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Spring Mills Teen Suspected of Drug Possession Flees from Pennsylvania State Police During Traffic Stop

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According to an online Centre County news article, a local Penns Valley teen was stopped by the Pennsylvania State Police shortly after midnight in Aaronsburg, but he apparently fled from the police after they discovered that he possessed drugs.  Mere possession of drugs in Pennsylvania is often a misdemeanor offense punishable by up to 1 year in jail, $5,000.00 fine, and suspension of Pennsylvania driving privileges.  Now, what started as probably a relatively minor traffic violation and drug possession case has morphed into additional charges such as Resisting Arrest and Escape.

The flight also does not make much sense because the police had already identified the person, most likely after he voluntarily provided them with his  license or identifying information. The escape from the police gave the Centre County teen freedom in the short term, but, when he is captured and brought before a judge for an Arraignment, his actions are likely to cause a judge to set bail very high because the man would be considered a "flight risk." A high bail means that the man spends the pretrial phase of his case at the Centre County Prison if he in unable to post collateral.

Penn State DUI and Escape Case

A few years ago, I represented a Penn State student that found himself in a similar situation. The student had been stopped for some minor traffic violation by a Ferguson Township police officer. During the traffic stop, the officer smelled the odor of alcohol on the client's breath, so he supected that the client may have been driving under the influence in State College.  The officer had the client exit the vehicle and requested that he perform Field Sobriety Tests. After the client failed the tests, the officer was about to arrest my client for driving under the influence when my client ran away, leaving his car and his Pennsylvania photo driver's license with the officer. I suspect that the alcohol was a factor in the poor driving that led to the traffic stop and was a factor in the poor decision to run from the police.

The good news is that the student contacted me the next day, and we contacted the officer immediately to apologize and accept responsibility for what had transpired. While my client's escape from the officer did prevent the officer from having my client submit to a chemical test to determine the level of alcohol in my client's system, the officer's interaction with my client, including the Field Sobriety Tests, gave the officer sufficient evidence to file a DUI-General Impairment charge. I was also able to convince the officer that a felony charge of Fleeing and Eluding was not appropriate because the client had actually stopped and submitted to police authority initially. The appropriate charge was a misdemeanor offense of Escape.

ARD Program for DUI Offenders

By avoiding the filing of the felony Fleeing and Eluding charge, and by apologizing to the officer, the Penn State student was approved to participate in the Centre County ARD program. After he successfully completed the program, I was able to have the criminal charges dismissed and then expunged from his criminal record.   However, a notation of the DUI charge will remain on his Pennsylvania driving record for the next 10 years. If he were to be charged with another DUI within 10 years of the date of his ARD placement, the new offense would be considered a second offense based upon the prior participation in ARD.

Hopefully, the young man in this case comes to his senses, hires an experienced Centre County criminal defense attorney, and surrenders to the police. The additional time the police spend trying to find the young man will probably cause the police and the Centre County District Attorney to take a harsher stance in trying to resolve the case.

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