ILNews

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. The practitioners and judges who hail E-filing as the Saviour of the West need to contain their respective excitements. E-filing is federal court requires the practitioner to cram his motion practice into pigeonholes created by IT people. Compound motions or those seeking alternative relief are effectively barred, unless the practitioner wants to receive a tart note from some functionary admonishing about the "problem". E-filing is just another method by which courts and judges transfer their burden to practitioners, who are the really the only powerless components of the system. Of COURSE it is easier for the court to require all of its imput to conform to certain formats, but this imposition does NOT improve the quality of the practice of law and does NOT improve the ability of the practitioner to advocate for his client or to fashion pleadings that exactly conform to his client's best interests. And we should be very wary of the disingenuous pablum about the costs. The courts will find a way to stick it to the practitioner. Lake County is a VERY good example of this rapaciousness. Any one who does not believe this is invited to review the various special fees that system imposes upon practitioners- as practitioners- and upon each case ON TOP of the court costs normal in every case manually filed. Jurisprudence according to Aldous Huxley.

  2. Any attorneys who practice in federal court should be able to say the same as I can ... efiling is great. I have been doing it in fed court since it started way back. Pacer has its drawbacks, but the ability to hit an e-docket and pull up anything and everything onscreen is a huge plus for a litigator, eps the sole practitioner, who lacks a filing clerk and the paralegal support of large firms. Were I an Indiana attorney I would welcome this great step forward.

  3. Can we get full disclosure on lobbyist's payments to legislatures such as Mr Buck? AS long as there are idiots that are disrespectful of neighbors and intent on shooting fireworks every night, some kind of regulations are needed.

  4. I am the mother of the child in this case. My silence on the matter was due to the fact that I filed, both in Illinois and Indiana, child support cases. I even filed supporting documentation with the Indiana family law court. Not sure whether this information was provided to the court of appeals or not. Wish the case was done before moving to Indiana, because no matter what, there is NO WAY the state of Illinois would have allowed an appeal on a child support case!

  5. "No one is safe when the Legislature is in session."

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