Schuylkill driver successful in having DUI charge dropped
A Orwigsburg motorist was successful in having a driving under the influence (DUI) charged dismissed by a Schuylkill County judge because the evidence gained by a state trooper was performed without any reasonable justification of a violation of the motor vehicle code.
James John Constanty, 54, of Orwigsburg, filed the motion to suppress the DUI charge and a hearing was held before Judge John E. Domalakes.
Constanty was stopped by Trooper Robert Oakley on Dec. 29, 2011, in a private parking lot on Main Street, North Manheim Township.
The evidence produced at the suppression hearing was that Oakley, while on patrol, observed a vehicle in the parking lot and that the trooper was concerned about theft drove onto the lot and came upon Constanty standing by his vehicle. When the trooper asked what he was doing there Constanty responded, "I'm hanging out after work." He was told to move and did so.
At this point the trooper received a response from PennDOT about ownership of the vehicle. The owner was identified and that the owner's license was suspended due to a DUI.
Domalakes commented at this point the trooper had not identified the defendant as Constanty, who was the owner of the vehicle. The trooper testified that it was "very likely" that the operator of the vehicle was the owner and then proceeded to stop the defendant's vehicle. At the stop the trooper detected a strong odor of alcohol and also observed a case of beer on the floor on the passenger's side of the vehicle. The defendant failed a sobriety test and was charged him with DUI.
In the suppression of evidence counsel for Constanty, Attorney Frank Cori, a former county district attorney, argued that the evidence obtained was the result of the stop of the vehicle and because the trooper did not have "reasonable suspicion of a violation of the motor vehicle code" the arrest was illegal.
Domalakes agreed and ruled the motion of Consanty to suppress the evidence is granted and since the Commonwealth concedes that it has insufficient evidence to proceed in the absence of the evidence the charges are dismissed.
Constanty was charged with DUI, driving while his operating privileges were suspended, and operating a vehicle without an official inspection certificate.