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Court Discusses Sufficiency of Evidence in Pennsylvania DUI General Impairment Cases

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.

In the subject case, the court noted that the Commonwealth may meet its burden of proof solely through circumstantial evidence. Viewing the evidence in a light most favorable to the Commonwealth, the court found that there was adequate evidence to support the defendant’s conviction. Specifically, the court noted that a police officer who has observed a defendant’s appearance and conduct is qualified to opine as to whether the defendant was intoxicated and unable to drive safely in a DUI case. The record reflected that the arresting officer testified at trial as to his observations of the defendant during the traffic stop, and the trial court found the officer to be credible. Thus, the appellate court affirmed the trial court’s verdict.

Consult an Experienced Pennsylvania DUI Attorney Regarding Your Case

If you live in Pennsylvania and were charged with a DUI it is essential to consult an experienced  Pennsylvania DUI attorney to discuss what evidence the Commonwealth must present to obtain a conviction.   Attorney Zachary B. Cooper is a trusted Pennsylvania DUI defense attorney who will develop persuasive arguments in your defense to help you seek a favorable outcome. Mr. Cooper can be contacted at (215) 542-0800 or through the online form to schedule a free and confidential meeting regarding your case.