By Danielle Eden C. Silva
The DUI case against Rebecca Marie Tauzer convened in Department 13, calling in two witnesses this morning.
The first witness to appear at the stand had been the one to call the police.
The witness revealed he had been driving around a familiar area for awhile before seeing a minivan-like car with the brake lights on parked in a ditch at an angle. He mentioned he was familiar with the area due to growing up there, and he identified it as a two-lane county road with a deep ditch on the side. The witness, however, mentioned that, as it was late in the day, he may have given an incorrect location as to where he spotted the vehicle. He had seen the minivan while driving by and, after finding a shoulder to pull off onto, called dispatch. The witness, therefore, couldn’t park immediately, so there was a period of time between seeing the vehicle and parking. He wasn’t sure if there was someone unconscious in the car or if it was a car accident, but he knew other cars had been rubbernecking slightly as he was driving by. No other cars had pulled over.
After his testimony, the witness was excused and told he was subject to recall.
The arresting officer was called to the stand. At the time of the arrest, he had been four months into night shifts. Prior to working as a deputy, he had been a security guard at Cache Creek Casino and had enlisted in the military. As military personnel, he had received training in driving patterns and mental and physical impairments of people under the influence.
On October 22, 2016, the officer had been sent by dispatch to the intersection of Highway 16 (County Road 98) and Woodland Avenue for a vehicle crash. The officer, not seeing any vehicle as was reported in the
call, decided to check the highway north of the given location. Here, he noticed a white SUV with four doors, nose first into a ditch. The lights of the car were off. He parked his police vehicle, which had been using the siren and lights, to examine the SUV closer. In his experience, the turn the car had apparently attempted to make would have been too sharp. After checking the passenger side, the officer noticed a man and a woman approaching him. The officer identified that woman as the defendant.
As the officer spoke to her he noticed the smell of alcohol on her breath. He asked if she was hurt and she said no. The officer himself did not see any injuries. He then asked Ms. Tauzer if she had been drinking: the first time she denied it but the second time she admitted to it. The officer described Ms. Tauzer’s stance as rigid and uneasy on her feet. The defendant then revealed the vehicle was hers, but she was not forthcoming on where she had been coming from.
The officer then decided to test her sobriety. He attempted to examine the alcohol content of her breath five or six times but she appeared rigid and let out small breaths. The machine used required that she exhale in greater amounts.
After several failed attempts at compliance, he decided to try other field sobriety tests, about which he had a small sheet to use as a guide. He attempted to examine her eyes with a flashlight but she constantly looked away. The next test consisted of her walking a certain number of steps from heel to toe and then turning. The officer did note that he explained it incorrectly, but provided an example of “heel to toe” which the defendant claimed she understood. However, she walked normally instead of heel to toe and stumbled on her first turning attempt, catching herself. She did the test a second time but she miscounted her number of steps. Throughout her walk, she had been swaying.
The officer then requested she do another sobriety test, where she was to stand on one leg. She noted she had a broken rip and sciatica, and the officer asked her to clarify the latter. She questioned his knowledge of a person with sciatica, before calling him a rookie and attempting to approach other officers which the officer had called to the scene. She was told to return, due to the darkness of the street possibly presenting a danger to her.
When she returned, she failed to do the one leg stand. The officer then proceeded with a test where she closed her eyes and pressed the tip of the index finger of the hand he mentioned to her nose.
The officer noted these tests were intended to test memory skills of simple instructions, balance, and other physical and mental impairments from alcohol. He determined her performance qualified her as someone who was under the influence and escorted her to the bathroom of her home, a desire she had expressed during the tests, before bringing her to the station. In her home, he encountered two other women.
The officer concluded that the test performance, her problems recalling where she came from that night, and her lack of forthrightness led him to believe she was under the influence.
The court was then excused for the lunch break.