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COMMONWEALTH v. BROWN (03/27/73)

decided: March 27, 1973.

COMMONWEALTH, APPELLANT,
v.
BROWN



Appeal from order of Court of Common Pleas of Bucks County, Nos. 1932 and 1932-1 of 1970, in case of Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Donald R. Brown.

COUNSEL

Martin J. King, Assistant District Attorney, with him Kenneth G. Biehn, District Attorney, for Commonwealth, appellant.

Richard P. McBride, with him William B. Moyer, and Power, Bowen & Valimont, for appellee.

Wright, P. J., Watkins, Jacobs, Hoffman, Spaulding, Cercone, and Packel, JJ. Opinion by Watkins, J. Spaulding, J., concurs in the result. Wright, P. J., dissents.

Author: Watkins

[ 225 Pa. Super. Page 290]

This is an appeal by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania from an order of the Court of Common Pleas of Bucks County suppressing the results of a blood test. The defendant, David R. Brown, was indicted for operating a motor vehicle under the influence of intoxicating liquor and for involuntary manslaughter resulting from an accident.

The question, on appeal, is whether the blood test was administered incident to a lawful arrest and whether it was consented to by the defendant.

The facts are as follows: On November 15, 1970, at about 2:30 a.m., two successive accidents occurred in Hulmeville Borough, Bucks County. The first was a collision between two vehicles in which the defendant was not involved. Subsequently, the vehicle operated by the defendant crashed into the wreckage of the first

[ 225 Pa. Super. Page 291]

    two vehicles. As a result of the second accident, a person named Mitchell was killed.

A police officer of the Borough of Hulmeville, not in uniform, arrived on the scene to investigate the accidents. The officer was advised by a bystander that the defendant had been the operator of the vehicle and that he appeared to be intoxicated. The defendant was not in the automobile and the officer found him standing among the spectators. The officer's opinion based on his observation of the defendant was that he was under the influence. The defendant admitted he had several beers. He placed him under arrest for operating a motor vehicle while under the influence. At this point, there was no knowledge or indication of the death of Mitchell.

After the arrest, the officer asked the defendant to submit to a breath alcohol test by which the officer referred to a chemical-breath test. The defendant inquired as to his right not to submit and was told by the officer that such refusal would result in the suspension of his license.

The defendant then consented and was taken to the State Police Barracks. However, there was no one at the barracks at that time qualified to administer the test. He was then taken to Lower Bucks County Hospital where blood was drawn and analyzed. The results of this test indicated intoxication. This the defendant sought to suppress. The court ...


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