pennsylvania DUI defense attorney to discuss your case and what defenses you may be able to set forth to avoid a conviction.

Factual Background of the Case

Reportedly, the defendant was driving on a Pennsylvania road at 11:00 pm on a Friday evening. A police officer traveling in the opposite direction observed the defendant cross the center line, after which the officer made a U-turn and began following the defendant. The officer reportedly then watched the defendant go over the center line two more times. Additionally, the officer watched the defendant cross over the fog line approximately six or seven times. The officer turned on his patrol lights and stopped the defendant for violating provisions of the Pennsylvania Motor Vehicle Code.

It is alleged that when the officer approached the defendant’s car the defendant was fumbling around, had bloodshot, glassy eyes, and smelled of alcohol. The officer asked the defendant to submit to breath and field sobriety testing, but the defendant refused. Additionally, the defendant reportedly became combative when the officer asked him if he had been drinking that night. The officer ultimately arrested the defendant, who was charged with DUI, general impairment. Prior to his trial, the defendant moved to suppress any evidence obtained during the traffic stop, which the trial court denied. The defendant was convicted, after which he appealed. Continue reading

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Under Pennsylvania’s implied consent law, anyone driving on Pennsylvania roads is presumed to consent to chemical testing. While an individual who is suspected of DUI is permitted to withdraw his or her consent, it can result in civil penalties, such as the loss of his or her license. Recently, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court addressed the issue of whether the provision of the implied consent statute that permits the Commonwealth to introduce evidence of a person’s refusal to submit to a warrantless blood test as proof of knowledge of guilt. If you are charged with a DUI following a refusal to submit to a blood test it is critical to engage an aggressive Pennsylvania DUI defense attorney to assist you in formulating an effective defense.

Facts of the case

Reportedly, the defendant, who was suspected of DUI, was transported to the Lycoming County DUI center. Upon arrival, he was read the PennDOT DL-26 form, after which he refused to submit to a blood draw. He was charged with DUI general impairment. Prior to the trial, the defendant filed a motion to preclude evidence of his refusal to submit to a blood test, which the court denied.

Allegedly, during the trial, the arresting officer testified that the defendant would not submit to a blood test following his arrest. The defendant was convicted after which he filed a motion for reconsideration, arguing that the trial court erred in permitting the Commonwealth to introduce evidence of his refusal to submit to a blood test, arguing that his right to refuse testing was protected by the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution. The trial court granted the motion. The Commonwealth subsequently filed an interlocutory appeal. The Pennsylvania Superior Court reversed and remanded. The defendant then sought review.

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Pennsylvania DUI charges are like any other criminal charge, in that the Commonwealth is required to prove each element of the alleged crime to obtain a conviction. One of the elements that the Commonwealth must prove in DUI cases is that the defendant was in actual physical control of the vehicle. The Superior Court of Pennsylvania recently analyzed the issue of what constitutes physical control in a case in which the defendant appealed his DUI conviction due to the fact he was not driving when he was investigated by the police. If you are charged with a DUI but were not driving your vehicle when you were stopped it is essential to speak with a skilled Pennsylvania DUI defense attorney to discuss what defenses you may be able to set forth to avoid a conviction.

Factual Background

It is alleged that the police observed an SUV parked perpendicular to the roadway at 9:15 pm. The headlights were on and the SUV was running. The back wheels of the SUV were in a ditch. The defendant was standing very close to the SUV and had a key for the SUV in his pocket. There were no other people in proximity to the SUV. The defendant was restrained by the police and arrested and charged with DUI and operating a vehicle without a valid inspection. Following a bench trial, the court found that the defendant was highly intoxicated at the time of his arrest and convicted him of both charges. The defendant appealed.

What Constitutes Physical Control of a Vehicle

The issue on appeal was whether the mere fact that the defendant was intoxicated and in close proximity of the SUV was sufficient to show that he operated the SUV while intoxicated. The court noted that the evidence produced at trial does not have to preclude every possibility of innocence. Further, the court stated that the fact finder is free to believe, all, some, or none of the evidence presented.

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In many Pennsylvania DUI cases, the Commonwealth will rely on the results of a blood test to prove a defendant’s intoxication. Recent changes in the law require a police officer that is investigating a person for suspicion of DUI to obtain a warrant to compel the person to undergo a blood test. The police do not need a warrant, however, if a person voluntarily consents to submit to a blood test. The Superior Court of Pennsylvania recently discussed what constitutes valid consent, in a case in which it overturned the defendant’s DUI conviction for DUI highest rate of alcohol. If you are charged with DUI highest rate of alcohol or another DUI crime it is vital to engage a seasoned Pennsylvania DUI defense attorney to fight to preclude any evidence the Commonwealth should not be permitted to use against you.

Factual Background

Allegedly, a police officer stopped the defendant due to a broken headlight. The officer that stopped the defendant observed an odor of alcohol emanating from the defendant and noticed that his speech was slurred. As such, the officer asked the defendant to exit his vehicle to perform field sobriety tests. The defendant failed the tests and was placed under arrest. The officer then asked the defendant if he was willing to provide a blood sample for blood alcohol testing. The defendant replied, “yes.” The defendant did not ask any additional questions and was not advised that he would face additional penalties if he refused the test.

Reportedly, the defendant’s blood alcohol concentration was 0.232% and he was charged with DUI – highest rate of alcohol and DUI – general impairment. He filed a motion to suppress the result of his blood test on the grounds that his consent was invalid. The court denied his motion, and the defendant was convicted on both counts. He subsequently appealed.
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If you are charged with a Pennsylvania DUI, the Commonwealth is required to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you committed the alleged crime. In DUI cases where the police did not perform chemical testing, the Commonwealth will typically rely on circumstantial evidence to support its case. In a recent case decided by the Superior Court of Pennsylvania, the court discussed what constitutes sufficient evidence to support a conviction of driving under the influence-general impairment. If you are charged with DUI general impairment or any other DUI offense it is crucial to retain a skilled Pennsylvania DUI defense attorney to assist you in formulating a strong defense.

Factual Background of the Case

It is reported that a police officer conducted a traffic stop on the defendant, after observing the defendant drift between the fog line and solid yellow line of a road before turning into an exit of a fast food restaurant that was marked do not enter. Upon approaching the defendant’s vehicle, the officer observed an odor of alcohol coming from the defendant and noted that the defendant’s eyes were glassy and bloodshot. The officer then performed field sobriety testing on the defendant, during which the defendant allegedly exhibited signs of intoxication. Based on the foregoing, the defendant was arrested and charged with DUI general impairment. The case proceeded to a bench trial, after which the defendant was convicted. He subsequently appealed, arguing that there was insufficient evidence to support the court’s guilty verdict and that the verdict was against the weight of the evidence.

Sufficiency of Evidence in a DUI Case

Under Pennsylvania law, when there is sufficient evidence to allow the fact finder to find that each element of a crime has been established beyond a reasonable doubt, a defendant’s claim that there was insufficient evidence must fail. The evidence set forth at trial does not have the preclude the possibility of innocence to be sufficient and the trier of fact is free to believe some, all, or none of the evidence presented. In reviewing whether the evidence is sufficient on appeal, the court must view the evidence in the light most favorable to the successful party and cannot re-evaluate the evidence or substitute its judgment for that of the fact finder.

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The landmark case of Birchfield v. North Dakota was decided by the Supreme Court three years ago but continues to affect the status of Pennsylvania DUI law and the prosecution of DUI cases all over the country. For example, the Superior Court of Pennsylvania recently addressed the issue of whether a blood test consent form that stated that a defendant’s refusal to submit to a blood test could be used as evidence in subsequent proceedings violated the Birchfield holding. If you are charged with a DUI in Pennsylvania and you believed your consent was not properly obtained prior to blood test, it is essential to retain an experienced Pennsylvania DUI defense attorney to help you protect your rights.

Fact Surrounding the Defendant’s Arrest

It is reported that the defendant was stopped at approximately 10:00 am after he passed by police officers at a high rate of speed. The defendant refused to provide the officers with this license and registration, and his eyes were reportedly dilated and bloodshot. He was arrested for suspicion of DUI and transported to the police station for a blood draw. The defendant was read the required warnings, which he signed, and submitted to a blood test. Prior to the trial, he filed a motion asking the court to suppress the results of his blood test, alleging the consent obtained was invalid because the consent form stated that a refusal to submit to testing could be used in subsequent legal proceedings. The court granted the defendant’s motion and the Commonwealth appealed. On appeal, the Superior Court reversed and remanded.

Post-Birchfield Consent to Chemical Testing

Under Pennsylvania law, a defendant’s consent to a search and seizure is only valid when it is knowingly and validly given. The Birchfield holding explained that in the context of a DUI, a driver cannot be deemed to have consented to a blood test when the consent is based on the threat of criminal penalties for refusal. It is important to note, however, the Birchfield ruling only prohibited the imposition of criminal penalties for refusing to consent to a blood test; it did not affect the right to impose civil penalties.
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Under Pennsylvania and federal law, a police officer cannot detain a person without a warrant unless the officer has probable cause. This has been interpreted to mean that an officer cannot stop a vehicle unless the officer observes the driver of the vehicle committing a violation of the Vehicle code or another offense. If a vehicle stop is unconstitutional, any evidence found during the stop should be deemed inadmissible. While some violations clearly provide probable cause for making a vehicle stop, in other cases, it is less clear whether probable cause exists. Recently, the Superior Court of Pennsylvania analyzed whether a police officer had probable cause to stop a vehicle for failing to use a turn signal, in a case where the stop resulted in a DUI charge.  If you are facing Pennsylvania DUI charges and you believe the police lacked probable cause to stop you it is in your best interest to speak with a skilled Pennsylvania DUI defense attorney about your case.

Facts Regarding the Traffic Stop

Allegedly, the defendant was exiting a shopping center parking lot by turning onto a roadway. The defendant failed to use a turn signal prior to turning and was subsequently stopped by a police officer due to the failure to use a turn signal. When the officer was questioning the defendant, the officer reported that he noticed that the defendant was exhibiting signs of intoxication, including uncontrollable laughter, difficulty following instructions, slurred speech, and a strong odor of alcohol. The defendant underwent field sobriety testing, which he failed. He was ultimately charged with DUI-general impairment and DUI-highest rate of alcohol.

It is reported that prior to trial, the defendant filed a motion to suppress, arguing that the officer lacked probable cause to stop his vehicle because a turn signal is not required when turning from a parking lot onto a roadway. The court granted the defendant’s motion, after which the Commonwealth appealed.
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In any Pennsylvania DUI case, the Commonwealth bears the burden of presenting a prima facie case at the preliminary hearing that the defendant committed the crime alleged. In other words, the Commonwealth must show evidence of each element of the crime for the case to proceed. If the Commonwealth is unable to meet this burden, the charges against the defendant will be dismissed. The Superior Court of Pennsylvania recently analyzed what evidence the Commonwealth must produce to present a prima facie case of DUI general impairment, in a case in which the charges against the defendant were dismissed.  If you were recently charged with a Pennsylvania DUI despite a lack of direct evidence or you committed a crime, you should speak with an experienced Pennsylvania DUI defense attorney regarding your available defenses.

Facts Surrounding the Defendant’s Arrest and Subsequent Trial

Allegedly, in May 2016, the police observed the defendant driving with a suspended license at 3:00 am. She was allegedly driving 30 miles over the speed limit, failed to stop at red lights, and almost drove into a police vehicle. After she was stopped the arresting officer noticed that she had glassy, bloodshot, eyes and her speech was slurred. Additionally, the officer claimed that she smelled like alcohol and was unable to walk. She was subsequently arrested but refused to undergo chemical testing.

It is reported that the Commonwealth filed a criminal complaint against the defendant, alleging DUI – general impairment and driving with a suspended license. Further, the complaint alleged that the defendant refused chemical testing and that the Commonwealth would seek an enhanced sentence. A preliminary hearing was held, after which the court dismissed the refusal aspect of the DUI charge. The Commonwealth withdrew and refiled the charges with the refusal enhancement. A preliminary hearing was held, and the trial court found that the Commonwealth failed to show by a preponderance of the evidence that the defendant knowingly refused to submit to chemical testing, and therefore, the Commonwealth could not proceed with the enhanced sentence. The Commonwealth appealed.
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