Appeal Suspension of License for Refusal to Submit to Chemical Testing: A Pennsylvania driver appealed the suspension of his driver’s license to the Commonwealth Court of PA, arguing that the trial court lacked sufficient evidence and committed several legal errors. The Commonwealth Court disagreed and affirmed the suspension. Blalock v. Commonwealth, No. 1592 C.D. 2012, opinion (Pa. Commonwealth Court, May 28, 2013). In the order, the court stated that it could only consider whether the trial court abused its discretion, not whether the court got the facts wrong. Since license suspension challenges are a civil proceeding rather than a criminal one, the burden of proof is much lower for the prosecution. Both, the trial court and the Commonwealth Court relied on the arresting officers’ testimony that the driver showed signs of intoxication during the arrest. The police stated that the driver exhibited signs of intoxication DUI, such as slow and deliberate movements, slurred speech, confusion, and a “faint to moderate” smell of alcohol. Appellant failed the field sobriety tests. The officer claimed that he read the Form DL-26 warnings to him, which advise of the consequences of refusing chemical testing, and that he signed the form but refused to submit to tests. The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) suspended appellant’s license for one (1) year, which the law permits if a suspected DUI driver refuses chemical testing. He appealed the matter to the Court of Common Pleas and lost.
Both the Court of Common Pleas and Commonwealth Court affirmed the suspension, finding that PennDOT had proven the 4 required elements: (1) An arrest based on reasonable suspicion that the driver was under the influence of alcohol or an illegal substance; (2) A request to submit to chemical testing; (3) A refusal by the driver; and (4) A warning to the driver that refusal could result in a license suspension.
If you are arrested for DUI, immediately contact Marinaro Law We are experienced, knowledgeable and aggressive counsel that will help you in this time of need. Please contact us online or call us at (717)-397-7055.