By Antoinnette Borbon
In a brief trial against Michael Matthew Montoya, who has been charged with a misdemeanor DUI along with enhancements for excessive blood alcohol levels, DOJ Senior Criminalist Angela Stroman gave lengthy but articulate expert testimony.
In many DUI cases it is often the blood alcohol levels in question and/or the effects, the impairments of influence. Some defense attorneys even question the accuracy of in-field testing machines that can sometimes be contaminated or inaccurate.
In a very descriptive narration on the stages of intoxication, impairment and blood alcohol absorption, Ms. Stroman explained to jurors the requisite factors. These factors, she stated, must be considered when making a determination about levels.
She explained, “A lot depends on how much alcohol is one drink, ounces and a person’s body weight, contents of the stomach and body chemistry.” Explaining that each individual is different so it is often difficult to be exact, she said that “it is several factors we look at.” Stroman explained, through the use of experiments on individuals put through a series of tests, “we are able to see the effects at different levels.”
More specifically, she defined the blood alcohol level of .04 as being a first stage of intoxication. At this level, an individual could drive home safely. But at a level of .08, things get dangerous because, at that point for the majority of folks, the impairment of vision, reflexes, judgment and clarity are affected.”
Stroman explained how, sometimes within an hour, the blood alcohol level can rise from absorption, giving a higher reading – although that does not necessarily mean they consumed more alcohol than they said they did.
According to Yolo County Sheriff’s Deputy Robert Harbaugh, Mr. Montoya was out celebrating Davis’s Picnic Day 2016. He had only consumed six beers by 2:20 pm but, by 3:53 pm, his blood alcohol level reached 1.78.
In his opening statement to jurors, Deputy District Attorney Alex Kian described a young man who, after drinking 6 beers at Picnic Day, left Davis driving a black Honda that he later crashed. He said, “The defendant told a deputy that his girlfriend was driving but she was not present on scene. Witnesses say she was not driving.”
Mr. Kian told jurors that the defendant failed all tests, having a blood alcohol level of 1.78. an excessive level.
Deputy Harbaugh described seeing a car on County Road 98. He testified to seeing a young man standing outside a black Honda Civic as he arrived on scene. It was off to the side of the road, crashed. He said, “The keys were still in the car and the man was standing near it.”
The young man told him that his girlfriend left in an Uber to go get her father. Deputy Harbaugh stated that “he appeared unsteady, had bloodshot eyes and smelled of alcohol.”
Once his girlfriend arrived back at the scene, Mr. Montoya reportedly asked the deputy if he could leave. He then made an attempt to walk over to her, pushing aside another officer who had arrived.
It was after he attempted to walk over to his girlfriend that Montoya was quickly handcuffed and put into the deputy’s car.
Deputy Public Defender Aram Davtyan asked jurors to “give his client the presumption of innocence,” asserting that “my client was not the one driving.” Mr Davtyan explained to jurors that on April 16, “there was a window of time not explained.”
One witness testified to taking his girlfriend to the scene shortly after the incident happened. A dormmate and friend said she has known the defendant and his girlfriend from school and the dining commons where the defendant works.
Two more witnesses are expected to testify and the case is anticipated to be turned over to jurors by late afternoon on Tuesday.
Mr. Montoya is charged with two misdemeanors plus the enhancements for excessive alcohol levels.