Huntingdon County DUI - Was a Turn Signal Required?
The Client was traveling on Route 305 around 1:30 a.m. in Huntingdon County when a Pennsylvania state trooper began to follow him. As the client approached the intersection with Route 22, Route 305 splits, and those wishing to proceed west on 22 veer to the right while those wishing to proceed east veer to the left. The client followed the roadway by veering to the right, and it was alleged that he did not use a turn signal. The trooper believed that the Client was required to use a turn signal and thereby conducted a traffic stop. During the traffic stop, the trooper conducted a DUI investigation that culminated in the Client's arrest and submission to a blood alcohol concentration test at the hospital. The blood test results evidenced a BAC of .177%. The Client was charged with Driving Under the Influence, in violation of 75 Pa.C.S. § 3802(c), for having a blood alcohol level above a .16%.
Motion to Suppress DUI Evidence Filed
The Client retained experienced Huntingdon County DUI defense attorney Jason S. Dunkle to provide representation. A pretrial motion to suppress was filed and claimed that the trooper did not have probable cause to conduct a traffic stop of the Client's vehicle. More specifically, the suppression argument was that the Client did not "turn" from the roadway, so no turn signal was required by law, thereby the trooper did not have sufficient probable cause to conduct the traffic stop. It was argued that traffic stop violated the Client's constitutional rights to be free of unreasonable searches and seizures as set forth in the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The Huntingdon County trial judge denied the Client's suppression motion, and the Client was convicted of DUI.
Huntingdon DUI Conviction Reversed
An appeal to the Superior Court was filed and it was argued that the trial judge incorrectly denied the Client's suppression motion. After considering the suppression arguments, the Superior Court stated that the Client was not required to use a turn signal because he did not move from one lane of traffic to another, turn onto a new or distinct road, or pull into traffic from a parked position. Since the Client did not violate the turn signal law, the trooper's mistaken belief that the Client violated the law did not support a finding of probable cause to justify the traffic stop. The Superior Court vacated the sentence and reversed the Client's conviction of Driving Under the Influence.