Under Pennsylvania’s implied consent law, anyone driving on Pennsylvania roads is presumed to consent to chemical testing. While an individual who is suspected of DUI is permitted to withdraw his or her consent, it can result in civil penalties, such as the loss of his or her license. Recently, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court addressed the issue of whether the provision of the implied consent statute that permits the Commonwealth to introduce evidence of a person’s refusal to submit to a warrantless blood test as proof of knowledge of guilt. If you are charged with a DUI following a refusal to submit to a blood test it is critical to engage an aggressive Pennsylvania DUI defense attorney to assist you in formulating an effective defense.
Facts of the case
Reportedly, the defendant, who was suspected of DUI, was transported to the Lycoming County DUI center. Upon arrival, he was read the PennDOT DL-26 form, after which he refused to submit to a blood draw. He was charged with DUI general impairment. Prior to the trial, the defendant filed a motion to preclude evidence of his refusal to submit to a blood test, which the court denied.
Allegedly, during the trial, the arresting officer testified that the defendant would not submit to a blood test following his arrest. The defendant was convicted after which he filed a motion for reconsideration, arguing that the trial court erred in permitting the Commonwealth to introduce evidence of his refusal to submit to a blood test, arguing that his right to refuse testing was protected by the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution. The trial court granted the motion. The Commonwealth subsequently filed an interlocutory appeal. The Pennsylvania Superior Court reversed and remanded. The defendant then sought review.
Admissibility of Evidence of Refusal to Submit to a Blood Test
The court noted that the United States Supreme Court’s ruling in Birchfield v. North Dakota held that a person has a constitutional right to refuse to submit to a warrantless blood test and prohibited criminal prosecution for the refusal to submit to such a test. The court noted, however, that the Birchfield ruling did not prohibit evidentiary consequences of the refusal to submit to such testing. In other words, the court found that while a person is protected by the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution from being forced to undergo unreasonable search and seizures, such as a warrantless blood test, the refusal to submit to a blood test is not afforded Constitutional protection.
Thus, the court found that because the defendant was read the DL-26 form which advised him that he could face penalties for refusing to submit to the test, and he was not subjected to a warrantless blood test after he withdrew his consent, he was not subjected to an unreasonable search and seizure and his Fourth Amendment rights were not violated. As such, the court affirmed the defendant’s conviction.
Discuss your Charges with a Proficient Pennsylvania DUI Defense Attorney
If you are a Pennsylvania resident faced with DUI charges it is essential to meet with a proficient Pennsylvania DUI attorney to discuss your charges and what evidence may be admitted against you at trial. Attorney Zachary B. Cooper is a seasoned Pennsylvania DUI defense attorney who will work diligently to help you strive to protect your liberties. You can contact Mr. Cooper at (215) 542-0800 or via the online form to set up a confidential and free meeting to discuss your case.