While most people are aware that they can be charged with DUI crimes for driving with a blood-alcohol level of .08% or higher, many are unaware that in Pennsylvania, DUIs are categorized by alcohol levels. As such, people who have higher blood alcohol levels at the time of their arrests face more significant penalties. In a recent Pennsylvania ruling, a court discussed what evidence is needed to establish a defendant’s guilt for DUI at the highest rate of alcohol, in a case in which the defendant argued the Commonwealth lacked sufficient evidence to convict him. If you are accused of a DUI offense, you should confer with a Pennsylvania DUI defense attorney to assess your options for seeking a fair outcome.
The Defendant’s Arrest
It is reported that police officers were positioned in the parking lot of a convenience store around the time bars let out. They noticed a car that was parked outside of the dedicated lines, and when they approached the vehicle, they observed the defendant slumped over in the driver’s seat. One of the officers shook the defendant to wake him and noted the defendant smelled of alcohol and had slurred speech.
Allegedly, when the officers questioned the defendant, it took him several attempts to state his address. He admitted consuming alcohol, and his keys were in the ignition of his vehicle. Based on the foregoing, the officers asked him to submit to field sobriety testing, which he failed. He was arrested, and a blood test revealed his blood-alcohol level to be .211%. He was charged with DUI – highest rate of alcohol and convicted following a bench trial. He then appealed.
Evidence of DUI Highest Rate of Alcohol
Under Pennsylvania law, a person can be convicted of DUI – highest rate of alcohol for operating, driving, or physically controlling a motor vehicle after imbibing enough alcohol that his or her BAC reached 0.16% within two hours after driving. On appeal, the defendant argued that there was insufficient evidence to prove that he was operating or in control of his vehicle at the time of his arrest, as required to convict him of the charged offense.
Specifically, he asserted that he was merely sitting in his car at the time of his arrest, and that any number of individuals could have driven it there. The court clarified, however, that the prosecution did not need to demonstrate that the vehicle was in motion to show operation or control. Instead, a determination of a person’s operation or control of a car is based on the totality of circumstances. The appellate court ultimately found that the trial court properly ruled that the defendant was in control of the vehicle at the time of his arrest and affirmed his conviction.
Speak to a Dedicated DUI Defense Attorney in Pennsylvania
A conviction for DUI at the highest rate of alcohol can result in significant criminal and civil penalties. If you are charged with a DUI offense, it is critical to seek legal counsel as soon as possible to weigh your potential defenses. Zachary B. Cooper is a dedicated Pennsylvania DUI defense lawyer with the skills and experience needed to help you fight to protect your rights, and if you hire him, he will work tirelessly on your behalf. You can contact Mr. Cooper through his form online or at (215) 542-0800 to set up a meeting.