Four Expert Witnesses Testify at DUI Misdemeanor Trial, Evidence Questioned

By Ramneet Singh and Ivan Villegas

WOODLAND, CA – “You did not write a report on this case?” Deputy Public Defender Danielle Craig queried Woodland Police Sergeant Dallas Hyde during cross-examination in a drunk driving trial earlier this week in Yolo County Superior Court.

“I did not,” admitted Hyde.

The accused, who will not be named by The Vanguard because it’s a non-felony case, is charged with two counts of driving under the influence, two counts of drunk driving, and two counts of driving with a suspended license or refusing to take a test, with four enhancements of excessive blood alcohol content.

Without a report to reference, DPD Craig stated, “I have no way of knowing if that’s your [Sgt. Hyde’s] actual memory, or if that’s based on your discussions with other officers or review of your body worn camera.”

DPD Craig then asked Hyde what the initial call was that led him to arrest the accused, and he explained the original call he was responding to was not the drunk driving case.

Woodland Police Officer Juan Barrera took the stand, and it became clear there was a gap between what was physically reported and what the officers reported on the stand.

Officer Barrera stated, “his [the accused] eyes were bloodshot and watery…it looked like he was going to fall over,” after he conducted the field sobriety tests on the accused.

However, after DPD Craig began questioning him, Officer Barrera testified there was one empty beer can found on the driver’s side of the vehicle but he did not include mention of this beer can in the police report.

DPD Craig reminded him that “when cases are charged we all have to rely on that report,” and, “if your report is supposed to be true and accurate, you’re supposed to report everything you witnessed.”

Officer Barrera, like Sgt. Hyde, testified the initial call they were responding to was not the drunk driving case. “We were on a separate call responding, but I don’t remember what the [initial] call was.”

Woodland Police Officer Nahum Nava responded to questions about what he understood to be “records of both the evidential breath test and the accuracy checks conducted on the PEBT device.”

In cross-examination, Nava confirmed his only connection was conducting “the accuracy check.”

In redirect, Deputy District Attorney Aaron Rojas asked questions about Title 17, “in regard to the amount of time that’s supposed to be required in between evidentiary breath tests.” Nava replied that it was two minutes.

Senior Criminalist Kimberly Sand replied to questions concerning alcohol absorption and field sobriety tests. She stated that “you have to look at the totality of the clues.”

Later, Sand said, “My opinion is that as a person’s blood alcohol concentration increases, then their ability to safely operate a motor vehicle will decrease.”

For the rest of his questioning, DDA Rojas posed hypotheticals with specific variables, with some involving a 0.22 BAC.

Within that, Sand answered “peak (BAC) can be anywhere from 15 to 45 minutes at the end of their last sip of alcohol.”

One hypothetical concerned calculating BAC before a test, which Sand referred to as a “retrograde extrapolation,” and the information necessary, including that alcohol needed to be “fully absorbed.”

DDA Rojas asked for her opinion in a situation where “a person was found unconscious in his vehicle, and it was running, and it was parked in the middle of an intersection, and that person was giving off the odor of alcohol, had red watery eyes, and slurred speech.”

Sand replied that “my opinion would be that that person would be too impaired to safely operate a motor vehicle.”

With that information, Rojas asked about that person taking field sobriety tests. With the other facts, Sand’s opinion was similar.

At some point, the defense asked whether “these hypotheticals are meaningless for purposes of a DUI if you don’t know when the person drove,” to which Sand replied, “Sure.”

Sand responded that her back calculation referred to some point before a test, but affirmed DPD Craig’s question that in these investigations the important time is the “time of driving.”

Sand confirmed that her answer to the hypotheticals referred to what Craig described as the “present.”

The trial will proceed tomorrow.

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