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House of Representatives
Session of 2021 - 2022 Regular Session


Posted: January 26, 2021 10:20 AM
From: Representative Martina A. White
To: All House members
Subject: Correcting a DUI prosecution loophole created by Commonwealth v. Perfetto
Imagine that someone who is charged with a serious DUI plus a ticket for having an expired inspection sticker could make the DUI vanish simply by paying the ticket.  This isn't imagination; due to a recent Pennsylvania Supreme Court decision, this is reality due to hyper technicality.  
I am introducing legislation to address this recent Pennsylvania Supreme Court decision.  If left uncorrected, it will likely force trial courts to dismiss the misdemeanor and felony charges of defendants as a result of a legal technicality. In Philadelphia, prosecutors are required to try all summary traffic citations in the Philadelphia Municipal Court.  But the Municipal Court does not have jurisdiction over misdemeanor cases. Accordingly, where a defendant is charged with both misdemeanors and summary traffic citations arising from the same incident, the prosecution must try the summary traffic citations separately from the misdemeanors. In Commonwealth v. Perfetto, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court held that this practice violated the compulsory joinder rule (codified in the Crimes Code), which requires prosecutors to bring, in a single proceeding, all known charges against a defendant arising from the same criminal episode.  In Perfetto, the defendant paid off his ticket... and then walked off scot-free from his DUI.
My legislation will create an exception to the compulsory joinder rule and permit prosecutors to pursue summary offenses separate from any misdemeanor or felony charges that arise from the same incident. Please join me in co-sponsoring this legislation to better protect and serve our Commonwealth residents.

Introduced as HB1231