DUI Arrest Causes Man to Claim He is a Country


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.

DUI lawyers may find many ways to defend their clients. Declaring sovereignty is generally not one of them.

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 for dismissal.

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.


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