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COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA v. CHARLES J. GRISCAVAGE (05/31/84)

submitted: May 31, 1984.

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA
v.
CHARLES J. GRISCAVAGE, APPELLANT



NO. 02504 PHILADELPHIA 1983, Appeal from the Judgment of Sentence of the Court of Common Pleas of Tioga County, Criminal at No. 101 of 1983.

COUNSEL

Robert E. Dalton, Jr., Public Defender, Blossburg, for appellant.

James E. Carlson, District Attorney, Wellsboro, for Commonwealth, appellee.

Montemuro, Johnson and Hoffman, JJ.

Author: Montemuro

[ 336 Pa. Super. Page 145]

This matter is before the court on the appeal of Charles J. Griscavage from judgment of sentence on convictions of driving under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance,*fn1 and three vehicular summary offenses.*fn2 The issues in this appeal relate only to appellant's conviction on the charge of driving while under the influence of intoxicating liquor. He contends that the evidence produced at trial was insufficient and that the verdict was against the weight of the evidence.

The test for evaluating claims based on the sufficiency of the evidence is:

[W]hether, viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the Commonwealth, and drawing all reasonable inferences favorable to the Commonwealth, there is sufficient evidence to find every element of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt . . . . The Commonwealth may sustain its burden of proving every element of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt by means of wholly circumstantial evidence . . . . Moreover, in applying the above test, the entire trial record must be evaluated and all evidence actually received must be considered . . . . Finally, the trier of fact, while passing upon the credibility of witnesses and the weight to be afforded the evidence produced, is free to believe all, part or none of the evidence. (Citations omitted).

Commonwealth v. Harper, 485 Pa. 572, 576-77, 403 A.2d 536, 538-39 (1979).

Viewing the evidence in this light, the record reveals the following: In the early morning hours of January 30, 1983, Officer Thomas Young, II, of the Wellsboro Police Department, was conducting a security check of several business establishments along Route 6 in Wellsboro. At approximately

[ 336 Pa. Super. Page 14612]

:40 A.M., Officer Young heard a vehicle with its engine "revving quite high" approaching on Route 6. N.T. July 20, 1983, at 12. A green Chevrolet came into view, and Officer Young observed that it was traveling in "gross excess" of the posted 45 m.p.h. speed limit. Id. at 13. In order to pursue the Chevrolet, Officer Young had to turn his police cruiser around, and in doing so, he temporarily lost sight of the Chevrolet. Officer Young regained sight of the vehicle as it was entering a curve about one-quarter mile beyond him. The officer saw the Chevrolet's brake lights come on, and noticed that it had crossed over the center of the highway. After coming around the curve, the officer came upon an accident involving the pursued Chevrolet and another vehicle which had been in the oncoming lane. The accident took place at about 12:44 A.M.

Officer Young went to the Chevrolet first and found the appellant slumped over the steering wheel. He was unable to open the door on the driver's side of the Chevrolet because of the damage from the collision, so he gained access to the vehicle from the passenger's side. The appellant had a large laceration on his forehead and was bleeding profusely. The appellant was conscious, and when asked by the officer if he was all right, he responded "yes." Id. at 18. In talking to the appellant, Officer Young detected "an odor of alcohol emanate from his person." Id. The officer then went over to the second vehicle which he discovered had sustained more damage than the Chevrolet. Its driver, Sandra Gorcas, was lying on the seat with a severe gouge on her forehead. At that point, the ambulance arrived and the appellant and Ms. Gorcas were taken to Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hospital.

Officer Young stayed at the scene for about half an hour to clean up debris and examine the area. He observed skid marks roughly fifty feet (50') in length in the appellant's lane of travel, crossing over the center line at the beginning of the curve, and continuing to the point of impact. He noticed that the roadway was dry although it had been somewhat overcast that evening.

[ 336 Pa. Super. Page 147]

Officer Young proceeded to the hospital where, at some time between 1:19 A.M. and 2:32 A.M., he spoke to the appellant in the emergency room. The officer advised the appellant that he wanted a blood sample taken for a alcohol/blood test, and informed him of his rights. The appellant verbally consented and was then asked three quick questions by the officer.*fn3 First, the officer wanted to know if the appellant had spotted the police cruiser when it had been parked along the roadway. The appellant indicated that he had not because as he drove down that section of Route 6, his attention had been drawn to the cars parked in the lot of the Horseshoe Inn. Secondly, the officer wanted to know if the appellant had had anything to drink prior to the accident. The appellant replied that he had had "a few." Id. at 25. Finally, Officer Young inquired why the appellant had been traveling so fast. The appellant responded that he guessed he was in a hurry to get home.

At 3:15 A.M. the lab technician drew blood from the appellant for the purpose of a alcohol/blood analysis.*fn4 Before withdrawing appellant's blood, the technician asked the appellant if he was Charles Griscavage, and he replied that he was. The technician then made sure that the appellant knew what was being done and why. She testified that the appellant understood, that he gave her no difficulty, and that she could not tell from her short observation whether or not he had ...


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