Commonwealth v. Lees, 2016 PA Super 73

Posted in Commonwealth Appeals,DUI,Pretrial Motions,Statutory Interpretation on March 24, 2016

This was a Commonwealth appeal of a pretrial habeas order in Montour County.

The Superior Court found that the Commonwealth had established a prima facie case of DUI, reckless driving, and careless driving where the defendant — testing revealed a 0.189% BAC — had driven her car over the partial curb in front of a parking spot, through some grass, and into an electrical box.

The defendant’s car was in a numbered spot of the common private parking lot of her townhome complex. The lower court held that the lot and space were not covered by the vehicle code. The Superior Court reversed; binding cases hold that roadways in private areas, even those restricted to permit holders, can meet the “public use” test. Here, even though the lot was marked “private,” and the spot in question was reserved by a numbering system, the lot was used by mailmen, deliverymen, and visitors.

This case was decided under the low prima facie standard of proof applied in habeas motions.

President Judge Gantman’s opinion can be found here.