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Pennsylvania Court Discusses the Admissibility of Evidence in DUI Cases

In Pennsylvania DUI cases, the prosecution carries the burden of proving guilt. Generally, to do so the Commonwealth must introduce testimony from a live witness regarding the results of any chemical testing. They can rely on a written report in lieu of such testimony, unless the defendant objects. If the defendant delays in filing an objection, though, they may waive the right to do so, as explained in a recent Pennsylvania case. If you are accused of operating a vehicle under the influence of intoxicating substances, it is smart to talk to a Pennsylvania DUI defense attorney regarding your rights.

Factual and Procedural Background

It is reported that the defendant was stopped by a police officer for driving with a suspended vehicle registration. Upon contact, the officer detected the odor of alcohol on the defendant and observed signs of impairment, such as slowed speech. Consequently, the officer conducted standard field sobriety tests, which indicated impairment. Based on these observations, the defendant was arrested for suspicion of driving under the influence (DUI) and transported to a hospital for a blood draw.

It is alleged that the subsequent laboratory results confirmed the presence of THC and Delta-9 carboxy THC in his system. Initially charged with DUI-related offenses, the charges were later refined during legal proceedings. After several procedural motions and a bench trial, the defendant was found guilty of DUI charges. The defendant ultimately appealed, arguing that the trial court erred in admitting the laboratory report.

Admissibility of Evidence in DUI Cases

appellate court addressed the defendant’s challenge regarding the admissibility of the forensic laboratory report under Pa.R.Crim.P. 574. This rule allows the admission of such reports in lieu of live testimony, provided proper notice is given and no demand for testimony is made within ten days.

The Commonwealth filed its notice in April 2022, stating the intention to admit the lab report without live testimony unless a timely demand was filed. The notice included a certificate of service confirming mailing to the defendant’s address.

Despite subsequent appointment of counsel and procedural motions, the defendant did not file a written demand within the prescribed time. The court affirmed that the Commonwealth adhered to Rule 574’s requirements, including proper notice and service, which were not disputed by the defendant.

Regarding the defendant’s argument that the court should have accepted late objections or that the Commonwealth failed to sufficiently prove service, the court found these claims unsubstantiated. It emphasized that Rule 574’s procedural requirements were met, and the defendant’s failure to act within the specified timeframe precluded him from challenging the admissibility of the lab report on these grounds.

Therefore, the trial court did not abuse its discretion in admitting the report, and the defendant’s conviction was affirmed based on these findings.

Consult with a Proficient Pennsylvania DUI Defense Lawyer

If you are accused of committing a DUI crime, it is prudent to consult with a lawyer to explore your potential defenses. Lawyer Zachary B. Cooper is a proficient Pennsylvania DUI defense attorney who can evaluate the circumstances surrounding your charges and inform you of your opportunities for pursuing a favorable outcome. You can reach out to him to arrange a complimentary and confidential consultation by completing the online form or dialing (215) 542-0800.