Published on:

Pennsylvania Court Discusses Sufficiency of Evidence Needed to Establish DUI – Highest Rate of Alcohol

In Pennsylvania, to convict a defendant of DUI – highest rate of alcohol, the Commonwealth must prove, in part, that the defendant had a BAC of at least 0.16%. Even if chemical testing establishes that a defendant’s BAC is 0.16%, however, the Commonwealth should not be able to obtain or sustain a conviction unless it can also prove that the defendant drove within two hours of when his or her BAC was established. The Superior Court of Pennsylvania recently discussed what constitutes sufficient evidence to prove DUI – highest rate of alcohol, in a case in which the defendant’s conviction was overturned due to insufficient evidence. If you are Pennsylvania resident charged with DUI, it is essential to consult a skillful Pennsylvania DUI defense attorney to aid you in developing a strong defense.

Factual Background

Allegedly, around 2:00 am on July 29, 2017, the police were dispatched to an area in which they observed a car stranded in floodwaters and the defendant standing nearby. The police approached the defendant, who stated that he was traveling home from work and stopped to have a few drinks at a nearby bar. After the defendant left the bar to continue driving home, he drove into the flooded area and his car became marooned. The police noticed that the defendant was slurring his speech, had glassy eyes, and an odor of alcohol.

Reportedly, the police then asked the defendant to submit to field sobriety testing and a breath test, both of which he failed. He was then arrested. A subsequent blood test revealed his BAC to be .174. The time of the blood test was 3:15 am. The defendant was charged with DUI – highest rate of alcohol and was convicted following a bench trial. The defendant appealed, arguing the evidence presented by the Commonwealth was insufficient to obtain a conviction.

Sufficiency of Evidence to Establish DUI – highest rate of alcohol

Under Pennsylvania law, to obtain a conviction for DUI – highest rate of alcohol, the Commonwealth must show that the defendant drove or operated a vehicle after consuming enough alcohol that his or her BAC was 0.16% or higher within two hours after driving. The court noted that in certain cases, in the subject case there was no direct or circumstantial evidence to establish that the defendant operated the car within two hours of his blood test.

Specifically, there was no testimony regarding when the defendant drove the vehicle on the night of his arrest. Further, there was also no testimony establishing that the road where the defendant’s car was stranded that night was so well-traveled that a 911 call would have been made shortly after the car was abandoned. Additionally, the defendant was not in the car when the police arrived. Rather, he was standing under a nearby bridge. Thus, the court found the evidence was insufficient to support the defendant’s conviction and reversed the trial court ruling.

Speak with an Assertive DUI Defense Attorney Regarding Your Charges

If you live in Pennsylvania and are facing DUI charges it is critical to speak with an experienced DUI attorney regarding the circumstances surrounding your arrest and what the Commonwealth must prove to obtain a conviction. Attorney Zachary B. Cooper is a proficient Pennsylvania DUI defense attorney who will aggressively pursue the best possible outcome available under the facts of your case. Mr. Cooper can be reached at (215) 542-0800 or through the form online to schedule a confidential and complimentary consultation regarding your charges.