Kraynak found guilty of DUI
SUNBURY - Dr. Raymond Kraynak was found guilty Friday of driving under the influence of alcohol during a one-day bench trial before Northumberland County Judge Charles H. Saylor.
The 56-year-old Kulpmont resident, who is a member of Mount Carmel Area School Board, faces a maximum prison sentence of six months plus fines and costs. He remains free on bail.
He will undergo a drug and alcohol evaluation before being sentenced between 60 and 90 days.
Kraynak, who denied being drunk, was the only defense witness, while the prosecution presented six police officers as witnesses.
At approximately 4:15 p.m., Saylor issued the guilty plea and said he concluded on three points: there was substantial compliance with DUI checkpoint guidelines that eventually led to Kraynak's arrest the night of May 26, 2012; there was sufficient evidence to establish that Kraynak was unable to operate a motor vehicle safely; and the judge would not consider Kraynak's credibility due to the officers' testimonies.
Kraynack testified that he had two cans of Coors Light beer between 8 and 9 p.m. May 26, 2012, at the polish club in Kulpmont. At approximately 10:30 p.m. after returning home and walking his dog, Kraynak said he was craving a bowl of chili from Wendy's, located on Independence Street in Shamokin.
Kraynak said there was no doubt in his mind that he was able to drive his vehicle safety.
When he approached the DUI checkpoint along Route 61 in the eastern end of Coal Township, Kraynak said he was in the passing lane and several large vehicles were likely blocking his view of large signs indicating the checkpoint was ahead. His position lower to the ground in his Ford Mustang also may have blocked his view.
Furthermore, he said, his attention was focused on the police lights ahead and he assumed there was a large accident since there were police vehicles on both sides of the road.
"My instinct was, if it's an accident, maybe I can help," he said.
Kraynack testified that he parked his car behind a police cruiser in the passing lane, exited his vehicle, introduced himself to an officer and offered his assistance.
Kraynak's attorney, Frederick Fanelli of Pottsville, didn't dispute testimony by several police officers who claimed the physician was intoxicated at a DUI checkpoint along Route 61 in the eastern end of Coal Township.
But he repeatedly challenged the legality of the sobriety checkpoint in which he was arrested and the training obtained by participating officers. He also implied that his client may have been targeted since he was the only person charged with DUI that night.
Fanelli was very deliberate in questioning witnesses called by Assistant District Attorney Michael Toomey while claiming Coal Township police violated rules and regulations contained in the DUI law enforcement manual.
Coal Township Patrolman Matthew Henrich, who filed the driving under the influence of alcohol charge against Kraynak, said he smelled a strong odor of alcohol on the defendant's breath after he was escorted by Sunbury Officer Steve Bennick to the field sobriety testing area near the former Sam Bressi Motors.
Henrich also said Kraynak's speech was slurred and his face was a little flushed.
He testified that the defendant denied drinking or being drunk and said the doctor told him he was "there to help."
The witness said he then demonstrated field sobriety tests to the defendant that included walking, standing on one foot and other balancing evaluations. He said Kraynak, who stepped on his own toes at one point, failed the tests, prompting him to be placed under arrest for suspicion of DUI.
Kraynack testified to several physical limitations that would hinder his ability to perform the tests: spinal stenosis, which pinches nerves in his back and causes pain and weakness in his legs; diabetic neuropathy, which degenerates nerves due to elevated sugar and causes numbness in feet, and a herniated disk, which causes numbness in his arms.
When Henrich told Kraynak he was under arrest, he claimed Kraynak said, "No, I'm not."
He said the defendant requested to speak to an attorney and refused to submit to a preliminary breath test or blood-alcohol testing.
Kraynak said he didn't want to be taken to the Geisinger-Shamokin Area Hospital in handcuffs, since it would embarrass him in front of colleagues and potential clients.
Henrich said Kraynak insisted on talking to Coal Township Patrolman Terry Ketchem, who served in the dual role of checkpoint coordinator and officer in charge.
The officer said Kraynak became very loud at times about being arrested. The officer said Kraynak later admitted to drinking a couple beers before being stopped at the checkpoint. He said Kraynak also yelled at his wife a few times after she was summoned to drive him home.
Kraynak said he wanted the officers to clarify his duties in the tests and questioning, but was not treated appropriately. He said the officers were "nasty" to him and he was told to urinate his pants when he asked what he should do if he needed to use the restroom.
Kraynak said he was frustrated.
Before leaving the scene, Henrich said Kraynak apologized to the officer for his behavior and shook his hand, but also told him police would be hearing from his attorney.
Henrich said he was not fully certified to conduct DUI checkpoints at the time of Kraynak's arrest, but became properly trained in that area earlier this year.
Ketchem, who serves as the DUI checkpoint coordinator for five municipalities including Coal Township, told the court the sobriety checkpoints are funded through the North Central Highway Safety Network.
He explained how checkpoints are set up and that a wide "pull off" area is established for the safety of motorists and police.
The officer said bright orange diamond-shaped signs measuring 4 feet by 4 feet were erected on the berms of both the northbound and southbound lanes of Route 61. He said the signs that read "Sobriety Checkpoint Ahead" were positioned 600 feet from the checkpoint and were illuminated by flares, while the other signs reading "Be Prepared to Stop" were approximately 400 feet away from the checkpoint.
He said portable generators and high-intensity lighting also were used at the checkpoint.
Ketchem testified that he recommends locations and dates for the checkpoints, which must be authorized by Coal Township Chief of Police William Carpenter.
During the checkpoint, Ketchem recalled seeing Kraynak staggering while being escorted by Bennick over a 2 1/2-foot concrete barrier that divides the northbound and southbound lanes of Route 61.
The officer said Kraynak became very agitated after being told he was being arrested and demanded to see the supervisor in charge of the checkpoint.
Ketchem testified that Kraynak was swaying and his speech was slurred. The officer said he also detected a strong odor of alcohol coming from Kraynak's breath.
He said the doctor asked him for some professional courtesy, which Ketchem took as a request to leave him go.
The officer, who pointed out there is a "zero tolerance" at checkpoints supervised by Coal Township police, said Kraynak threatened to sue everyone involved in the checkpoint.
Carpenter testified that he authorized the May 26, 2012, checkpoint conducted between 10 p.m. and 3 a.m.
He said 16 DUI arrests were made by Coal Township police along Route 61 between 2010 and May 26, 2012. He did not dispute Fanelli's statement that only two DUI-related crashes occurred in the area of the checkpoint between 2006 and 2010.
Bennick, who served as the contact officer at the checkpoint, said Kraynak was weaving when he exited his green Mustang convertible and began walking toward him near the center of the highway. The officer, who didn't know Kraynak at the time, said the doctor had blood-shot eyes and told him he was there to help while thinking he came upon an accident rather than a checkpoint.
Bennick, who described Kraynak as being "intoxicated," said he escorted the defendant by the left arm over the Jersey barrier to Henrich.
Kraynak maintained the officers made him crawl over the barrier himself and cross two lanes of traffic to be tested.
The officer said Kraynak left the lights of his Mustang on and the engine running upon exiting the vehicle. He said the emergency brake was not activated on the car, which was in neutral on a slight downgrade.
Also testifying for the prosecution were Shamokin Cpl. Jarrod Scandle and Ralpho Township Patrolman Stephen Spade.
Asked for comment following the verdict, Kraynak only said, "This will be appealed."