Ruling the evidence did not support a finding that alcohol had subsequently impaired the defendant's normal mental and physical faclties to render him incapable of operating his vehicle safely, Judge John E. Domalakes, after a hearing in the Schuylkill County Court, dismissed a charge of driving under the influence (DUI) against Daniel G. Croneberger, 27, of Auburn.
Croneberger had filed a motion to suppress the evidence obtained against him and the motion was granted. "We concluded, " Domalake wrote in his ruling, "that the evidence presented by the Commonwealth fails to establish the defendant was violating the DUI-Incapable of Safe Driving Section of the Motor Vehicle Code, even if a fact finder would find said evidence credible."
In support of his ruling, Domalakes stated, "In order to establish defendant's guilt under said section, the Commonwealth must prove that an individual charged with driving under the influence of alcohol was incapable of operating a vehicle safely due to alcohol ingestion and must prove that alcohol had substantially impaired the normal mental and physical faculties required to operate the vehicle. In this instant case, the only evidence available to the officer (Warren Firing of Schuylkill Haven Police Department) at the time he stopped the vehicle for speeding was that he detected an odor of alcohol emanating from the vehcicle. There was another occupant in the car and the officer was informed that the passenger had been drinking and was being taken home.
"The officer admitted that the defendant spoke coherently and had no difficulty understanding his directions. There was no evidence that he was combative, staggered, swayed, had glassy eyes, nor had difficulty producing the appropriate cards. The only evidence was that he was engaged in 'driving erractic' but the statement was based solely on him exceeding the speed limit."
Domalakes denied the motion to dismiss the charge of failing to drive at a safe speed."