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. So that none are misinformed by my posting wihtout a non de plume here, please allow me to state that I am NOT an Indiana licensed attorney, although I am an Indiana resident approved to practice law and represent clients in Indiana's fed court of Nth Dist and before the 7th circuit. I remain licensed in KS, since 1996, no discipline. This must be clarified since the IN court records will reveal that I did sit for and pass the Indiana bar last February. Yet be not confused by the fact that I was so allowed to be tested .... I am not, to be clear in the service of my duty to be absolutely candid about this, I AM NOT a member of the Indiana bar, and might never be so licensed given my unrepented from errors of thought documented in this opinion, at fn2, which likely supports Mr Smith's initial post in this thread: http://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-7th-circuit/1592921.html

  2. When I served the State of Kansas as Deputy AG over Consumer Protection & Antitrust for four years, supervising 20 special agents and assistant attorneys general (back before the IBLE denied me the right to practice law in Indiana for not having the right stuff and pretty much crushed my legal career) we had a saying around the office: Resist the lure of the ring!!! It was a take off on Tolkiem, the idea that absolute power (I signed investigative subpoenas as a judge would in many other contexts, no need to show probable cause)could corrupt absolutely. We feared that we would overreach constitutional limits if not reminded, over and over, to be mindful to not do so. Our approach in so challenging one another was Madisonian, as the following quotes from the Father of our Constitution reveal: The essence of Government is power; and power, lodged as it must be in human hands, will ever be liable to abuse. We are right to take alarm at the first experiment upon our liberties. I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations. Liberty may be endangered by the abuse of liberty, but also by the abuse of power. All men having power ought to be mistrusted. -- James Madison, Federalist Papers and other sources: http://www.constitution.org/jm/jm_quotes.htm RESIST THE LURE OF THE RING ALL YE WITH POLITICAL OR JUDICIAL POWER!

  3. My dear Mr Smith, I respect your opinions and much enjoy your posts here. We do differ on our view of the benefits and viability of the American Experiment in Ordered Liberty. While I do agree that it could be better, and that your points in criticism are well taken, Utopia does indeed mean nowhere. I think Madison, Jefferson, Adams and company got it about as good as it gets in a fallen post-Enlightenment social order. That said, a constitution only protects the citizens if it is followed. We currently have a bevy of public officials and judicial agents who believe that their subjectivism, their personal ideology, their elitist fears and concerns and cause celebs trump the constitutions of our forefathers. This is most troubling. More to follow in the next post on that subject.

  4. Yep I am not Bryan Brown. Bryan you appear to be a bigger believer in the Constitution than I am. Were I still a big believer then I might be using my real name like you. Personally, I am no longer a fan of secularism. I favor the confessional state. In religious mattes, it seems to me that social diversity is chaos and conflict, while uniformity is order and peace.... secularism has been imposed by America on other nations now by force and that has not exactly worked out very well.... I think the American historical experiment with disestablishmentarianism is withering on the vine before our eyes..... Since I do not know if that is OK for an officially licensed lawyer to say, I keep the nom de plume.

  5. I am compelled to announce that I am not posting under any Smith monikers here. That said, the post below does have a certain ring to it that sounds familiar to me: http://www.catholicnewworld.com/cnwonline/2014/0907/cardinal.aspx

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