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New Ringgold man loses appeal of DUI conviction

Published November 22. 2010 05:00PM

Garth Andrew Lakitsky, 41, of 2271 Sunny Road, New Ringgold, was denied by the Superior Court of Pennsylvania his appeal from a conviction for driving under the influence (DUI).

He was sentenced by Judge Charles M. Miller in Schuylkill County court on Nov. 20, 2009, to serve five days to six months in the county prison after he had been adjudged guilty by Miller following a non-jury trial. The court ruled he was incapable of safely driving.

The charge stems from an incident on June 10, 2008, in West Penn Township. At the trial Police Chief Brian Johnson, who was off duty and on his way to another accident as assistant fire chief, when he stopped after seeing Lakisky's vehicle which had crashed into a yard rake or yard break (which is a piece of farm equipment that is hooked to the back of a tractor). Steam was still emerging from the vehicle. Johnson testified he noticed Lakitsky about 20 feet from the vehicle and summoned Officer Jason Lorah to investigate.

Lorah described finding the vehicle's undercarriage and front end damaged and that Lakitsky told him his dog distracted him and he went off Rocky Lane Road, up a bank, struck a tree, through a 55 gallon drum and landed on the yard rake. Lorah testified he smelled alcohol and observed Lakitsky having blood shot eyes, slurred speech and admitted to having a couple beers several hours earlier.

In his appeal Lakitsky raised a number of questions, whether the trail court's verdict in finding him guilty was against the weight and sufficiency of evidence; that the evidence failed to establish beyond a reasonable doubt that he had imbibed alcohol to a degree to render him incapable of safe driving; the evidence failed to establish beyond a reasonable doubt that he operated his vehicle under the influence of alcohol; and that the verdict was based on speculation.

The Superior Court ruled the evidence established the time of the accident by the engine still steaming and the defendant admitted he had a couple of beers which establishes he had consumned alcohol prior to the accident, in light of this evidence, "we detect no basis upon which to disturb the guilty verdict."

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