Articles Posted in DUI Appeal

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Simply because a person is charged with a DUI does not mean that they will be found guilty. Rather, to obtain a conviction, the Commonwealth must not only prove the elements of the DUI crime a person is charged with, but it must also prove that the arresting officer had reasonable suspicion a crime was being committed prior to detaining the defendant. What constitutes sufficient evidence of reasonable suspicion was recently discussed by the Superior Court of Pennsylvania in a case in which the defendant was convicted of four counts of DUI.   If you were recently charged with a Pennsylvania DUI offense, it is vital to retain a diligent Pennsylvania DUI defense attorney to assist you in formulating a compelling defense.

Factual Background of the Case

Reportedly, the arresting officer observed the defendant sitting in an idle vehicle with the motor running, but no lights on in the early hours of the morning. The vehicle was on a suburban street that recently experienced several break-ins. When the defendant observed the arresting officer’s car, the defendant moved his vehicle to the end of a nearby cul-de-sac. The officer ran a check on the defendant’s license plate, which was registered in another county. The officer then approached the defendant and questioned him regarding his reasons for being in that neighborhood at that time.

It is alleged that the defendant was charged with four counts of DUI. Prior to trial, the defendant filed a motion to suppress, arguing that the officer did not have reasonable suspicion of criminal activity when he stopped the defendant, and therefore the stop violated the defendant’s constitutional rights. The court denied the defendant’s motion, and he was convicted on all counts, after which he appealed. On appeal, he argued that the arresting officer lacked reasonable suspicion to detain him, and therefore the arrest was improper. The court rejected the defendant’s argument and affirmed his conviction.

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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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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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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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It is a widely known fact that a person who is accused of a crime, such as a DUI, is innocent until proven guilty. In Pennsylvania DUI cases, the rule of corpus delicti places the burden on the State of proving a crime has been committed before a defendant’s admission can be admitted into evidence against as proof of a commission of a crime.  Recently, the Superior Court of Pennsylvania discussed corpus delicti in a DUI case in which it was disputed whether the State had introduced sufficient evidence to allow the defendant’s admission of driving while intoxicated to be admitted into evidence. 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

Reportedly, the defendant was asleep in the passenger seat of his truck when it rolled into the roadway. The defendant was alone in the truck and the keys were in the ignition. The defendant awoke when the police were knocking on the passenger window. The police noticed a strong odor of alcohol on the defendant and his slurred speech. Additionally, the defendant stated he was the driver of the vehicle and that he consumed alcohol. He was subsequently charged with DUI and careless driving.

It is reported that prior to the trial the defendant filed a motion to preclude evidence of his admission of drinking and driving, due to the State’s lack of evidence a crime was committed. The court denied his motion. The defendant was convicted on both counts, after which he appealed. On appeal, the defendant argued that under the rule of corpus delicti, the trial court erred in denying his motion because the State failed to show that it was more likely than not that a crime occurred. Further, he argued there was insufficient evidence to show he was guilty of DUI.

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Under the rights afforded by both the Pennsylvania and Federal constitution, the police cannot subject people to unreasonable searches. Pennsylvania recognizes different types of encounters between the police and citizens, including an investigatory search. As recently discussed in a case in which the Pennsylvania Superior Court overturned a DUI conviction if the police conduct an investigatory search of a person without a reasonable justification of the search, any evidence obtained during the search should be suppressed. If you were charged with a Pennsylvania DUI following an investigatory stop, you should consult a skilled DUI defense attorney to discuss what evidence the State may be able to introduce against you.

The Defendant’s Search and Arrest

Reportedly, a police officer was doing a check of local businesses that were closed for the day, looking for suspicious activity. He observed an SUV enter the parking lot of one of the businesses and pull into a parking space. He pulled his patrol vehicle behind the SUV and activated the red and blue cruise lights. When he approached the vehicle, he observed an odor of alcohol on the defendant and detected that she seemed impaired. He called for backup, and when he looked up the defendant’s driver’s license information, learned her license had been suspended due to a DUI. The defendant failed her field sobriety test and underwent chemical testing.

The defendant was subsequently charged with DUI – general impairment, DUI – highest rate of alcohol, and driving while her license was suspended. Prior to the trial, she filed a motion to suppress any evidence that was obtained during the search on the grounds that the search was illegal. Her motion was denied and she was convicted on all counts, after which she appealed.

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In Pennsylvania law, there are several statutory provisions under which a person can be charged with DUI. While some of the DUI provisions require the Commonwealth to prove a defendant’s blood alcohol level at the time of his or her arrest, a person can be convicted for DUI general impairment based on subjective evidence. The Superior Court of Pennsylvania recently explained what constitutes sufficient evidence of DUI general impairment, in a case in which it affirmed the defendant’s conviction. If you are charged with a Pennsylvania DUI, you should speak with an experienced DUI defense attorney as soon as you can to discuss the facts of your case and possible defenses to your charges.

Facts Surrounding the Defendant’s Arrest

Allegedly, a convenience store manager called the police after a patron whom she believed to be intoxicated got into a van and drove away. A police officer that was located nearby responded to the call within minutes. A traffic stop was initiated and the officer observed that the defendant had bloodshot, glassy eyes and an odor of alcohol. The defendant was swaying and unsteady on his feet and the officer believed he was intoxicated. The officer attempted to have the defendant perform field sobriety tests, but due to oncoming traffic, the tests could not be completed.

It is reported that the defendant was then placed under arrest. He consented to a blood draw which revealed a blood alcohol level of .156 and was positive for THC. The defendant was charged with DUI – general impairment, DUI high rate of alcohol and DUI controlled substances. Following a jury trial, he was convicted on all counts. He appealed, arguing that there was insufficient evidence to prove DUI general impairment.

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The Pennsylvania Motor Vehicle code prohibits drivers from operating, driving, or exercising physical control over a car if they have consumed an amount of alcohol that renders them incapable of doing so safely. Many people assume that if you do not drive a car while intoxicated you cannot be charged with or convicted of a DUI. This is not true, however, as illustrated in Commonwealth v. Winowitch, a recent case in which the Superior Court of Pennsylvania affirmed a DUI conviction where the defendant was not actually driving at the time of his arrest. The court here found that the circumstantial evidence was sufficient to indicate he was exercising control over his car. If you were charged with a DUI, it is in your best interest to retain an experienced Pennsylvania DUI attorney to help you formulate a strong defense to the charges against you.

Facts Surrounding the Defendant’s Arrest

Allegedly, the arresting officer observed the defendant slumped over asleep in the driver’s seat of his car in a parking lot. The car’s dashboard lights were on and the keys were in the ignition and turned to on, but the engine was off and the car was in park. The officer knocked on the car window until the defendant awoke. The officer then reached across the car to remove the keys from the ignition when the defendant removed the key and tossed it onto the passenger seat. The defendant then denied that that key was in the ignition.  The defendant submitted to a field sobriety test, which he failed. He was charged with a DUI and other offenses.

At trial, the defendant stipulated that two hours prior to when the officer approached him, he made a cash withdrawal from an ATM within a bar that was nearby his parked car. The defendant’s counsel argued that because his car was not on when the officer approached him, the defendant was not exercising physical control over the movement of the car and therefore could not be convicted of DUI. The court rejected this argument, and the defendant was convicted of DUI and the other charges against him. He subsequently appealed. On appeal, his conviction was affirmed.

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