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Pennsylvania Court Upholds Suppression of Blood Test Results in DUI Case

Pursuant to the landmark Supreme Court decision in Birchfield v. North Dakota, the results of blood alcohol tests obtained without a warrant are inadmissible in many cases. Specifically, even if an officer obtained a defendant’s consent prior to the test, the consent will be deemed invalid if it was provided following a warning of increased criminal penalties for refusing to submit. In the wake of Birchfield, courts throughout the country continue to determine when and how the ruling should apply. This was demonstrated in a recent ruling in a Pennsylvania DUI case that was pending when the Birchfield decision was issued. If you are charged with a DUI offense, it is prudent to speak to a trusted Pennsylvania DUI defense attorney to determine your rights.

The History of the Case

It is reported that the defendant struck two pedestrians while driving her vehicle. Police investigating the accident asked her to submit to field sobriety testing. She agreed and performed poorly. She then submitted to a breath test and was arrested for multiple DUI offenses and transported to the police station. When she arrived there, she was read the implied consent warnings and submitted to a blood test.

Allegedly, before the defendant’s hearing, she filed a motion to suppress the results of her blood test based on the Birchfield ruling. The trial court granted the motion, after which the Commonwealth appealed. The issue went through multiple additional rounds of appeals and was ultimately remanded to the Superior Court of Pennsylvania.

Determining Whether a Motion to Suppress Should Be Granted

Upon review, the court explained that the Commonwealth’s position throughout the proceedings was that the good-faith exception to the general rule that fruits of an illegal search and seizure must be precluded should apply. Further, the Commonwealth argued that as the defendant failed to raise a challenge to the validity of the search under the Pennsylvania Constitution, which did not incorporate a good-faith exception to the rule prohibiting the fruits of illegal searches and seizures, she waived the right to argue her BAC results should have been suppressed under Pennsylvania law.

The court noted, though, that in its assessment of the matter, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court held that the Commonwealth waived its challenge to object to the defendant’s failure an objection pursuant to the Pennsylvania Constitution when it failed to object to the trial court’s invocation of the relevant provisions in the initial appeal. Thus, the issue was not properly raised and preserved. In other words, the Commonwealth waived its right to argue that the defendant waived her right to challenge the blood draw under the Pennsylvania Constitution. Based on the foregoing, the trial court’s initial ruling was affirmed.

Meet with an Experienced DUI Defense Attorney in Pennsylvania

If the police obtained a criminal defendant’s blood alcohol content in violation of the defendant’s rights, the results of the test may be suppressed. If you are accused of a DUI crime, you should meet with a lawyer to determine your potential defenses. Zachary B. Cooper is an experienced Pennsylvania DUI defense attorney with the skills and resources needed to help you pursue the best outcome available under the facts of your case. You can reach Mr. Cooper through the online form or at (215) 542-0800 to schedule a conference.