Articles Posted in Reasonable Suspicion

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If the police suspect that a person is driving under the influence of alcohol, they will typically detain them and conduct an investigation. The police do not have the authority to stop people without reasonable suspicion that they are committing a crime, though, and if they do, any evidence obtained during the stop may be inadmissible. In a recent Pennsylvania ruling issued in a DUI case, the court explained the differences between a mere encounter and an investigatory stop, ultimately rejecting the defendant’s argument that the stop in question was unlawful. If you are accused of a DUI offense, it is in your best interest to consult a Pennsylvania DUI defense attorney to assess your potential defenses.

History of the Case

It is alleged that the defendant was charged with multiple DUI crimes. The charges arose out of an encounter in which a police officer observed that she appeared lethargic and had a distant gaze while driving, followed her, and approached her after she parked and exited her car. They engaged in a conversation, and the officer immediately detected the strong smell of alcohol on the defendant’s breath.

It is reported that the defendant performed poorly on field sobriety tests and underwent a blood draw, which revealed a BAC that was three times over the legal limit. Following her charges, the defendant filed a motion asserting that the traffic stop was unlawful and sought to suppress any evidence obtained from it. The trial court denied her motion, and a trial was held on stipulated facts. She was found guilty, and she appealed. Continue reading

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DUI arrests often arise out of traffic stops initiated due to erratic driving. While most people pull over when they see a police car with flashing lights or sirens, some people are unaware that they are being chased and continue driving. Although police are allowed to follow fleeing individuals, there are limits to what they can do to apprehend them in situations involving misdemeanors. The United States Supreme Court affirmed this in a recent ruling issued in a case in which the defendant was charged with a DUI following a warrantless arrest. If you are faced with charges that you committed a DUI crime, it is in your best interest to speak to a Pennsylvania DUI defense lawyer about your options.

The Defendant’s Arrest

It is alleged that the defendant was blaring his horn and listening to loud music while driving. He drove by a police officer, who immediately began following him. In an attempt to compel the defendant to stop, the officer turned on his overhead lights. The defendant kept driving, though, and eventually entered his garage. The officer stopped the defendant’s garage door from closing, stepped into the garage, and began interviewing the defendant. He noticed that the defendant smelled like he had been drinking alcohol and was acting inebriated.

According to reports, the police then asked the defendant to take field sobriety tests. The defendant performed poorly on the tests and was arrested for DWI. Lab tests revealed that his BAC was over three times the legal limit. The defendant asked for the evidence against him to be suppressed, claiming that it was obtained without a warrant, in violation of his Fourth Amendment rights against unreasonable search and seizure. The court refused his motion, and the case went to the Supreme Court following a series of appeals. Continue reading

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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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While it is common knowledge you can be charged with DUI if a police officer directly observes you driving a vehicle under the influence of alcohol, many people are unaware you can be charged with DUI even if the arresting officer did not actually witness you operating a vehicle. In Yencha v. Commonwealth, et al., the court clarified the issue of what constitutes sufficient evidence for charging an individual of driving under the influence of alcohol within the framework of Pennsylvania DUI law.

In Yencha, an officer responded to a call regarding a hit and run accident. When he arrived at the scene, the victim and a witness to the accident both described the vehicle involved in the hit and run and the man driving the vehicle. The witness also provided the license plate number of the vehicle. The officer ran the license plate number and subsequently found the vehicle parked outside of the suspect’s residence. The officer noted the vehicle had front-end damage. The officer spoke with the suspect, who reported his vehicle had been damaged in a previous accident and denied any knowledge of the hit and run accident. The officer noted the suspect had glassy eyes, slurred speech and an odor of alcohol on his breath and requested the suspect undergo a field sobriety test. The suspect refused to undergo any testing. The officer arrested the suspect for suspicion of DUI and being involved in a hit and run. The suspect was transported to the police station, where he again refused to submit to a breath test.

Following a trial, the Department of Transportation (DOT) imposed a one year suspension on the suspect’s license for failure to submit to the breath test. The suspect appealed, arguing the officer did not have reasonable grounds to charge the suspect with DUI and therefore the suspension for failure to submit to a breath test was improper. The trial court sustained the suspect’s appeal and reversed the suspension. The DOT appealed to the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania, arguing the trial court erred when it held the officer did not have reasonable grounds to believe the suspect was driving under the influence of alcohol, and the suspension should be reinstated.

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A driver appealed his March 2016 DUI conviction from the Monroe County Court of Common Pleas. Specifically, he contested the court’s denial of his motion to suppress the results of his blood alcohol content (“BAC”) test, and he challenged the constitutionality of section 1543(b)(2) of Pennsylvania’s vehicle code. The Pennsylvania Superior Court disagreed and affirmed the driver’s convictions.

A state trooper was responding to the reported theft of an all-terrain vehicle (ATV) when he was notified that the complainant had stopped the alleged thief on a nearby road. When the trooper arrived, the driver was standing next to an ATV in the roadway. The complainant was in a truck parked behind the driver’s ATV, and two other state troopers were also present.

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A driver appealed from the March 3, 2016 judgment of sentence the Court of Common Pleas of Dauphin County, finding him guilty of DUI. On appeal, he argued that the trial court erred in finding the arresting officer had a reasonable suspicion to believe he was involved in criminal activity. The Pennsylvania Superior Court disagreed and affirmed the judgment.

On June 24, 2015, an officer was on patrol with his car window down. It was around 1 a.m. when he saw a beige Buick parked in front of 920 High Street. As he drove past, he saw a man talking to the driver and heard a woman yelling and screaming. The woman was seated in the front passenger seat and seemed to be yelling at someone inside the car.

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