By Mengyu Yang
FRESNO – Could wearing shorts on a chilly October night be an excuse to perform poorly on a field sobriety test?
This was a question Fresno County Superior Court Judge Samuel Dalesandro had to answer late last week in the case of Jonathan Schutt, who was found driving recklessly on a city street.
In the end, Judge Dalesandro found that wearing shorts doesn’t excuse defendant Schutt from his DUI-related charges.
After the police officer pulled him over, the officer observed the defendant had blood-shot eyes, blurred speech, and was unsteady on his feet with a strong alcohol smell emanating from him.
The defendant, said the officer, performed poorly on all four field sobriety tests. However, the testifying officer stated that for the single leg standing test, he had the defendant stand up on one leg for 30 seconds—the standing lasted 40 seconds. The officer responded to this discrepancy, as he could have made some typos in his report.
Both whether there was an additional 10 seconds to the standing test and whether that additional 10 seconds would cause a significant difference in the officer’s accessing of the result remain unclear.
Private defense counsel Jonathan Rooker argued that the defendant did drive rapidly, but was able to control the vehicle, adding that the defendant was wearing shorts on a chilly October night, which could affect the defendant’s ability to perform the tests.
The court found that, under the totality of the circumstance such as the defendant’s bloodshot eyes, smelling of alcohol, slurred speech and poor performance on other tests, wearing shorts on a chilly October night could not excuse the defendant from a DUI.
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