CRIMINAL (DUI): LEWIS V. COMMONWEALTH (COA 1/5/2007)

LEWIS V. COMMONWEALTH
CRIMINAL:  DUI; Field sobriety tests
2005-CA-002408
PUBLISHED: AFFIRMING; VANMETER
DATE RENDERED: 1/5/2007

On discretionary review,
CA affirmed Defendant’s conviction for DUI.  CA was faced with a number
of evidentiary issues.

1.        Whether
testimony concerning procedures such as the one-leg stand and the
walk-and-turn constitutes lay opinion that is rationally based upon the
perception of the witness and is helpful to a clear understanding of a fact
in issue, or whether such testimony constitutes expert opinion in the form
of scientific, technical, or other specialized knowledge which requires a Daubert
hearing to qualify the witness as an expert witness.  Having concluded
that the one-leg stand and walk-and-turn procedures are correctly
categorized as standard field sobriety procedures which are not grounded in
scientific terms, CA held that any testimony regarding these types of
procedures is within a layperson’s common understanding, and a law
enforcement officer should be allowed to testify as to his observations of a
defendant when performing these procedures.

2.       
Whether police can use certain terms such as “test,” and “fail,”
when testifying as to opinions regarding suspect’s performance during
the standard field sobriety procedures.  CA agreed that these terms
should not be employed, but held it was not reversible error for the
trial court to allow the use of the terms during this trial.

3.       
Whether police can offer opinion concerning whether suspect is under the
influence.  Here, CA held TC did not abuse its discretion in
allowing police to give his lay opinion that Defendant was intoxicated based
upon the common observations of slurred speech, blood-shot eyes, and the
odor of alcohol.

Digested by
Scott
Byrd

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