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PA Supreme Court will decide BAC refusal case

Posted by Jeff Millin | Apr 24, 2019 | 0 Comments

In Commonwealth v. Bell, the Superior Court of Pennsylvania found the suspect did not have a constitutional right to refuse to submit to a warrantless blood test and, therefore, the prosecution did not violate his rights by introducing this evidence at trial. The court cited to South Dakota v. Neville, a United States Supreme Court case, which held the right to refuse to submit to chemical testing was not a constitutional right but a right granted by state legislature. Therefore, allowing evidence of said refusal did not violate a suspect's Fifth Amendment or Fourteenth Amendment rights. The Superior Court of Pennsylvania also cited to its own case, Commonwealth v. Graham, in which it similarly held the right to refuse to submit to chemical testing was not a constitutional right. Based on the Neville and Graham rulings, the Superior Court of Pennsylvania held the suspect's rights had not been violated and the prosecution was permitted to introduce evidence of his refusal at trial.

The court found the suspect's reliance on Birchfield to be misplaced, stating that Birchfield did not hold that an individual had a constitutional right to refuse to submit to a blood test, but merely that criminal penalties could not be imposed for failure to submit to a blood test. The court noted, however, that Birchfield expressed approval of the imposition of civil and evidentiary penalties on suspects who refused to submit to a blood test.

The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania recently granted an appeal on the issue of the constitutionality of the evidentiary consequences of the implied consent law. The Supreme Court's ruling is eagerly anticipated, as it will impact the prosecution of Pennsylvania DUI cases going forward and further define the effects of Birchfield.

About the Author

Jeff Millin

For 29 years I have had the pleasure of representing local people who have been seriously injured. Attorney Millin's practice includes extensive experience representing injured victims. His clients include those with claims resulting from workplace injuries, automobile accidents, product liabili...


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