“I don’t have my glasses” is not an excuse that will spare you from losing your driver’s license if you refuse to submit to a blood-alcohol test during a drunken-driving related traffic stop.
A Commonwealth Court panel made that official in a recent ruling denying a license suspension appeal from a Bucks County woman who used that very excuse when she was pulled over for DUI in November 2014.
Diane Boerner was hit with the one-year license suspension by PennDOT for refusing blood-alcohol testing.
In her appeal, Boerner claimed she never actually refused to give a blood sample.
The cop who pulled her over read her the implied consent warning stating that a refusal to submit to the test would trigger and automatic license suspension. That wasn’t enough for Boerner, though.
She insisted that she wanted to read the warning for herself. She didn’t have her glasses, however, because they were in her car, which had been towed away. Boerner never gave the officer a “yes” or “no” answer, and didn’t sign the consent form, so the officer logged her as having refused the testing.
The state judges didn’t buy Boerner’s explanation. In an opinion by Judge Patricia A. McCullough, they concluded the officer’s finding that Boerner had refused the testing was right on.
McCullough noted that Doylestown Township Police Officer Jeffrey Stich said he pulled Boerner over after she switched lanes without signaling, zigzagged on the highway and nearly crashed into his cruiser. There was an open wine bottle on the floor in the back of her car and Boerner smelled of alcohol, the officer said.
Boerner handed him expired registration and insurance cards. When he asked her for the current cards, she “simply placed a bracelet on her wrist,” McCullough wrote. The officer said Boerner also refused to take a field sobriety test or allow a breath-alcohol test. A video of the stop shows Stich reading the implied consent warning aloud to Boerner, the state judge noted.
McCullough agreed with an earlier finding by county Senior Judge John J. Rufe that the license suspension must stand because Boerner “did not unequivocally consent to the (blood) test.” Rather, Rufe described Boerner’s actions as “being disingenuous and an attempt to delay the testing.”
Stich’s spoken implied consent warning was enough, since the officer had no legal obligation to allow Boerner to read it for herself, McCullough noted. Also, she observed that Boerner never told Stich that she was confused about what the officer had read to her.
Boerner’s inaction therefore constituted a refusal, McCullough found.