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State didn't prove man was drunk when driving

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The Indiana Court of Appeals reversed a defendant's conviction of driving while intoxicated because the state failed to prove the man was intoxicated when he drove his moped.

Richard Gatewood appealed his conviction of Class D felony operating while intoxicated and the enhancement for being a habitual substance offender. Gatewood had back surgery a couple weeks earlier and was still taking pain medication. On his way to visit his mother in the hospital, he stopped at a liquor store and bought a pint of vodka that he planned to drink at home. Two hospital security guards saw Gatewood park his moped and stumble slightly as he entered the hospital, but they didn't see any alcohol on him and didn't think his behavior was out of the ordinary.

An hour later, the security guards found Gatewood asleep by his moped. When they woke him, they believed he was drunk so they called police. The police officer didn't find any alcohol on Gatewood or in or by his moped. Gatewood did have slurred speech, bloodshot eyes, and trouble staying awake. A medical blood draw showed his blood alcohol concentration at 0.286.

In Richard Gatewood v. State of Indiana, No. 03A04-0908-CR-449, Gatewood argued there wasn't sufficient evidence to support he was impaired and had loss of normal control of his faculties when the security guards saw him drive his moped. The appellate court found the evidence didn't prove Gatewood was intoxicated when he drove. The security guards noted he had stumbled a bit walking into the hospital, but that many people stumble when they visit the hospital because they are sick. The guards didn't see him after he went inside the hospital until an hour later when he was found by his moped. Gatewood testified he didn't drink the vodka until he got to the hospital and couldn't remember where he tossed the bottle. The police officer had testified it would take 20 beers in an hour to make a 150-pound man that drunk; however, he wasn't able to provide any information regarding how much vodka he would have to drink to reach that same BAC.

"... this is not a case where Gatewood was involved in an accident, his driving exhibited signs of impairment, or he committed any traffic infractions," wrote Judge Nancy Vaidik.

Because it reversed his conviction, the appellate court declined to address the state's cross-appeal of the suspension of Gatewood's habitual substance offender enhancement to community corrections.

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  1. A sad end to a prolific gadfly. Indiana has suffered a great loss in the journalistic realm.

  2. Good riddance to this dangerous activist judge

  3. What is the one thing the Hoosier legal status quo hates more than a whistleblower? A lawyer whistleblower taking on the system man to man. That must never be rewarded, must always, always, always be punished, lest the whole rotten tree be felled.

  4. I want to post this to keep this tread alive and hope more of David's former clients might come forward. In my case, this coward of a man represented me from June 2014 for a couple of months before I fired him. I knew something was wrong when he blatantly lied about what he had advised me in my contentious and unfortunate divorce trial. His impact on the proceedings cast a very long shadow and continues to impact me after a lengthy 19 month divorce. I would join a class action suit.

  5. The dispute in LB Indiana regarding lake front property rights is typical of most beach communities along our Great Lakes. Simply put, communication to non owners when visiting the lakefront would be beneficial. The Great Lakes are designated navigational waters (including shorelines). The high-water mark signifies the area one is able to navigate. This means you can walk, run, skip, etc. along the shores. You can't however loiter, camp, sunbath in front of someones property. Informational signs may be helpful to owners and visitors. Our Great Lakes are a treasure that should be enjoyed by all. PS We should all be concerned that the Long Beach, Indiana community is on septic systems.

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