Commonwealth v. Shawn Fickes 2009 PA Super 64 (4/08/2009)

Topic: DUI – Suppression of Evidence – Exigent Circumstances

Summary: An officer may enter a the garage of a private residence when he has probable cause to believe that the driver of a vehicle that is seen in that garage was driving under the influence.

Illustration: Fickes was accused of driving over a mailbox and partially uprooting a victim’s tree. The police followed a trail of antifreeze from the victim’s home to Fickes’ driveway. The officers witnessed Fickes’ vehicle poorly parked (rammed into furniture) in the garage. After knocking and not getting a response, the officers entered the garage and entered the vehicle. The Superior Court distinguished this case from Commonwealth v. John Charles Lee and concluded that probable cause existed to enter the garage. The Court found that DUI is a serious offense and that there was the risk of evidence being destroyed (alcohol leaving Fickes’ system).

http://www.pacourts.us/OpPosting/Superior/out/s02026_09.pdf