The Superior Court of Pennsylvania recently affirmed both the DUI conviction and the judgment of sentencing of Robert Toland, II, stemming from his 2006 arrest in Delaware County. Toland had been spotted by an on-duty patrolman late at night passed out behind the wheel of his car, which was parked on the street outside of a store. The headlights were on and the motor was running, and a cold, unopened six-pack of beer was found inside of the car. Toland subsequently consented to a blood-test, where his blood alcohol concentration (BAC) was found to be .3%. The legal limit in Pennsylvania is .08%
Toland was arrested and charged with DUI- highest rate of alcohol pursuant to PA §3802(c), which prohibits an individual from driving, operating, or being in actual physical control of the movement of a vehicle after drinking enough to render a BAC of .16% or greater within two hours after they have been in physical control of the movement of the vehicle. Two weeks later, Toland was arrested for public drunkenness and hospitalized, after which he voluntarily checked himself in to a year of residential inpatient rehabilitation.
At trial in 2008, Toland was found guilty. As this was his third DUI offense within the past 10 years, he was sentenced to the mandatory minimum of 12 to 24 months imprisonment. Upon appeal, Toland argued (1) that the Commonwealth had failed to prove that he had been in actual physical control of the movement of the car at trial, and (2) that he should have been awarded credit towards his sentence for the time he served in treatment, as it was ordered as a condition of bail.
The Superior Court rejected both of Toland’s arguments. In challenging the Commonwealth’s support for showing that he was in actual physical control of the movement of his vehicle, Toland relied heavily on the Superior Court’s decision in Commonwealth v. Byers. In Byers, the defendant was discovered sleeping in the driver’s seat of a parked car outside of a bar, with the headlights on and the engine running. The Superior Court emphasized that the purpose of drunk driving laws is to protect the public at large, and that the evidence suggested that Byers was merely “sleeping it off” and thus did not pose a threat to public safety by operating the car while intoxicated on a public roadway. Here, the Superior Court distinguished the case from Byers, noting that Toland was not parked outside of a bar, but outside of a store that did not sell alcohol, with a cold six-pack of beer in his car. Upon these facts, the Court found that there was sufficient evidence to support the inference that Toland drove the vehicle to that location and intended to drive the vehicle home or to some other location so as to support the trial court’s DUI conviction.
Toland also argued that he should be awarded credit towards his sentence for his time spent in in-patient alcohol rehabilitation. Under 42 Pa. C.S. §9760, a defendant is granted credit for time spent in custody prior to sentencing for a particular offense. Whether a defendant is entitled to credit for the time spent in inpatient drug or alcohol rehabilitation turns on the question of voluntariness. If a defendant is ordered into inpatient rehabilitation by the court, he is entitled to credit for that time against his sentence; however, if a defendant chooses to voluntarily commit himself to inpatient rehab, it is up to the court to decide whether to approve credit for this commitment.
Here, the Superior Court found that Toland’s voluntary commitment to the inpatient facilities left it up to the trial court to determine whether to approve credit for time served. The Court emphasized that Toland did not check himself into treatment until one month after his release on bail, and after he had been re-arrested for drunkenness and hospitalized. Further, the Court noted a 2008 affidavit, where the defendant stated that he had not gone to rehab to avoid going to jail, but did so voluntarily to save his life. Thus, it was not improper for the trial court to deny Toland credit for his time spent in treatment.
Those accused of crimes, or administratively punished by “state” officials, are subject to the protections of the Constitution of the United States. An experienced criminal defense attorney ensures a defendant’s rights are protected. If you have been charged with, or convicted of an offense, you still have constitutionally protected rights which the Law Offices of Marc Neff can protect. For a confidential consultation, please contact our office at 215-563-9800 or via email at email@example.com.