DUI Arrest Causes Man to Claim He is a Country
By: Mary Ann Pekara
If you have been arrested for DUI, you need a good defense strategy. Claiming to be a country probably isn't one.
Scott Allan Witmer, 44, was arrested for DUI in Pennsylvania this week. From jail, he
decided to declare sovereignty and become his own country. Without the help of a lawyer, he managed to
file paperwork - claiming sovereignty - with the court in Northampton County.
Witmer's bold move is an attempt to deny Pennsylvania
courts’ jurisdiction over him. However,
this cunning plan may have backfired. The judge who examined the sovereignty claim has decided Witmer cannot
be released from jail until he undergoes a mental exam.
At a hearing on the matter, Witmer represented himself. He cleverly explained to the court that there
was no victim of his alleged crime, and furthermore, he lives inside himself
and not in Pennsylvania, therefore the state's laws do not apply to him. He then asked to go to trial, apparently with
full belief in his sturdy defense. The judge's decision to order a psychiatric evaluation comes as no surprise.
James Connell, a local defense attorney, is on standby to
defend Witmer. At the moment, Witmer
does not wish to be represented by a lawyer. However, he could change his mind before going to trial.
lawyers may find many ways to defend their clients. Declaring sovereignty is generally not one of
After a person has been arrested for DUI, a defense lawyer
can question the constitutionality of the traffic stop based on probable
cause. If an officer did not have
probable cause to stop a vehicle, in some instances the DUI case may be
dismissed. Drivers who were stopped by
police based on race or ethnicity or on some other whim may have a strong case
If a DUI defendant was not read the Miranda warning before
being questioned by the police, certain evidence may be inadmissible. Without strong evidence, prosecutors may
decide not to pursue the case.
When breath test evidence or blood evidence is present and
indicates the driver was above the legal blood alcohol content limit, a DUI
lawyer may challenge the breath
test equipment or collection, handling and testing of the blood
sample. Medical or scientific expert
witnesses may also be used at trial to refute the evidence and challenge the
results of the blood alcohol content testing.
The reputation and record of the arresting officer may also
be challenged at a DUI trial. If an
officer has a disciplinary record or some other questionable history, a DUI
lawyer may use this to cast doubt on the officer's account of the incident on
the arrest report.
In any event, declaring sovereignty is a radical move and
not likely to be an effective DUI defense.