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Court Discusses Valid Consent to Blood Testing in Pennsylvania DUI Cases

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.

Valid and Knowing Consent

Under the implied consent statute, drivers are deemed to consent to chemical testing to determine their blood alcohol content. Regardless of the provisions of the implied consent statute, drivers have the right to refuse chemical testing. Therefore, if a driver is stopped for suspicion of DUI, he or she must either submit to testing or face additional penalties for refusing to undergo a blood or breath test. In order for a driver’s consent to submit to chemical testing to be valid, the police officer requesting the test must inform the driver of the consequences of refusing and advise the driver that there is no right to speak to an attorney prior to submitting to the test.

In the subject case, there was no dispute that the police officer asked the defendant to submit to the test without advising him of the consequences of refusal. Thus, the court found that the trial court erred in denying the motion to suppress and reversed the order and remanded the case for a new trial.

Speak with a Capable Pennsylvania DUI Attorney Regarding Your Case

If you are faced with a Pennsylvania DUI charge you should meet with a capable Pennsylvania DUI attorney as soon as possible to discuss your arrest and what information the Commonwealth may be able to use against you at trial. Attorney Zachary B. Cooper is a trusted Pennsylvania DUI defense attorney who will tirelessly pursue a successful outcome on your behalf. Mr. Cooper can be reached through the online form or at (215) 542-0800 to set up a confidential and complimentary meeting to discuss your charges.