Articles Posted in DUI Trial

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While most people are aware that they can be charged with DUI crimes for driving with a blood-alcohol level of .08% or higher, many are unaware that in Pennsylvania, DUIs are categorized by alcohol levels. As such, people who have higher blood alcohol levels at the time of their arrests face more significant penalties. In a recent Pennsylvania ruling, a court discussed what evidence is needed to establish a defendant’s guilt for DUI at the highest rate of alcohol, in a case in which the defendant argued the Commonwealth lacked sufficient evidence to convict him. If you are accused of a DUI offense, you should confer with a Pennsylvania DUI defense attorney to assess your options for seeking a fair outcome.

The Defendant’s Arrest

It is reported that police officers were positioned in the parking lot of a convenience store around the time bars let out. They noticed a car that was parked outside of the dedicated lines, and when they approached the vehicle, they observed the defendant slumped over in the driver’s seat. One of the officers shook the defendant to wake him and noted the defendant smelled of alcohol and had slurred speech.

Allegedly, when the officers questioned the defendant, it took him several attempts to state his address. He admitted consuming alcohol, and his keys were in the ignition of his vehicle. Based on the foregoing, the officers asked him to submit to field sobriety testing, which he failed. He was arrested, and a blood test revealed his blood-alcohol level to be .211%. He was charged with DUI – highest rate of alcohol and convicted following a bench trial. He then appealed. Continue reading

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Under Pennsylvania law, anyone charged with a DUI has the right to be defended by competent counsel. While criminal defendants can waive the right to counsel, the waiver must be made after they are properly apprised of their rights. Otherwise, it may be invalid. What constitutes a valid waiver was discussed by a Pennsylvania court in a recent ruling in which a DUI defendant’s sentence was vacated due to the fact that he was not represented by an attorney during part of the proceedings. If you live in Pennsylvania and are charged with a DUI offense, it is advisable to speak to a dedicated Pennsylvania DUI attorney to discuss your rights.

The Alleged Offense and Subsequent Hearings

It is reported that the defendant was stopped by police due to suspicion of DUI. Following the stop, he was placed under arrest and transported to a hospital to undergo a blood test. He was charged with DUI highest rate of alcohol and DUI general impairment. The defendant, who was not represented by an attorney, filed a motion prior to trial in which he argued that the statements he made to police during the investigation and the results of his blood test should be suppressed. The court held a hearing on the matter but ultimately dismissed the defendant’s motion.

Allegedly, after the court dismissed the defendant’s motion, the defendant signed a waiver of counsel form. The form stated that the court conducted a colloquy with the defendant and determined that he had made an intelligent, knowing, and voluntary waiver of the right to be represented by an attorney. The defendant was found guilty and sentenced, after which he appealed, arguing the court erred in denying his motion to suppress.

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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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DUI defendants have numerous rights under the state and federal constitutions, including the right to a speedy trial. As demonstrated in a recent case, if the Commonwealth fails to prosecute a case in a timely manner, it can result in a dismissal of all charges. If you are charged with a DUI in Pennsylvania, it is prudent to speak with a skillful Pennsylvania DUI defense attorney regarding your rights.

Factual and Procedural Background

It is reported that the defendant was charged in January 2017 with DUI, driving with a suspended license and unauthorized use of a motor vehicle. The defendant’s preliminary hearing was scheduled for February 2017, but it was continued and later waived. Numerous conferences were scheduled over the next several months, but they were largely continued or unattended by the defendant. A pre-trial conference was held on September 27, 2018, during which the defendant’s attorney made an oral motion arguing that the Commonwealth violated the defendant’s right to a prompt trial. A hearing was held in November 2018, after which the court dismissed the charges against the defendant. The Commonwealth appealed, arguing the trial court erred in dismissing the charges.

Right to a Prompt Trial

Rule 600 of the Pennsylvania Rules of Criminal Procedure provides that a trial must commence within 365 days of when a criminal complaint is filed. It further states that any delays caused by the Commonwealth will be included in calculating the time during which the trial must commence, but any other delays will be excluded. Rule 600 protects the defendant’s right to a speedy trial. Thus, in assessing whether a defendant’s right to a prompt trial has been violated, consideration must be granted to society’s right to an effective prosecution of criminal cases.

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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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Under Pennsylvania law, there are numerous DUI crimes a person can be charged with, including DUI – combined influence of alcohol and drugs. In a recent case decided by the Pennsylvania Superior Court, the court addressed what constitutes sufficient evidence to convict a person of DUI – combined influence. If you reside in Pennsylvania and are charged with a DUI crime it is important to meet with a trusted Pennsylvania DUI defense attorney to discuss your charges and what evidence the Commonwealth may introduce against you at trial.

Facts Surrounding the Defendant’s Arrest

It is reported that at approximately 1:00 pm, while a police officer was conducting an investigation due to a report of erratic driving, he observed the defendant driving down the street. The defendant stopped her vehicle and advised the officer she wanted to speak with him, after which the officer directed the defendant to move her car to the side of the road. When the officer approached the defendant’s vehicle, he noticed a strong odor of alcohol. He asked the defendant to exit her vehicle. The defendant complied and admitted to consuming a beer at 9:30 am.

It is alleged that the officer then asked the defendant to submit to field sobriety testing. During the tests, she showed signs of impairment, but she passed two of the three tests she performed. The defendant then submitted to a blood test. Her BAC was 0.076% and her test results indicated the presence of Diazepam and Nordiazepam in her blood. She was subsequently charged with and convicted of DUI – combined influence. The defendant appealed, arguing that the evidence presented by the Commonwealth was insufficient to prove her impairment beyond a reasonable doubt.

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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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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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If you are stopped for suspicion of a DUI but do not submit to a blood or breath test, the state can nonetheless use circumstantial evidence to charge you with DUI. Typically, in absence of chemical testing, the most detrimental evidence against a DUI suspect is the results of a field sobriety test, which is usually relayed to the court and jury through the testimony of the officer that conducted the test. It is not necessary for the officer testifying regarding the results of the test to be certified as an expert or have actually administered the test, however.

This was recently illustrated in a case in which the Superior Court of Pennsylvania upheld a defendant’s DUI conviction, despite the fact that the officer who testified at trial regarding the results of the field sobriety test was not an expert and had merely observed the test from afar. If you are currently facing Pennsylvania DUI charges, it is prudent to speak with an experienced attorney to discuss what evidence the state may use against you and possible defenses to your charges.

The Defendant’s Accident and Subsequent Charges

Allegedly, the defendant drove through an intersection and struck another car, tearing off the front bumper. A police officer responded to the accident and noticed that the defendant’s speech was slurred and her eyes were red and glossy. The defendant admitted she had been driving and stated she took a muscle relaxant. The officer called for the acting sergeant to administer field sobriety tests. During the test, the defendant was unable to count her steps or maintain her balance, and could not properly blow into the breath test machine. She was then transported to a hospital where she refused to undergo a blood draw. She was subsequently charged with DUI general impairment. During the trial, the officer who originally responded to the accident testified as to the results of the field sobriety test. The defendant was convicted of DUI general impairment, after which she appealed.

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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.

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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