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Pennsylvania Court Discusses Consent to Chemical Testing in DUI Cases

In most DUI cases, the Commonwealth will rely on the results of a blood or breath test to support the argument that the defendant was operating a vehicle while intoxicated. Under Pennsylvania implied consent law, drivers are deemed to agree to submit to breath tests and can face penalties for refusing to do so. Blood draws taken absent valid consent may constitute unreasonable search and seizures, though, and the results of such tests may be deemed inadmissible. In a recent Pennsylvania opinion issued in a case in which the defendant’s motion to suppress the results of a blood test were denied, a court discussed what constitutes valid and knowing consent to submit to a blood test. If you are charged with a DUI crime based on the results of a blood test, it is prudent to meet with a Pennsylvania DUI defense attorney to evaluate your potential defenses.

The Defendant’s Blood Test

It is reported that the defendant was involved in an accident while driving his motorcycle. The officer investigating the accident found that the defendant’s breath smelled of alcohol, and his demeanor indicated that it was likely that he had consumed a sufficient amount of alcohol to be rendered unable to drive safely. The defendant was transported to the hospital and was given fentanyl on the way there.

Allegedly, once the defendant was at the hospital, his blood was drawn, and testing revealed his BAC to be .096%. He was charged with numerous DUI charges and, prior to trial, filed a motion to suppress the results of the blood test, arguing that he did not provide knowing consent to the test. He was convicted on each count, after which he appealed.

Valid and Knowing Consent to Submit to a Blood Test

Pursuant to Pennsylvania’s implied consent law, a driver is deemed to consent to chemical tests for the purpose of determining his or her blood alcohol content if a police officer has reasonable suspicion that the driver has committed a DUI crime. Imposing criminal penalties on drivers who refuse to submit to a blood test without a warrant violates the Fourth Amendment, however. Thus, the Commonwealth cannot impose additional penalties on drivers that refuse to submit to blood tests.

Like all other searches that require consent, a blood test conducted under the implied consent statute is only exempt from the warrant requirement if the driver voluntarily consents to the test. In the subject case, the court found that the totality of the circumstances surrounding the test indicated that the defendant voluntarily submitted to the blood draw. Thus, the trial court ruling was affirmed.

Meet with an Experienced DUI Defense Attorney in Pennsylvania

People accused of DUI crimes have certain protections under the law, and if their rights were violated in the course of an investigation, they might be able to have the charges against them dismissed. Zachary B. Cooper is an experienced Pennsylvania DUI defense attorney, and if you are charged with a DUI crime, he can inform you of your potential defenses and aid you in pursuing the most favorable results available under the law. You can reach Mr. Cooper via his form online or at (215) 542-0800 to schedule a conference.