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Pennsylvania Court Explains Grounds for Denying a Petition for Post-Conviction Relief in a DUI Case

The law is not static but constantly changes and develops over time through the issuance of statutes or court rulings. In many cases, an intervening change in the law is grounds for overturning a prior conviction. For example, the United States Supreme Court’s relatively recent ruling in Birchfield v. North Dakota changed the landscape of the prosecution of DUI matters in holding that a motorist cannot be considered to have consented to submit to a blood test due to the threat of criminal convictions. Not all post-conviction challenges that new rulings trigger will be granted, though and the denial of post-conviction relief will often be upheld, as demonstrated in a recent Pennsylvania DUI ruling. If you are charged with a DUI offense, it is in your best interest to speak to a skillful Pennsylvania DUI defense lawyer about your options.

The Facts of the Case

It is reported that the defendant struck a bus and two other vehicles while driving in the afternoon. One of the vehicles was thrown into pedestrians, causing them to suffer injuries. Police investigating the incident noticed that while the defendant did not smell of alcohol, he was incoherent because his speech was so slow and slurred, and he had bloodshot eyes. As such, they arrested the defendant and transported him to the hospital, where he was advised of his rights and the consequences of refusing to submit to a blood draw.

Allegedly, he consented to the test, which revealed he was under the influence of multiple narcotics. He was charged with DUI and other crimes and found guilty. He subsequently filed a petition for post-conviction relief, arguing his attorney was ineffective in that he failed to successfully argue for the suppression of the blood draw evidence, especially given the recent ruling in Birchfield. The court denied his petition, and he appealed, arguing that the court erred in issuing a denial without holding an evidentiary hearing.

Grounds for Reversing the Denial of a Petition for Post-Conviction Relief

The appellate court affirmed the trial court ruling. The court explained that a defendant seeking post-conviction relief is not automatically entitled to an evidentiary hearing. Instead, the court may decline to hold a hearing in cases in which the defendant’s claims are patently frivolous and are not supported by the record or any other evidence. In the subject case, the trial court explained in its ruling that it did not err in dismissing the defendant’s petition without a hearing because his claims were based on a misstatement of the law. Thus, the trial court ruling was affirmed.

Consult an Experienced Pennsylvania DUI Defense Attorney

DUI convictions can have lasting consequences, but in some cases, a person found guilty of a DUI crime can seek relief following their conviction. If you are accused of a DUI offense, it is smart to consult an attorney as soon as possible. Zachary B. Cooper is an experienced Pennsylvania DUI defense lawyer who can advise you of your rights and aid you in seeking the best legal outcome available under the facts of your case. You can reach Mr. Cooper via the form online or at (215) 542-0800 to set up a conference.