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Pennsylvania Court Discusses Grounds for Suppressing Blood Test Results

Under Pennsylvania law, while motorists suspected of DUI are deemed to consent to breath tests pursuant to the implied consent law, they must provide express consent to submit to a blood test. Such consent must be voluntary and informed, however. If it is not, and a test is administered regardless, there may be grounds for suppressing the results of the test. Recently, in a Pennsylvania DUI case in which the defendant argued his consent to submit to a blood test was not valid due to language barriers, the court explained the grounds for suppressing blood test results. If you are charged with driving while intoxicated in Pennsylvania, it is important to understand your rights, and you should speak with a Pennsylvania DUI defense lawyer.

Factual and Procedural Setting of the Case

It is reported that in January 2020, the defendant was involved in a car accident in which he rear-ended a bus at a railroad crossing. A police officer arrived at the scene, and his dashboard camera recorded the interaction. The officer questioned the defendant, who, despite having difficulty understanding English, provided information about the incident. Despite the officer’s persistent questioning about alcohol consumption, the defendant denied drinking.

Allegedly, the defendant, who is from Russia, presented an international driving permit when asked for his license and explained why he didn’t have a Pennsylvania license. After performing poorly on field sobriety tests, the defendant was arrested for DUI. The defendant consented to a blood test, and the results showed a high level of alcohol in his blood. At trial, the defendant was found guilty of DUI and sentenced to probation. He then appealed.

Grounds for Suppressing Blood Test Results

On appeal, the defendant argued that the trial court erred in denying his motion to suppress the blood test results due to his limited English proficiency, which he contended prevented him from providing valid consent. The court noted that the trial court’s decision relied on testimony from the arresting officers as well as the dashcam video.

Despite the defendant’s claim of language barriers, the court found that he understood English sufficiently to answer questions about the incident. While the defendant followed physical demonstrations rather than verbal instructions during the field sobriety tests, the court attributed this to intoxication rather than a language barrier, as opined by the investing officer.

Considering the totality of circumstances, including the defendant’s comprehension of English, the court determined that his consent to the blood test was knowing, intelligent, and voluntary. Therefore, the court affirmed the trial court’s decision, upholding the defendant’s conviction for DUI.

Meet with a Trusted Pennsylvania DUI Defense Attorney

If you are accused of a DUI offense, there are numerous defenses you may be able to assert, and you should meet with an attorney as soon as possible. Attorney Zachary B. Cooper is a trusted Pennsylvania DUI defense lawyer who can inform you of your options and help you to seek the best outcome available. You can contact him to arrange a confidential and free meeting by filling out the online form or calling (215) 542-0800.