A Senior Judge sitting in Montgomery County Miscellaneous Court recently dismissed a DUI case because the defendant was facing a mandatory minimum sentence of 48 hours but had been incarcerated for 10 days awaiting trial. Judge Braxton’s rationale was that the man was not likely to get a sentence of more than 48 hours in jail, so holding him much longer than that in order to await trial made no sense. The Defendant, Patrick Grinnan, lived in Tioga County, so it would also be inconvenient for him to come back to Montgomery County from Tioga County for Court.
On the other hand, the Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office appealed the ruling, arguing that a dismissal would eliminate the prior record and PennDOT consequences that attach to DUI convictions. If Mr. Grinnan had been convicted, he would have had a criminal record showing the conviction for DUI. If he got another DUI within ten years it would have counted as a second offense and triggered higher “subsequent offender” penalties including the possibility of a 90 day mandatory minimum jail sentence. It would also have precluded him from getting ARD in the future, a program discussed in the DUI section of this website. Finally, PennDOT suspends the license of anyone convicted of DUI in Pennsylvania (one year for a first offense). This penalty, however, only applies if the person is convicted. Since Mr. Grinnan was not convicted he did not suffer the same suspension that most similarly situated defendants would have.
The ultimate outcome of the Grinnan case depended upon a balancing of all factors in the case. Judge Braxton ruled that once he did that, the harm of continued detention outweighed the harm of eliminating the record and suspension, and thus he dismissed the DUI charges against Mr. Grinnan.