Pennsylvania v. Hill (majority)Annotate this Case
In the early morning hours of April 22, 2015, several police officers, including Sergeant Joseph Blaze, were investigating a report of shots fired. The investigation lead Sergeant Blaze to the intersection of Frankstown Road and Robinson Boulevard. As the sergeant drove through that intersection with a green light, he heard tires squealing and observed a dark gray vehicle speeding directly at him. Appellant Bryan Hill was driving that vehicle; the vehicle entered the intersection in an uncontrolled skid and nearly hit Sergeant Blaze’s police car. The sergeant turned his vehicle around and pursued Appellant. Other officers soon joined in the pursuit. Sergeant Blaze and Officer Dustin Hess eventually observed Appellant walking away from his vehicle, which was parked in a residential driveway. As Appellant approached the front door of that residence, the officers noticed that he appeared to be intoxicated. Officer Hess ordered Appellant to stop so the officers could speak with him, but Appellant ignored the directive, choosing instead to pound on the front door of the home and to exclaim to the officers, inter alia, “I didn’t almost hit you . . . I wasn’t going too fast . . . I made it home.” The officers ultimately escorted Appellant to the police station for chemical testing. Appellant, however, was belligerent and uncooperative. He refused to take a breathalyzer test. Relevant to this appeal, the Commonwealth charged Appellant with two counts of DUI. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court addressed whether Appellant raised a non-waivable federal double jeopardy challenge to the legality of his sentence imposed for two guilty verdicts of driving under the influence of alcohol stemming from one act of DUI, and if so, whether that claim had merit. The Supreme Court concluded Appellant's double jeopardy claim, solely as it related to his second sentence for DUI, implicated the legality of his sentence, rendering the claim immune from waiver. "Regarding the substance of that claim, we need not reach a definitive conclusion that Appellant’s sentence violates double jeopardy because his sentence is illegal on non-constitutional grounds." Accordingly, the Court vacated in part the trial court's judgment and Appellant's second DUI sentence.