Conviction affirmed for intoxicated woman found in parked, running vehicle

The Indiana Court of Appeals has affirmed the conviction of a woman who was found intoxicated in her running but parked vehicle, finding sufficient evidence to support that she was operating the vehicle at the time law enforcement found her.

After she was found passed out in her vehicle following a night of drinking,

Jackelin Ramirez was convicted of Class A misdemeanor operating a vehicle with an alcohol concentration equivalent of at least 0.15 gram of alcohol per 100 milliliters of blood.

Ramirez appealed her conviction in Jackelin Andrea Ramirez-Vera v. State of Indiana,19A-CR-1368, arguing, among other things, that there was insufficient evidence to support that she was operating a vehicle when officers found her intoxicated in a parked but running vehicle.

Ramirez asserted that the state could only rely on the presumption that she had operated her vehicle with an alcohol concentration equivalent to more than 0.15 if it could prove that she had operated her vehicle at some point after 9:25 p.m., three hours before she took a blood test at 12:25 a.m., which she argued the state failed to do.

“Specifically, she asserts that the evidence demonstrates that she had stopped operating her car sometime before (Nick) Templeton found her, which was as early as 9:00 p.m. We cannot agree,” Judge Edward Najam wrote for the appellate court. “…(W)hile the evidence demonstrates that she may have parked her car as early as 9:00 p.m. and that the car was in the same location when Deputy (Garrett) Hoppock responded to the 9-1-1 call, ‘the State does not have to prove movement of the car.’”

Thus, the appellate court concluded the state did present sufficient evidence from which a reasonable fact-finder could conclude that Ramirez was operating her vehicle when Hoppock arrived at her location at 10:53 p.m.

“Accordingly, the blood test, which was administered less than three hours later at 12:25 a.m., was timely conducted within three hours after Deputy Hoppock had probable cause to believe that she had committed an offense, and, as such, the State presented sufficient evidence to support her conviction,” the appellate court wrote.

Additionally, it found no abuse of discretion in the state’s foundation for the admission Ramirez’s blood test results upon concluding that she failed to preserve that issue for appellate review. Likewise, the appellate court found Ramirez was not in custody when she made her pre-Miranda statements to Hoppock that she had been drinking and pulled over to sleep.

Thus, the trial court did not err when it admitted those statements as evidence, the appellate court concluded in affirming her conviction.

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