Articles Posted in DUI Appeal

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Many people who are stopped for suspicion of DUI are reluctant to submit to a blood test and believe that if the Commonwealth does not obtain their blood alcohol level, the prosecution will not be able to obtain a conviction. As illustrated in a recent Pennsylvania DUI case, though, such a belief is inaccurate, and a person can be convicted of DUI based on circumstantial evidence alone. If you are charged with a Pennsylvania DUI crime, it is important to understand your rights, and you should meet with a skilled Pennsylvania DUI defense attorney to determine what defenses you may be able to set forth at trial.

The Defendant’s Stop and Arrest

It is alleged that the arresting officer observed the defendant’s car in the corner of a bar parking lot with its hood up. The officer took note of the car because the bar was closed and no one else was in the lot. He then observed the defendant drive the car onto a nearby roadway and proceed to drive erratically. After the defendant almost veered off the road, the officer activated his sirens and stopped him.

Reportedly, the officer noticed that the defendant’s speech was slurred, and his eyes were glassy and bloodshot and that he smelled of alcohol. The defendant admitted to consuming three beers over a six-hour period. He denied that he was intoxicated, however. The officer requested that the defendant submitted to field sobriety testing, but he refused. He was then transported to the police station, where he refused to submit to a blood test. He was then charged with and convicted of driving under the influence – general impairment. Following his conviction, he appealed, arguing there was insufficient evidence to sustain a guilty verdict.

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Although the Pennsylvania statute prohibiting people from operating a vehicle on a public roadway while incapable of doing so safely due to the consumption of alcohol is referred to as a DUI statute, a person does not need to be stopped while driving a vehicle to be convicted of a DUI. Further, as demonstrated in a recent Pennsylvania appellate court case, a defendant can be convicted of a DUI even if he or she was not in or near his or her car at the time of arrest, as long as there is sufficient evidence to establish that the defendant operated the vehicle while impaired due to the consumption of alcohol. If you are accused of committing a DUI offense, it is wise to speak with a trusted Pennsylvania DUI defense attorney regarding what evidence may be introduced against you at trial.

Factual Background

Allegedly, the police responded to a call that a woman was lying in the middle of a road, screaming. They questioned the woman, who reported that the defendant had been driving her home but that he kicked her out of his truck. The police traveled to the defendant’s home and questioned the defendant, who admitted to drinking beer that evening, and that he kicked the woman out of his car. He was arrested for assault and suspicion of DUI. He submitted to a breathalyzer test, which revealed his blood alcohol content (BAC) to be .132%. He was charged with multiple DUI crimes, including DUI general impairment, and was ultimately convicted of DUI general impairment. The defendant appealed, arguing there was insufficient evidence to support his conviction. The appellate court disagreed, however, affirming his conviction.

Evidence Sufficient to Prove a Defendant was Under the Influence of Alcohol

Under Pennsylvania law, if the evidence submitted at trial is sufficient to support the elements of an offense when viewed most favorably to the verdict winner, the verdict will be upheld. The court noted that while a DUI general impairment charge requires the prosecution to prove that the defendant operated a vehicle during a time when the defendant was impaired due to the use of alcohol, it did not require the prosecution to prove that the defendant did not consume any alcohol after he drove.

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Although entrapment is not a defense commonly asserted in DUI cases, that does not mean it is not viable. A defendant alleging entrapment faces a high burden of proof, however, and the defense is often unsuccessful. This was demonstrated in a recent case ruled on by a Pennsylvania appellate court, in which the court found that a DWI defendant failed to produce evidence sufficient to prove entrapment. If you were recently charged with a DUI crime, it is in your best interest to confer with a knowledgeable Pennsylvania DUI attorney to discuss your options for protecting your rights.

Facts of the Case

It is reported that the police were investigating the defendant for another criminal matter and traveled to the defendant’s house to interview him. The defendant was not home, but his son answered the door and used his phone to call the defendant. He was unable to reach the defendant initially, but a few minutes later advised the officer that the defendant was on the phone. The officer spoke with the defendant and asked him where he was, but the defendant refused to disclose his location and hung up the phone.

Allegedly, the officer then advised the defendant’s son that he would seek a warrant if the defendant refused to speak with him. A few minutes later, the defendant’s son reported that the defendant was on his way home. Upon the defendant’s arrival, the officer observed that he was intoxicated and arrested him for DUI. Following a trial, the defendant was found guilty. The defendant appealed, arguing the verdict was against the weight of the evidence of his entrapment defense. Specifically, the defendant argued that the officer directed him to drive home despite the fact that he admitted to drinking.

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In the majority of cases in which a defendant is charged with a DUI offense, the Commonwealth will rely on the results of the defendant’s breathalyzer test as evidence of the defendant’s guilt. Thus, if a defendant can prove that the test was administered via a faulty breathalyzer machine, he or she may be able to argue that the results are inaccurate and, therefore, should be deemed inadmissible.  In a recent case in which a DUI defendant moved to suppress the results of her breathalyzer test, the Superior Court of Pennsylvania discussed regulations governing the use of breathalyzer tests. If you reside in Pennsylvania and are charged with a DUI crime following a breathalyzer test, it is advisable to consult a proficient Pennsylvania DUI attorney to discuss what defenses may be available in your case.

Facts of the Case

It is alleged that the defendant was arrested due to suspicion of DUI. She was transported to the police headquarters, where she submitted to a breathalyzer test. The test indicated her blood alcohol content to be 0.225. She was then charged with DUI – highest rate of alcohol. In an unrelated case, discovery revealed that the breathalyzer device used to administer the defendant’s test produced inconsistent results five months prior to the defendant’s arrest. The device was then removed from service, recalibrated, and retested prior to being placed back into service. No repairs were made on the device.

Reportedly, the defendant filed a motion to suppress the results of her breathalyzer test, arguing that the device should have been repaired before it was placed back into service. The court denied the motion, and the defendant was convicted as charged. She then appealed the court’s denial of her motion to suppress.

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Due to the Supreme Court of the United States’ Ruling in Birchfield v. North Dakota the landscape of DUI law in Pennsylvania and throughout the country continues to change.  In other words, not only have many states modified laws that were deemed unconstitutional, but many convictions have been vacated as well. For example, in a recent case decided by the Superior Court of Pennsylvania, a defendant’s pre-Birchfield DUI conviction was reversed, and his enhanced DUI  sentence was deemed illegal. If you live in Pennsylvania and have a previous DUI conviction or are charged with a DUI offense currently, it is in your best interest to retain a skillful Pennsylvania DUI attorney to aid you in striving to protect your rights.

Factual Background

Allegedly, the defendant was convicted of multiple DUI offenses in 2015, including DUI – refusal of blood testing. He was sentenced to forty-two to eighty-four months imprisonment. He filed post-sentence motions, which were denied. He then appealed setting forth several arguments, including the assertion that the Birchfield ruling required the court to vacate his conviction and deem his enhanced sentence illegal.

Vacating Sentences Post-Birchfield

The court was not persuaded by the defendant’s argument that the trial court made an error in allowing the prosecution to introduce the fact that the defendant refused to submit to a warrantless blood test as evidence of his guilt, noting that it was admissible at trial. The court ruled, however, that the defendant’s conviction for DUI – refusal of blood testing must be vacated. The court stated that at the time of the defendant’s arrest, the refusal to submit to a blood test was not an independent criminal offense. Instead, it was a fact that allowed the court to impose enhanced penalties for the violation of the DUI statute.

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In Pennsylvania, there are numerous DUI offenses a defendant may be charged with committing. For example, a defendant with a blood alcohol level of 0.15% or higher may be charged with driving under the influence – highest rate of alcohol. To prove a defendant is guilty of DUI – highest rate, the Commonwealth must not only prove the defendant’s blood-alcohol level but also that the defendant operated a vehicle within two hours prior to when the blood alcohol level was obtained. In a recent case in which the defendant was charged with DUI – highest rate, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania discussed what evidence is sufficient to establish that a defendant operated a vehicle within the required time period. If you live in Pennsylvania and are charged with DUI – highest rate, it is advisable to meet with a trusted Pennsylvania DUI attorney to assess what evidence the Commonwealth may use against you to establish your guilt.

Facts of the Case and Procedural Background

It is alleged that the police responded to a call that was placed at 11:49 pm regarding a motor vehicle collision. When the police arrived at the scene, they observed the defendant in the back of an ambulance. She smelled like alcohol, had slurred speech, and was missing her shoes. She was transported to a hospital where her blood was drawn, revealing a blood alcohol level of 0.304%. The blood test was conducted at 1:40 am. The defendant was subsequently charged with DUI – highest rate of alcohol.

Reportedly, the defendant filed a motion to have the charge dismissed on the grounds that the Commonwealth could not establish a prima facie case, due to the lapse of time between when the accident occurred and when the defendant’s blood was drawn. The Commonwealth appealed, and the Superior Court reversed the trial court ruling. The defendant then appealed to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.

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It is widely known that the Constitution grants criminal defendants rights against self-incrimination. In other words, a defendant cannot be compelled to make incriminating statements. In many instances, even if a defendant makes statements that would tend to indicate guilt, the statements may be precluded at trial, if the defendant was not properly advised of his or her rights prior to making the statements. The standard for determining when incriminating statements should be precluded were recently discussed in a DUI case in which the defendant was convicted, in part, based on statements he made prior to receiving a Miranda warning. If you are faced with DUI charges, and you made statements to the police during their investigation, it is prudent to meet with a knowledgeable Pennsylvania DUI defense attorney regarding what defenses you may be able to assert to avoid a conviction.

Facts Surrounding the Defendant’s Arrest

It is reported that the defendant was questioned by a police officer after another driver reported that the defendant was allowing his minor daughter to drive and that the defendant was driving erratically. When the police officer approached the defendant’s vehicle, the defendant had a strong odor of alcohol, slurred speech, and was sluggish and uncooperative. The defendant told the officer he was driving and denied his daughter drove the vehicle. The officer then told the defendant that he knew the defendant had a suspended license but had been driving the vehicle regardless, after which the defendant changed his story and denied operating the vehicle. The defendant was arrested, and a blood test revealed his BAC to be .228%.

It is alleged that the defendant was charged with numerous crimes, including DUI. He was convicted of all charges. The defendant then appealed, arguing, among other things, that the trial court erred in refusing to grant his motion to suppress the statements he made to the officer prior to receiving a Miranda warning.

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In most instances in which a person is charged with DUI, it is due to an accident or erratic driving observed by a police officer patrolling the town where the person was arrested. In some cases, however, an officer who receives information regarding an erratic driver may extend his or her investigation outside his or her jurisdiction in order to determine if a driver is in violation of the law. Recently, a Pennsylvania appellate court addressed the issue of whether evidence obtained during a stop effectuated due to observations made by a police officer outside his jurisdiction is admissible in a case in which the defendant was charged with DUI and other traffic offenses.  If you were charged with DUI following a traffic stop, you should meet with a diligent Pennsylvania DUI defense attorney to discuss the evidence that the state is permitted to introduce against you at trial.

Facts Surrounding the Defendant’s Arrest

A police officer patrolling a borough received a dispatch from the county 911 that there was a pickup truck being driven erratically throughout the area. The officer responded to the call and observed a truck matching the 911 description parked in a pull-off area of a nearby street, which was outside the officer’s jurisdiction. When the officer approached the truck, it began to drive away. The officer then followed the truck to a nearby hospital. While he was following the truck, the officer noticed conduct that constituted sufficient cause to initiate a traffic stop within his jurisdiction.

The officer detained the defendant in the hospital parking lot, pending the arrival of a Pennsylvania State Trooper, who also received the call. When the trooper arrived, he noted that the defendant had a strong odor of alcohol and glassy and bloodshot eyes. Additionally, the defendant admitted to drinking all day. The defendant was ultimately arrested and charged with driving with a suspended license, reckless driving, DUI, and other traffic violations. The defendant was found guilty on several counts, after which he appealed.

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The Pennsylvania and Federal constitutions protect a person from being tried or convicted more than once for the same crime. Similarly, Pennsylvania law requires that all charges arising out of a single criminal episode must be joined and tried at the same time. Thus, if the Commonwealth violates the law and tries a defendant for only one of several crimes arising out of an incident, the remaining charges should be dismissed. In other words, if a defendant is charged with a DUI and other traffic violations, but the court holds a hearing on the traffic violation without considering the DUI charges, the DUI charges must be dismissed. The specifics of this rule of law were explained by the Superior Court of Pennsylvania in a recent case in which the defendant moved to dismiss his DUI charges following a conviction for a traffic violation arising out of the same incident. If you are charged with a DUI, it is important to speak with a skilled Pennsylvania DUI defense attorney to assess what defenses you may be able to assert.

Procedural Background

It is alleged that the defendant was arrested in August 2014 following a traffic stop and charged with driving with a suspended license and DUI offenses. He was also issued a citation for operating a vehicle without a license. The municipal court subsequently held a hearing on the traffic violation. The defendant was not present for the hearing and was found guilty in absentia. He then filed a motion to dismiss the remaining charges against him, arguing that allowing him to be tried on the DUI charges would violate both the Pennsylvania and Federal protections against double jeopardy and  Pennsylvania’s compulsory joinder law. The trial court denied the defendant’s motion, after which he appealed. On appeal, the Superior Court affirmed. Following an appeal to the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, the matter was remanded back to the Superior Court for a ruling in accordance with recent rulings.

Pennsylvania Law Requiring Compulsory Joinder

Under Pennsylvania law, if a person is charged with more than one offense arising out of the same conduct or criminal episode, a prosecution for one offense bars prosecution for the remaining offenses. Thus, all charges arising out of the same DUI arrest must be joined for purposes of trial. The court stated that a recent ruling by the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania affirmed that all charges that arise out of a solitary criminal episode must be tried together. Thus, the court vacated the trial court’s order dismissing the defendant’s motion and ordered the remaining charges against the defendant to be dismissed.

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Under Pennsylvania law, if you are convicted of DUI have one or more prior DUI convictions, the law requires the courts to impose increased penalties. It is important to note, however, that only DUI convictions within the past ten years are considered when determining if a DUI defendant has prior convictions. Recently, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania clarified when the ten year period begins to run, in a case in which the defendant appealed his conviction for a second DUI offense.  If you are currently charged with your second DUI offense, it is sensible to confer with an assertive Pennsylvania DUI defense attorney regarding your potential defenses.

Facts of the Case

It is reported that the defendant was arrested in June 2006 for a DUI. He was subsequently convicted in March 2007. He was stopped a second time in July 2016 after an officer observed him repeatedly traveling over the fog line while driving. He was arrested for suspicion of DUI, and a chemical blood test revealed his BAC to be 0.21%. He was then charged with DUI – highest rate of alcohol, which the Commonwealth deemed his second offense. He filed a motion to quash the information, arguing that the Commonwealth incorrectly deemed his charge as a second offense, due to the fact that his previous offense occurred more than ten years prior to his second arrest. The trial court rejected his argument, and the defendant was convicted, after which he appealed.

Calculating the Ten-Year Look-Back Period

The court noted that section (a) of the statute regarding prior offenses deemed a prior offense as a conviction, while section (b), which defined the timing of a prior offense, stated that the prior offense must have occurred within ten years of the date a defendant is sentenced for the second offense. The defendant argued that section (b) overrode section (a), and therefore the ten-year period begins to run on the date the prior offense was committed, not when the defendant was convicted for the prior offense.

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