By Matt Miller
on April 02, 2014 at 12:12 PM, updated April 02, 2014 at 12:26 PM
A bicyclist who was sentenced to prison after being convicted of riding drunk through State College in the middle of a winter night has had his punishment upheld by the state Superior Court.
Frank J. Aritz Jr.’s arrest stemmed from several mistakes on his part, according to court filings.
Pennsylvania Judicial CenterThe Pennsylvania Judicial Center
For starters, he probably shouldn’t have yelled at a borough cop.
Police said Aritz, 23, of Luzerne County, shouted something unintelligible as he pedaled by the marked police cruiser of Officer Amanda Estep at 12:30 a.m. on Feb. 10, 2012. Estep said she turned in response to the noise and saw Aritz riding on the sidewalk without a headlamp on his bike.
State College forbids cyclists from riding on sidewalks.
State law requires them to use headlamps when riding after dark.
And the law also bars anyone from operating any type of vehicle on a public road while they are intoxicated.
Estep claimed Aritz began yelling and wouldn’t pull over at first when she tried to stop him after he rode off the sidewalk and into the bike lane on the street. When he did stop, the officer said, she noticed his eyes were bloodshot, he smelled of alcohol and was swaying, and his speech was “thick-tongued.”
Aritz failed a field sobriety test, and it was later determined that his blood-alcohol level was 0.164 percent, just over twice the limit at which a motorist is considered too drunk to drive, court filings show.
During a nonjury trial last April, Centre County Judge Bradley P. Lunsford convicted Aritz of DUI, violating the bicycle lamp requirement and breaching the borough’s no-riding-on-the-sidewalk ordinance.
Aritz appealed to the state court after Lunsford sentenced him to serve 15 days to 6 months in prison.
In affirming that sentence, a panel of the Superior Court rejected Aritz’s claims that the case should have been thrown out because Estep lacked legal grounds to pull him over. The officer had due cause to stop him because his bike lacked a light and he shouldn’t have been on the sidewalk, the judges concluded.