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PATRICK ALLEN BLAIR v. COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA (04/08/88)

decided: April 8, 1988.

PATRICK ALLEN BLAIR, APPELLANT
v.
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, APPELLEE



Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Lycoming County, in the case of Patrick Allen Blair v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, No. 86-01279.

COUNSEL

Michael J. Casale, Jr., Casale & Bonner, P.C., for appellant.

Christopher J. Clements, Assistant Counsel, with him, Harold H. Cramer, Assistant Chief Counsel, John L. Heaton, Chief Counsel, for appellee.

Judges Craig, Palladino, and Senior Judge Barbieri, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Senior Judge Barbieri.

Author: Barbieri

[ 115 Pa. Commw. Page 294]

Patrick Allen Blair appeals an order of the Lycoming County Court of Common Pleas denying his appeal from the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation's (DOT's) suspension of his operating privilege for one year for refusing to submit to a chemical test pursuant to Section 1547(b) of the Vehicle Code (Code), 75 Pa. C. S. ยง 1547(b).*fn1

[ 115 Pa. Commw. Page 295]

On May 4, 1986, Blair was arrested by Officer Foust of the Williamsport Police Department and charged with driving under the influence. Officer Foust advised Blair of the consequences of refusing to submit to chemical testing and requested that he submit to both a blood and urine test. Blair was taken to Williamsport Hospital where after initially refusing, he consented to chemical testing. After obtaining a blood sample, the arresting officer requested that Blair submit to a urine test. The officer testified below that he asked Blair to submit to a urine test because "it seemed that there was more than just alcohol involved."*fn2 The officer explained that Blair was evidencing rapid mood swings and that he admitted he had taken medication for his back but would not or could not identify such medication. Officer Foust testified further that Blair did not consent to chemical testing at first because he was worried about what it would reveal.*fn3

At the hospital, Blair was able to produce a urine sample but then knocked the vial containing the sample into the toilet bowl. Officer Foust asked Blair to produce another sample and Blair responded that he was unable to do so. Blair was transported to a police station approximately ten minutes away where upon arrival, Officer Foust again asked him to produce a urine sample. Despite this and subsequent requests during the booking procedure, Blair responded that he did not have to go to the bathroom.

[ 115 Pa. Commw. Page 296]

Although Blair had submitted to a blood test, Officer Foust considered Blair's alleged inability to produce a second urine sample to be a refusal pursuant to Section 1547(b) of the Code and certified such refusal to DOT. By way of official notice dated June 13, 1986, Blair's operating privilege was suspended for one year. In dismissing Blair's appeal, the trial court found that the arresting officer had reasonable grounds to request a urine test and that Blair's actions constituted a refusal. This appeal followed.

Blair contends that the arresting officer did not have reasonable grounds to request that he submit to a urine test after he had provided a blood sample and in the alternative, that his alleged inability to produce a subsequent urine sample did not constitute a refusal.

We note initially that our scope of review in a license suspension case is limited to determining whether the trial court made findings that were not supported by substantial evidence, committed an error of law, or abused its discretion. Department of Transportation, Bureau of Driver ...


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