Saying Pennsylvania’s law on the offense is “unconstitutionally vague,” the state Supreme Court on Thursday voided the prison sentence of a motorist convicted of refusing to submit to chemical testing after being accused of driving while under a DUI-related license suspension.
The problem, Justice David N. Wecht found in the high court’s majority opinion, is that the 20-year-old statute under which Khalil Eid was prosecuted doesn’t state a maximum term of imprisonment for that offense.
That omission by the Legislature violates state and federal requirements that minimum and maximum sentences be listed for violations of any particular law, Wecht concluded. The statute under which Eid was prosecuted specifies only a minimum sentence of 90 days without stating a maximum penalty.
Eid was sentenced to 90 days to 6 months in prison by a Philadelphia County judge on his conviction. He was arrested because police said he collided with two parked cars in February 2015. Investigators said Eid was intoxicated when the wreck occurred.
Wecht found the “gap” in the state law under which Eid was prosecuted regarding lack a maximum sentence renders ithe statute “unconstitutionally vague and inoperable for the time being.”
“We leave it to the General Assembly to remedy this impediment, if it so chooses, either by amending the statute to provide for a maximum term of imprisonment or by expressly permitting flat sentencing within a range not to exceed that maximum sentence,” the justice wrote.
The high court’s ruling doesn’t leave Eid completely off the hook.
Wecht found that Eid still has to pay the $1,000 fine specified for his offense.