Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

COMMONWEALTH v. DIFRANCESCO ET AL. (10/16/74)

decided: October 16, 1974.

COMMONWEALTH
v.
DIFRANCESCO ET AL., APPELLANTS



Appeals from orders of Superior Court, Oct. T., 1971, Nos. 824, 825, 847, and 848, affirming judgments of sentence of Court of Common Pleas of Lancaster County, March T., 1969, No. 367, Sept. T., 1969, No. 321, and Nos. 514 and 876 of 1970, in case of Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Samuel R. DiFrancesco, Jr., John H. Buckwalter, Anthony L. Steckel, Jr., and Fred A. Douts.

COUNSEL

Myron L. Markovitz, with him William W. Stainton, Andrew J. Gleason, Gleason, DiFrancesco, Shahade & Markovitz and Arnold, Bricker, Beyer & Barnes, for Samuel R. DiFrancesco, Jr., appellant.

William W. Stainton, with him John W. Beyer, and Arnold, Bricker, Beyer & Barnes, for John H. Buckwalter, Anthony L. Steckel, Jr., and Fred A. Douts, appellants.

J. Andrew Smyser, Deputy Attorney General, with him Israel Packel, Attorney General, Ronald L. Buckwalter, Assistant District Attorney, and D. Richard Eckman, District Attorney, for Commonwealth, appellee.

Jones, C. J., Eagen, O'Brien, Roberts, Pomeroy and Nix, JJ. Opinion by Mr. Justice Pomeroy. Mr. Justice Eagen concurs in the result. Mr. Justice Manderino took no part in the consideration or decision of this case.

Author: Pomeroy

[ 458 Pa. Page 191]

These four consolidated appeals challenge the constitutionality of section 624.1(c) of The Vehicle Code, which provides that if the amount of alcohol by weight in the blood of a person accused of driving under the influence of intoxicating liquor is shown by chemical analysis to be ten one-hundredths percent (.10%) or more, "it shall be presumed that the defendant was under the influence of intoxicating liquor".*fn1

[ 458 Pa. Page 192]

Appellants were each convicted by a jury of operating a vehicle while under the influence of intoxicating liquor. Results of an analysis of blood taken from appellant Steckel shortly after his arrest, showing a blood-alcohol percentage of 0.21 by weight, were introduced at his trial. Breathalyzer test results were introduced at the trials of appellants DiFrancesco, Douts, and Buckwalter, showing blood-alcohol percentages of 0.16, 0.19 and 0.21, respectively. The court's instructions to the jury concerning these test results were substantially identical. In each case, the trial judge recited the pertinent portions of section 624.1. Exceptions were taken to these instructions on the basis that the statute infringed upon the constitutional rights of the defendants. On appeal, the Superior Court affirmed the judgments of sentence per curiam. We granted allocatur, limited to the question of the constitutional validity of the inculpatory inference authorized by the statute.

At the outset, we note that nothing in subsection (c) of section 624.1 relieves the Commonwealth of its burden of laying a proper foundation for the introduction of test results showing the amount of alcohol in the defendant's blood.*fn2 Nor does the statute compel a verdict of guilty on the basis of such test results alone. Subsection (d) of section 624.1 expressly provides that

[ 458 Pa. Page 193]

"[t]he foregoing provisions of this section shall not be construed as limiting the introduction of any other competent evidence bearing upon the question whether or not the defendant was under the influence of intoxicating liquor". The defendant himself may ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.