COA finds double-jeopardy in drunken man’s hit-and-run conviction

Keywords Courts / Double Jeopardy

A man who was convicted of drunkenly running down a patron with his car outside a Connersville bar will still spend the same amount of time behind bars, but the Indiana Court of Appeals found several of his convictions violated protections against double jeopardy.

Jordan B. Wadle was convicted of multiple counts after he was arrested outside Connersville with a blood alcohol level of 0.14. Officers had been looking for Wadle after he had been in a confrontation with several people outside a bar that ended when he drove his car in reverse through a crowd of people, then drove his car into a patron who had turned to go back inside. The victim suffered serious injuries that required nearly three months in hospitals and a rehabilitation center.

Wadle was convicted in Fayette Superior Court of Level 3 felony leaving the scene of an accident, Level 5 felony operating a vehicle while intoxicated causing serious bodily injury, Level 6 felony OWI endangering a person, and Class C misdemeanor operating a vehicle with an alcohol concentration equivalent of 0.08 or more. He was sentenced to 14 years executed in the Department of Correction.

The COA found several of Wadle’s OWI convictions violated his protections against double jeopardy under Guyton v. State, 771 N.E.2d 1141, 1143 (Ind. 2002). The panel ordered those convictions vacated while noting that doing so will not impact Wadle’s sentence.

"(U)nder the common-law test adopted in Guyton, Wadle’s convictions for leaving the scene of an accident (as elevated to a Level 3 felony), OWI causing serious bodily injury, OWI endangering a person, and operating a vehicle with an ACE of 0.08 or more constitute impermissible double jeopardy,” Judge Paul Mathias wrote. 

“This eliminates any double jeopardy issues with these convictions and the conviction for leaving the scene of an accident while keeping Wadle’s sentence at sixteen years, with two years suspended to probation. This leaves in place Wadle’s conviction and sentence for Level 3 felony leaving the scene of an accident,” the panel concluded.

Additionally, the COA found that Wadle’s convictions of Level 3 felony leaving the scene of an accident and Level 5 felony OWI causing serious bodily injury constitute double jeopardy because the evidence establishing the elements of the elevation of the conviction for leaving the scene (committing the offense of OWI causing serious bodily injury) was the same evidence used to establish the elements of his conviction for OWI causing serious bodily injury.

The case is Jordan B. Wadle v. State of Indiana, 18A-CR-1465. 

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