How can the police charge me with a DUI when I refused the blood test or when my blood alcohol concentration was below the legal limit?
Being Charged with a DUI
While DUI charges in Centre County are often based upon the amount of alcohol or controlled substances in a person’s blood, Pennsylvania law allows an officer to file a charge that alleges that the DUI suspect had consumed or ingested a sufficient amount of alcohol or controlled substance so that the suspect was rendered incapable of driving safely. In a case in which the DUI suspect refused to submit to a blood test, the officer would not have direct, scientific evidence of the amount of alcohol or controlled substance in the DUI suspect’s blood. The DUI charge that is filed basically claims that the driver was impaired by drugs or too drunk from alcohol to drive safely. So there are two issues or evidentiary requirements: 1) impairment or intoxication; AND 2) unable to drive safely.
Impairment or Intoxication
Without direct evidence, meaning forsenic testing evidence, how does an officer or prosecutor prove drug or alcohol use? Circumstantial evience. With alcohol, the officer will testify that he observed what are often called “general intoxication indicators,” such as slurring of speech, red bloodshot eyes, difficulty standing or walking, swaing while standing, difficulty finding requested paperwork, difficutly exiting the vehicle, and an inability to answer questions properly. With regard to drug use, the officer often notes the same issues, but there may also be admissions from the driver that drugs were recently used, and the officer may have found drugs or drug paraphernalia in the vehicle. Whether or not this type of evidence is sufficient to prove drug or alcohol use is determined by a jury or judge at the time of trial.
Incapable of Driving Safely
In order to prove this requirement, evidence such as a person’s bad driving is often presented. The officer may testify that the driver was crossing over the travel lanes on the road, swerving, an accidnet happened, or the driver committed traffic violations such as going way below the speed limit or failing to use a turn signal. If the driver submitted to field sobriety tests or other testing related to drug and alcohol use, the performance on those tests are admitted into evidence and considered by a judge or jury to determine whether or not a person could drive safely.
Anyone charged with a Pennsylvania DUI should have the case reviewed by an experienced DUI Attorney. At the State College criminal defense firm of JD Law, we offer free case reviews. Email us or give us a call at (814) 689-9139.