Driver Pleads Not Guilty to DUI Charges, Found Guilty by Jury

By Sydney Kaplan

SACRAMENTO, CA – Jacey Pasquetti plead not guilty to drunk driving here Tuesday in Sacramento County Superior Court despite several sobriety tests providing evidence stating otherwise.

After a three-day trial she was found guilty of two misdemeanor counts.

In the early morning hours of Dec. 15, 2020, Sacramento Police Officers Brian Rogers and Louis Ramos noticed a car pulled over on the side of the road.

When Rogers and Ramos approached the vehicle, Pasquetti was in the driver’s seat. Almost instantly, Rogers noted objective signs of intoxication on Pasquetti, including red and watery eyes, slow and slurred speech, and the odor of alcohol.

Before she pulled over, Pasquetti was heading home from a night club “near the capital”—she allegedly had attended the club with friends but was driving home alone. Pasquetti’s tire appeared to have popped and she was waiting on the side of the highway for help.

Initially, Pasquetti admitted to the officers that she had one shot of liquor. Later, Pasquetti corrected herself to two shots. As Pasquetti was in the police car headed to the station she was recorded saying, “Okay fine, you want the truth, I had three shots. It just hit me really hard because I did not have a lot to eat.”

Pasquetti’s car was towed and Pasquetti was taken back to the station. In routine inventory of Pasquetti’s car before the tow truck arrived, Officer Ramos found an open bottle of alcohol.

At the police station, around 3:21 a.m., Pasquetti had a BAC of .13 percent as reported by a Draeger Alcohol Breathalyzer. Pasquetti was objectively intoxicated by the time she reached the station, but there was some ambiguity because of the timeline.

Deputy District Attorney Michael Brady alleged Pasquetti was only on the side of the road for around three minutes, while Defense Attorney Larenda Delaini stated Pasquetti was alone for much longer.

Delaini argued Pasquetti became exceedingly anxious in the time between her tire popping and police officers checking in on her. This anxiety prompted Pasquetti to retrieve the open bottle of alcohol from her car and take several swigs.

In addition, Delaini argued that the victim’s anxiety was only increased by the arrival of police officers causing the defendant to be “near hysteria” at the time of testing. According to Delaini, the later consumption of alcohol and increased anxiety is a factor in Pasquetti failing the field sobriety tests.

Despite Pasquetti’s anxiety, Officer Rogers stated he was attempting to remain fair in his testing during his testimony. Pasquetti’s night club clothes, including heels, combined with the slanted ground near the car would have made any field test exclusively testing balance unfair.

As a result, Officer Rogers testified he refrained from balance tests. Rather, Rogers used the finger-touch test, horizontal gaze, and modified Romberg test. Rogers admitted the Romberg test involves balance, however, he stated it tests the defendant’s body clock and focus as well.

Rogers’ observed results of these field sobriety tests, combined with the defendant’s red and watery eyes, slurred speech, and odor of alcohol was cause enough to call Pasquetti into the station. Officer Roger was able to test the defendant’s blood alcohol content at the station after explaining the concept of implied consent to Pasquetti.

However, the defense continued to insist Pasquetti’s intoxication occurred after the defendant had stopped driving. According to attorney Delaini, Pasquetti was already anxious and thought having an open container of alcohol in the car would get her into even more trouble, so she omitted mentioning the open container of alcohol previously.

Disagreeing, Officer Rogers felt as though Pasquetti seemed surprised when the open container of alcohol was uncovered.

An audio recording of Pasquetti, after she realized the open container of alcohol had been found, quoted her saying, “Oh my God [A friend] left that in here last week… Yes, [it] changes things. You’re not supposed to have an open container in the car.”

The police report created by Officers Ramos and Rogers neglected to mention the open container of alcohol found in the car. Delaini suggested this oversight may have been intentional, however, she did not push this point.

The prosecution responded to timeline arguments, however, they continued to emphasize the results of the field sobriety tests, blood alcohol test, and the objective signs of intoxication that were observed.

Additionally, DDA Brady focused on Pasquetti’s changing story. Most notably was how she admitted to more shots as the night went on. The defense stuck with its timeline argument in an attempt to provide reasonable doubt to the jury.

After part of three days in trial, Pasquetti was found guilty of two misdemeanor counts related to DUI and was sentenced to 10 days Sheriff’s Work Project, and three years informal (no reporting) probation.

Sydney Kaplan is an incoming third-year at Santa Clara University. As a Political Science major with Journalism & Economics minors, her biggest passion is exploring the various intersections between her fields of study. Currently, she is most interested in comparative media policy and criminal justice reform.

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