Albright v. Commonwealth, Department of Transportation, Bureau of Driver Licensing, 110719 PACCA, 124 C.D. 2019

Docket Nº:124 C.D. 2019
Opinion Judge:CHRISTINE FIZZANO CANNON JUDGE.
Party Name:Jasmine Albright v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Department of Transportation, Bureau of Driver Licensing, Appellant
Judge Panel:BEFORE: HONORABLE RENÉE COHN JUBELIRER, Judge, HONORABLE P. KEVIN BROBSON, Judge, HONORABLE CHRISTINE FIZZANO CANNON, Judge.
Case Date:November 07, 2019
Court:Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania
 
FREE EXCERPT

Jasmine Albright

v.

Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Department of Transportation, Bureau of Driver Licensing, Appellant

No. 124 C.D. 2019

Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania

November 7, 2019

OPINION NOT REPORTED

Submitted: August 9, 2019

BEFORE: HONORABLE RENÉE COHN JUBELIRER, Judge, HONORABLE P. KEVIN BROBSON, Judge, HONORABLE CHRISTINE FIZZANO CANNON, Judge.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

CHRISTINE FIZZANO CANNON JUDGE.

The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Department of Transportation, Bureau of Driver Licensing (DOT) appeals from the January 17, 2019 order of the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County (trial court), which sustained the statutory appeal of Jasmine Albright (Licensee) from a 12-month suspension of her operating privilege by DOT pursuant to Section 1547(b)(1)(i) of the Vehicle Code, 75 Pa.C.S. § 1547(b)(1)(i), 1 commonly referred to as the Implied Consent Law, as a result of Licensee's refusal to submit to chemical testing upon her arrest for driving under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance (DUI).2 After review, we reverse.

DOT informed Licensee that her operating privilege would be suspended for 12 months as a result of her refusal to submit to a chemical test of her breath on October 28, 2017. Licensee appealed to the trial court pursuant to Section 1550(a) of the Vehicle Code, 75 Pa.C.S. § 1550(a), 3 and a hearing was held on January 17, 2019, at which Licensee appeared pro se. See Notes of Testimony, January 17, 2019 (N.T.); Reproduced Record (R.R.) at 8a-44a.

Pittsburgh Police Officer Keith Edmonds testified at the hearing. See N.T. at 4-15; R.R. at 11a-22a. Officer Edmonds testified that he was dispatched by 9-1-1 services to the scene of an automobile crash at 1:17 a.m. on the morning of October 28, 2017. N.T. at 5; R.R. at 12a. Upon arriving at the scene, Officer Edmonds observed a vehicle crashed into a wooded area. N.T. at 7; R.R. at 14a. Officer Edmonds explained that, when he approached the vehicle, he observed Licensee, dressed in a bra and no shirt or shoes, sitting alone in the driver's seat, revving the vehicle's engine. N.T. at 7-8; R.R. at 14a-15a. He also observed an open container of alcohol in the cup holder of the vehicle's center console. N.T. at 11; R.R. at 18a.

Officer Edmonds had to help Licensee alight from her vehicle. N.T. at 8; R.R. at 15a. Once Licensee was outside her vehicle, Officer Edmonds noticed a strong odor of alcohol coming from her person, that she had bloodshot eyes, that her speech was slurred, and that her balance was off. N.T. at 8-9; R.R. at 15a-16a. Licensee had no visible cuts, bumps, or bruises, and she declined medical attention. N.T. at 9; R.R. at 16a. Officer Edmonds arrested Licensee for suspicion of DUI. N.T. at 10; R.R. at 17a.

Following the arrest, Officer Edmonds transported Licensee to the police station. N.T. at 11-12; R.R. at 18a-19a. He explained to Licensee that he was transporting her to the station where she would undergo a breathalyzer test. N.T. at 12; R.R. at 19a. Once at the station, Officer Edmonds handed Licensee over to Officer Glenn Aldridge for chemical testing. N.T. at 13; R.R. at 20a.

Officer Aldridge also testified at the hearing. See N.T. at 16-27; R.R. at 23a-34a. Officer Aldridge[4] explained that on the evening in question, the for accuracy in accordance with DOT regulations. N.T. at 17; R.R. at 24a. Officer Aldridge explained that he asked Licensee whether she would submit to a chemical test of her breath and that she originally refused.5 N.T. at 19; R.R. at 26a. After her initial refusal, Officer Aldridge read Licensee the DL-26A form verbatim, in its entirety. N.T. at 20; R.R. at 27a; see also DL-26A Form, R.R. at 42a. The DL-26A form Officer Aldridge read to Licensee states as follows: It is my duty as a police officer to inform you of the following:

1. You are under arrest for driving under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance in violation of Section 3802 of the Vehicle Code.

2. I am requesting that you submit to a chemical test of breath.

3. If you refuse to submit to the breath test, your operating privilege will be suspended for at least 12 months. If you previously refused a chemical test or were previously convicted of driving under the influence, you will be suspended for up to 18 months. In addition, if you refuse to submit to the breath test, and you are convicted of violating Section 3802(a)(1) (relating to impaired driving) of the Vehicle Code, then because of your refusal, you will be subject to more severe penalties set forth in Section 3802(c) (relating to penalties) of the Vehicle Code. These are the same penalties that would be imposed if you were convicted of driving with the highest rate of alcohol, which include a minimum of 72 consecutive hours in jail and a minimum fine of $1, 000.00, up to a maximum of five years in jail and a maximum fine of $10, 000.00.

4. You have no right to speak with an attorney or anyone else before deciding whether to submit to testing. If you request to speak with an attorney or anyone else after being provided these warnings or you...

To continue reading

FREE SIGN UP