Drunk Man Ratted Out by Pet Parrot at DUI Checkpoint
Posted in General on January 12, 2015
A Mexico City man was recently stopped at a DUI checkpoint and asked to exit his car, after which the police heard a voice informing them that the man was drunk. After looking in the vehicle, the police discovered that the man had been ratted out by his pet parrot. The police then conducted a routine driving under the influence investigation and had the driver perform field sobriety tests. After the man failed to perform the tests to the satisfaction of the police, he was arrested for drunk driving and transported to a police holding cell. It is unknown whether or not the police gave the parrot a cracker for its cooperation, but the police did permit the parrot to remain with its owner in the holding cell to avoid any separation issues. I just wonder how happy the man was to be incarcerated with his snitching parrot.Everyone has heard of Miranda warnings that a person has the right to remain silent, and criminal defense lawyers always tell people that they should exercise that right and keep their mouths shut, but what does a person do to keep their pet parrot quiet?
Intoxication Testimony Does Not Require Expert Witness
I am sure that everyone realizes that the police could not actually use the statement of the parrot against the driver in court. However, many people mistakenly believe that the police must have blood or breath test evidence in order to prove that a person is intoxicated or drunk in cases such as DUI, Underage Drinking, or Public Drunkenness. In Pennsylvania, the law does not require either expert testimony or scientific evidence to prove that a person had been drinking. Instead, a common person is permitted to testify that he or she noticed signs of intoxication about a person, such as the odor of alcohol on breath, difficulty standing or swaying, bloodshot or glassy eyes, or slurred speech. In State College Underage Drinking cases involving Penn State students, the police routinely do not administer breath tests, blood test, or field sobriety tests. In my opinion, the Superior Court in the case of Commonwealth v. Downey stated that breath test results are not admissible in Pennsylvania Underage Drinking summary hearings IF the defense makes the appropriate objection at trial.
In most summary hearings for Underage Drinking and Public Drunkenness, the investigating officers appear in court before a district judge and testify that the officer noticed intoxication indicators, like those referenced above, and the judge routinely finds the University Park or Altoona student guilty of Underage Drinking. The intoxication indicators like bloodshot eyes and slurred speech are often sufficient circumstantial evidence that the student had been drinking alcohol.
Breath Tests Are Admissible in DUI Cases
Portable or preliminary breath tests, commonly referred to as a “PBT,” are often used in driving under the influence investigations to determine whether or not the officer has probable cause to arrest the suspected drunk driver. At a future hearing, the officer is not permitted to give the precise reading on the PBT but instead is only permitted to testify whether the breath test was “positive” for the presence of alcohol. A person that is stopped for a Pennsylvania DUI charge is not required to submit to a PBT or perform field sobriety tests, and most experienced drunk driving defense attorneys recommend that a person not submit to any voluntary sobriety testing. Whether or not to submit to a blood test or a more technical breath test to determine a more exact alcohol level is a different issue and would need to be discussed in another long article, but a person should not submit to a PBT or field sobriety tests.