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. Well, maybe it's because they are unelected, and, they have a tendency to strike down laws by elected officials from all over the country. When you have been taught that "Democracy" is something almost sacred, then, you will have a tendency to frown on such imperious conduct. Lawyers get acculturated in law school into thinking that this is the very essence of high minded government, but to people who are more heavily than King George ever did, they may not like it. Thanks for the information.

  2. I pd for a bankruptcy years ago with Mr Stiles and just this week received a garnishment from my pay! He never filed it even though he told me he would! Don't let this guy practice law ever again!!!

  3. Excellent initiative on the part of the AG. Thankfully someone takes action against predators taking advantage of people who have already been through the wringer. Well done!

  4. Conour will never turn these funds over to his defrauded clients. He tearfully told the court, and his daughters dutifully pledged in interviews, that his first priority is to repay every dime of the money he stole from his clients. Judge Young bought it, much to the chagrin of Conour’s victims. Why would Conour need the $2,262 anyway? Taxpayers are now supporting him, paying for his housing, utilities, food, healthcare, and clothing. If Conour puts the money anywhere but in the restitution fund, he’s proved, once again, what a con artist he continues to be and that he has never had any intention of repaying his clients. Judge Young will be proven wrong... again; Conour has no remorse and the Judge is one of the many conned.

  5. Pass Legislation to require guilty defendants to pay for the costs of lab work, etc as part of court costs...

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