A Centre County judge recently presided over a Bellefonte case in which the State College DUI defense attorney filed a motion to suppress and argued that the arresting officer did not have sufficient probable cause to stop his client. In the case, caption Commonwealth v. Lose, CP-14-CR-2014-2014, a Bellefonte detective conducted a traffic stop of the suspect's car because the detective believed that the driver had failed to stop at a red light. During the traffic stop, the detective noticed general signs of intoxication about the driver, such as the odor of alcohol on breath, slurred speech, failure to successfully complete the field sobriety tests, and a positive result on the breath test. Based upon those intoxication indicators, the detective felt that he had probable cause that the man was driving under the influence, so the man was arrested and transported to the Mount Nittany Medical Center for a blood alcohol test. After the test results showed that the man's blood alcohol level was above the legal limit, the drunk driving charges were filed in Bellefonte with the district magistrate judge.
Common sense tells a person that he should not do something to draw the attention of the police if the person is engaging in criminal activity. According to a recent online article, a man was stopped in Centre County after he was found riding a stolen, full-sized John Deere tractor from the Pleasant Gap Uni-Mart, where he had just stopped for a sandwich at approximately 1:30 a.m. The man was stopped as he was heading back towards Jacksonville Road. Driving a stolen tractor is the wee hours of the morning is obviously not a good way to avoid suspicion.
DUI charges are treated as very serious offenses in Pennsylvania as evidenced by the mandatory minimum penalties that must be imposed for convictions. The mandatory minimum penalties often include mandatory periods of incarceration, license suspensions, and fines. The DUI signs that one routinely sees along Pennsylvania roadways that state "DUI - You Can't Afford It" are completely true. The mandatory minimum sentences are primarily based upon two factors: 1) the number of prior offenses; and 2) the blood alcohol level of the DUI suspect. As would be expected, a person that has a higher blood alcohol level or has prior DUI offenses is subject to more severe mandatory minimum penalties.