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Judges affirm drunk-driving conviction

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A Madison Circuit judge did not abuse his discretion in instructing the jury on operating a vehicle while intoxicated as a Class C misdemeanor, a lesser-included offense of drunk-driving charges a man faced, the Indiana Court of Appeals concluded.

Guydell Watson faced two charges for allegedly driving while under the influence: operating a vehicle with a B.A.C. of at least 0.15 percent as a Class A misdemeanor and operating with a B.A.C. of at least 0.15 percent with a previous conviction for operating while intoxicated as a Class D felony. Watson’s first trial resulted in a hung jury, so the state retried on the same charges.

Over Watson’s objection, the trial court also instructed the jury on operating a vehicle with a B.A.C. of at least 0.08 percent but less than 0.15 percent as a lesser-included offense of operating a vehicle with a B.A.C. of at least 0.15 percent. The jury found Watson guilty of the lesser-included offense, and Watson pleaded guilty to an amended Class D felony charge.

On appeal, Watson challenged the refusal to grant him public funds to hire an expert witness to decipher the results of tests performed on the BAC Datamaster used by the arresting officer. At the trial, an inspector with the Indiana State Department of Toxicology testified about how Datamasters are calibrated.

But Watson failed to show that the proposed unnamed expert could demonstrate that which he desired from the expert and failed to set forth what exactly he wanted the expert to testify about, Senior Judge Carr Darden wrote. It appeared he wanted the expert for only exploratory purposes.

Watson also claimed the trial court improperly granted the state’s motion to instruct on the lesser-included offense. The Court of Appeals found that operating a vehicle with a BAC of at least 0.08 percent but less than 0.15 percent is an inherently lesser-included offense of operating a vehicle with a BAC of at least 0.15 percent, so the trial judge did not abuse his discretion in instructing the jury on the Class C misdemeanor.

 

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