Articles Posted in Refusal

Published on:

The Superior Court of Pennsylvania recently remanded for re-sentencing an appellant’s DUI conviction because he was subjected to enhanced penalties provided by sections 3803 and 3804 for refusing to provide a blood sample, in contravention of the United States Supreme Court’s recent directive.

test tubes

In the early morning of February 12, 2015, an officer witnessed a driver’s vehicle sideswipe a legally parked car. The officer initiated a traffic stop. When the driver rolled down the vehicle window, a strong odor of alcohol emanated from the vehicle. The officer and his colleague noticed that the driver had red, glassy eyes, and his speech was slurred.

Continue reading

Published on:

In the wake of the Fourth of July, historically known for its high rate of drunk-driving fatalities nationally, Pennsylvania police departments have been enforcing new DUI rules mandated by the recent Supreme Court ruling in Birchfield v. North DakotaSCOTUS

Chief Gleason of the West Goshen Police Department said his officers would start implementing the new rules immediately. They will strive to perfect their procedures for investigating DUIs and making arrests. They plan to continue to pursue drunk drivers vigorously.

Continue reading

Published on:

JoostKorporaal [Public domain, CC0 1.0 (http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/deed.en)], via PixabayPeople who operate vehicles in Pennsylvania have consented to chemical testing, simply by virtue of operating a vehicle, if they are suspected of driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI), according to Pennsylvania law. This applies even if a person is operating a bicycle at the time police seek to perform a chemical test, according to a recent ruling by the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court in Bilka v. Commonwealth. The defendant appealed an 18-month license suspension ordered after he refused to submit to blood testing. He argued that the implied consent law did not apply to him because he was riding a bicycle, which does not require a license, at the time of his arrest. The trial court and Commonwealth Court disagreed and affirmed the license suspension.

A police officer stopped the defendant, who was on a bicycle, shortly before midnight on September 15, 2011. The officer alleged that he observed the defendant run a red light, and that the bicycle lacked the headlight and side reflectors required by law. He claimed that the defendant smelled of alcohol, had slurred speech, and had trouble walking when he got off the bicycle. After the defendant refused to perform field sobriety testing, the officer placed him under arrest. The defendant refused to submit to blood testing, reportedly telling the officer that he could not be arrested for DUI on a bicycle.

Continue reading

Published on:

By Marco C (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia CommonsThe Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania recently considered the appeal of a license suspension for refusal to submit to chemical testing. The defendant in Commonwealth v. Campbell denied that she refused testing, and the record shows that she consented to breath testing and submitted several samples. Rather, she argued that the police did not give her enough opportunity to comply with the testing requirement. The court reviewed the elements that the state must prove in order to prove refusal. It affirmed the trial court’s order, meaning that a driver who agrees to submit to chemical testing could still be charged with refusal.

Police arrested the defendant shortly before midnight on February 12, 2012. The arresting officer administered a portable breath test, which reportedly showed blood alcohol content (BAC) of .18 percent. He concluded that the defendant had been driving under the influence of alcohol, placed her under arrest, and took her to a sheriff’s office with a chemical testing facility.

At the sheriff’s office, a deputy sheriff reportedly read the Implied Consent Law warnings to the defendant “several times,” and the defendant stated that she understood the warnings and agreed to submit to chemical testing. The deputy testified in court that he used a “BAC Data Master” for breath testing. The deputy testified that the defendant failed to perform the test properly, despite his instructions. She allegedly only breathed into the mouthpiece for four to five seconds, which was not enough time to collect a sample. The deputy allowed her to try again, but claimed that the second sample was also insufficient. His supervisor prevented him from giving her a third try. Continue reading

Published on:

See page for author [Public domain], via Wikimedia CommonsA driver appealed the suspension of his driver’s license to the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania, arguing that the trial court lacked sufficient evidence and committed several legal errors. The Commonwealth Court disagreed and affirmed the suspension. Blalock v. Commonwealth, No. 1592 C.D. 2012, opinion (Pa. Commw. Ct., May 28, 2013). In its order, the court stated that it could only consider whether the trial court had abused its discretion, not whether it got the facts wrong. Since license suspension is a civil proceeding rather than a criminal one, the burden of proof is much lower for the state. Both the trial court and the Commonwealth Court relied on the arresting officers’ testimony that the driver showed “signs of intoxication” during the arrest.

The driver’s arrest occurred in the early morning of February 23, 2012. According to witnesses, he was driving down the center of the road when he collided with another vehicle. The other vehicle was allegedly unable to avoid the collision. He continued for another 100 yards, then left his vehicle and ran into the woods. The driver reportedly told police that he swerved to avoid hitting a deer, then ran into the woods to look for the deer. The driver also stated that he hit his head during the collision, and that this injury might have affected his behavior.

Police stated that the driver exhibited signs of intoxication, such as “slow and deliberate” movements and speech, confusion, and a “faint to moderate” smell of alcohol. He allegedly did not perform well on field sobriety tests, and the officers said that he “exhibited no outward signs of injury.” The officers claim that they read the Form DL-26 warnings to him, which advise of the consequences of refusing chemical testing, and that he signed the form and refused to submit to tests. He later pleaded guilty to careless driving and failure to stay in his lane of traffic. The Department of Transportation (DOT) suspended his license for one year, which the law allows if a DUI suspect refuses chemical testing. He appealed to the Court of Common Pleas. Continue reading