COURT WATCH: Defense Claims in DUI Trial Officer Failed to Collect Evidence to Confirm Car Crash Theory

By Sofia Hosseinzadeh and Jonathan Nuñez 

WOODLAND, CA – During a jury trial this week in Yolo County Superior Court involving a car crash with a driver under the influence, a California Highway Patrol Officer admitted to not taking photographs of the scene or collecting evidence that may have aided in determining if the accused was indeed driving under the influence.

On the evening Oct. 22, 2021, the court stated the accused crashed their car on Westbound I-5. The left side of her car was hit, resulting in windshield damage and a head injury suffered by the accused. The accused admitted to having two drinks before entering the vehicle, but claims she was not driving the car.

In one officer’s testimony, he theorized the accused actually drove the vehicle at the time of the crash because only one airbag deployed, one seatbelt was used, and the hair found on the left side of the windshield looked similar to the hair of the accused.

The officer said he did not take photographs at the scene after being queried by Defense Attorney Brandon Hintz, who stated, “Well, if there are important facts that you want to document wouldn’t you tell him to take those photographs or are you relying on (the other officer) to figure that out?”

Defense Attorney Hintz continued to question the officer’s crash theory, specifically the claim that only one airbag being deployed meant the accused had to have been the driver, noting that there is a feature in cars that allows the passenger airbag to be turned off.

“You did not take a photograph or document anything about a switch being turned off or on?” asked Hintz. The officer said no photos were taken, meaning the airbag settings of the car at the time of the crash is unknown.

Defense Attorney Hintz then targeted the hair found on the windshield, noting, “Did you collect that hair sample? Did you direct anyone to collect that hair sample?”

Defense Attorney Hintz questioned the officer’s actions further, asking him, “Why wasn’t (the hair sample) necessary to collect? Because it didn’t go with your theory?” And he added, “So if it supports your theory, you will collect it? But if it doesn’t, you won’t collect it?”

The trial is ongoing.

About The Author

The Vanguard Court Watch operates in Yolo, Sacramento and Sacramento Counties with a mission to monitor and report on court cases. Anyone interested in interning at the Courthouse or volunteering to monitor cases should contact the Vanguard at info(at)davisvanguard(dot)org - please email info(at)davisvanguard(dot)org if you find inaccuracies in this report.

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