Most DUI cases are pretty routine. The defendant is stopped for erratic driving or a traffic violation, the cop smells alcohol and eventually the driver is arrested. I tried a case in The Philadelphia Municipal Court this week which was not the least bit routine. The date was Sunday May 3, 2015. The police alleged that at 7:00 am they found my client slumped, asleep over the steering wheel of a van while her boyfriend was sleeping in the passenger seat. The van was parked in the gas island of a Sunoco station on North Broad Street. The cop claimed that when he approached the car and asked my client to lower the window he smelled a strong odor of alcohol. When he ordered her to exit the vehicle she became belligerent and combative all the while cursing at the cops. He also noticed that she had a bloody lip, which she told him happened at a party she had attended the night before. The police confirmed that my client did not have a drivers license. She was arrested, and charged with DUI.
The Defense version. My client a 21 year old Hispanic woman who stands about 4'6"tall and weighs about 90 pounds dripping wet, testified that she was at her cousin’s house the night before at a fight party, Manny Pacquiao v. Floyd Mayweather, Jr. While at the party she drank several beers. Her boyfriend came from work to pick her up in his company van at about 1 am. He worked at night for an energy company and the young couple intended to go home. My client didn’t have a driver’s license and never drove the van. They stopped at the gas station, shut off the car and pumped the gas. Then the battery died and the car wouldn’t start. They spent hours calling friends and family for help but to no avail. They slept off and on. The station was not equipped with mechanical equipment so they couldn’t help with the battery but the workers did not object to them keeping the car there until help arrived. The boyfriend even walked to the police district and asked for help but was refused on the basis that giving a jump could destroy the on board computers in the police cars. At 7:00 am the police arrive. The boyfriend is sound asleep on the driver’s side and my little girl is awake on the passenger side. When the cop asks her to exit the car she, being young and naive, becomes irate claiming that she wasn’t driving so why should she get out of the car? The situation escalated into her admittedly cursing at the cops, calling them pigs, blaming them for all the police related problems in Baltimore and elsewhere. She also admitted to trying to kick out the window in the back of the police car. As a result her hand cuffs were severely tightened and she got back handed, resulting in the bloody lip. At the PAB, she adamatly refused to submit to a Breathalyzer. We stipulated to the AID Report of Chemical Testing, which clearly states that she refused to take the test, saying several times that she was not the driver and wanted a lawyer! Our case consisted of the cross examination of the officer, who contradicted himself on wether the car was running or not, the testimony of the boyfriend who stated he would never let his unlicensed girlfriend drive his company van, evidence of good character, and the testimony of the defendant. Finally we introduced medical records from her visit the next day at Nazareth hospital showing treatment for wrist and lip contusions. Verdict: Not Guilty!