A Florida man was recently arrested and charged with Driving Under the Influence after he was operating his motorized wheelchair and allegedly blocking multiple lanes of travel on a roadway. I suspect that many people are surprised that a person can be charged with a DUI offense when they were not driving a car or motor vehicle. The DUI law in Pennsylvania, found at 75 Pa.C.S.A. §3802(a)(1), makes it illegal for an individual to "drive, operate or be in actual physical control of the movement of a vehicle after imbibing a sufficient amount of alcohol such that the individual is rendered incapable of safely driving, operating or being in actual physical control of the movement of the vehicle." This means that the Pennsylvania driving under the influence law applies to a person that drives or operates a "vehicle" while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
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.
In the fall of 2014, star Pittsburgh Steeler running back Leveon Bell was charged with a misdemeanor marijuana possession and various drug-DUI charges. Bell was charged after marijuana was found in a vehicle that had been driven by Bell. Bell admitted to having contributed money to purchase the marijuana and to having smoked some of the marijuana earlier in the day, but he denied that he was actually high at the time that he was driving. Bell thought that he was able to legally drive in Pennsylvania and avoid drunk driving charges as long as he was not high while driving. Regrettably for Bell, he was wrong about the law, and ignorance of the law is not a defense.
Drinking on the job is never a good thing, but it is a bit more obvious when you are in charge of cleaning the ice with a Zamboni machine at a high school hockey game. Similar to a typical DUI case, the police were summoned after people noticed erratic driving of the vehicle. While driving erratically on the road means that the vehicle is swerving over the painted lines on the road and almost striking objects, I am not exactly sure what constitutes erratic driving in an ice rink. After the police arrived and conducted their investigation, the man was arrested for suspicion of driving under the influence.
It is my understanding that the Elf on the Shelf may get into some minor trouble from time to time, but such an elf was recently charged with driving under the influence after being found asleep behind the wheel of a running vehicle with its headlights on and music playing. I feel bad for this elf as his costume and the pending DUI case has brought him unwanted national attention, but this case also gives me an opportunity to debunk a misunderstood part of Pennsylvania DUI laws, which is that a person can be charged with drunk driving even if he or she is not actually "driving" a vehicle.
A Rhode Island man may have broken a record by being charged with four separate driving under the influence cases in less than thirty-six hours. The 53-year-old man started the spree after taking a mid-morning Sunday drive, but the drive ended after the man crashed into a SUV that resulted in injuries to two children who were passengers in the SUV. The man was also treated at the hospital, but he was a less-than-exemplary patient after throwing a bottle filled with urine at the staff. The man was charged via summons with drunk driving and released.
Who hasn't seen a video on TV or on YouTube in which a driver hits a mud puddle after a recent storm and splashes a person walking nearby? I do not believe that I have ever done such a thing, but I am sure that I have been tempted when the situation arose. In a recent Lancaster County DUI case, a man drove through a puddle of water, and the water splashed through the open window of a police car. The officer was not in the car at the time but was instead putting flares around the high water area to alert drivers of the danger. According to the online article, the driver ignored the officer's motions to him to stop and continued through the restricted zone. The article states that the officer "tried to light several flares," but it does not state that any flares were actually lit or that any signs regarding the driving hazard had been put in place.
A York County judge recently convicted a man of a twelfth offense of a Pennsylvania DUI charge as well as a third offense of Driving Under Suspension DUI-related. As a DUI defense attorney, I have seen people with 4 to 5 prior DUIs, but 12 was a record for me. Also, when people have multiple prior convictions of drunk driving, a few of the prior offenses tend to be pretty old and occurred when the person was young and dumb. In this case, according to the fox43.com article, the man has had eight of these twelve driving under the influence convictions within the last 10 years. In 2009, the man was sentenced on four DUI incidents and was sent to state prison for a 3 to 15 year sentence. The man would have served at least 3 years in a state prison before being released on parole. The current charge obviously occurred while the man was on state parole, so the man will be returned to a state correctional facility for the parole violation in addition to receiving a sentence on the new case.
A man in Tennessee drove himself to the local county prison to serve a weekend in prison for a driving under the influence conviction, and the problem was that he was driving drunk again. The local police had received a dispatch report that the man was driving on a suspended license and was also driving while intoxicated. The police located the man's vehicle and followed it all the way to the prison parking lot. At that point, the officer met with the man and believed that the man was under the influence of alcohol. The man was then taken into the prison to perform field sobriety tests. After failing the field sobriety tests, the man was arrested and transported to the local hospital for a blood draw. The man was then charged with a second offense of DUI, and the bail was set at $75,000.00. The man was unable to post the bail, so he will remain incarcerated during the pretrial phase of his case.