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Commonwealth v. Smith

Superior Court of Pennsylvania
831 A.2d 636 (2003)


Facts

A police officer observed Karen Smith (defendant) as she drove her truck into an oncoming lane and continued in the wrong lane for one-tenth of a mile. The police officer activated his emergency lights, pulled Smith over to the side of the road, and asked her to exit the truck. Smith attempted to comply, but stumbled and staggered her way out of the truck. The police officer noticed that Smith’s eyes were glassy, that she was slurring her speech, and that she emanated a strong odor of alcohol. Smith admitted to consuming several beers earlier in the evening. The police officer administered three sobriety tests, all of which Smith failed. Smith was arrested for driving under the influence (DUI) and was transported to the hospital for a blood-alcohol test. At a bench trial on the DUI charge, Smith testified that she drank beer while wearing a prescribed duragesic patch that administered narcotic medicine for pain. Smith admitted to not reading the patch’s directions or the fine print related to warnings about its use. No other testimony was provided. Smith was convicted on the DUI charge. Smith appealed, arguing that the evidence was sufficient to raise a defense of involuntary intoxication.

Rule of Law

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Issue

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Holding and Reasoning (Melvin, J.)

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  • A "yes" or "no" answer to the question framed in the issue section;
  • A summary of the majority or plurality opinion, using the CREAC method; and
  • The procedural disposition (e.g. reversed and remanded, affirmed, etc.).

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