Brief Fact Summary.
Officer Hatch received information that Defendant was driving erratically. He found the Defendant driving his vehicle on the road. Eventually, Officer Hatch and Sergeant Hayes stopped Defendant. Defendant appeared very disorientated.
Synopsis of Rule of Law.
The Government has the burden of proving with actual or circumstantial evidence that the defendant was driving under the influence at that time of arrest.
A motorist alerted Officer Gary E. Hatch that another motorist was driving erratically. Officer Hatch heard a crashing sound and saw a black sports utility vehicle hit construction barrels. The vehicle was identified to belong to Defendant, Clifton Davis. After the vehicle hit the construction barrels, Defendant swerved back into the right travel lane, hitting three or four more barrels. Officer Hatch continued to pursue Defendant, who was driving approximately 65mph, and observed Defendant swerve while driving. Officer Hatch put his emergency lights on, and Defendant increased his speed to 75-80mph. At one point, Defendant was approaching a commercial truck and pushed his breaks to avoid contact, which caused his vehicle to swerve sideways. Thereafter, Defendant tried to get on the left lane, where Officer Hatch was, causing Officer Hatch to swerve to the side to avoid contact. Eventually, Sergeant Williams E. Hayes activated his emergency lights and positioned himself in front of Defendant to try to slow him down. Later, Defendant stopped his vehicle and Officer Hatch and Sergeant Hayes approached the vehicle. Defendant appeared to be disorientated and non-responsive, but not combative. Defendant was taken into the United States Park Police Station for processing. When asked for his name and home address, he was not responsive and did not appear that he could provide the information. Due to his unresponsiveness, Officer Hatch did not believe he could conduct a sobriety test. Defendant was placed in detention, and a couple of hours later began to speak normally.
Whether the Government has proved that the Defendant was driving under the influence.
No, the Government failed to meet its burden of proving that Defendant was driving under the influence.
The Government has the burden of proving â€œ(1) that Defendant was operating or was in actual physical control of the vehicle, that defendant was under the influence of alcohol, or a drug, or drugs, or any combination there of, and (3) to a degree of intoxication that render Defendant incapable of sale operation.â€ Therefore, the government has a burden to prove that the defendant was under the influence of the time of the scene. In this case, the Government does not introduce evidence of a chemical analysis to support the finding that Defendant was under the influence of alcohol while driving. Further, the chemical analysis performed rules out the possibility that Defendant was under the influence of PCP, LSD, or another hallucinogenic drug. Rather, the only evidence the Government has introduced is that the Defendant had marijuana in his system in unspecified concentrations. The fact that the Defendant appeared inebriated alone does not support a conviction that he was driving under the influence. Therefore, the court held the Government must provide evidence, not simply state that Defendant’s version of the events â€œare a series of self-serving denials.â€