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Alley v. State

Court of Appeals of Arkansas, Division I

January 28, 2015

MICHAEL DALE ALLEY APPELLANT
v.
STATE OF ARKANSAS APPELLEE

APPEAL FROM THE BENTON COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT [NO. CR-12-880] HONORABLE ROBIN F. GREEN, JUDGE

Norwood & Norwood, P.A., by: Doug Norwood and Alison Lee, for appellant.

Dustin McDaniel, Att'y Gen., by: Kent Holt, Ass't Att'y Gen., for appellee.

RAYMOND R. ABRAMSON, Judge

Michael Dale Alley appeals his conviction of second-offense driving while intoxicated (drugs) from the Benton County Circuit Court. Alley was sentenced to thirty days in the Benton County jail with twenty-three days suspended, ordered to pay $300 in court costs and a $20 booking fee, and fined $750. On appeal, Alley asserts that the circuit court erred when it denied his motion to suppress, overruled his Arkansas Rule of Evidence 403 objections, and denied his motion for a directed verdict. We affirm.

On October 28, 2011, Benton County Deputy Sheriff Jason Wood stopped Alley's vehicle on suspicion that Alley was driving while intoxicated. After performing a traffic stop and administering three field-sobriety tests, Deputy Wood arrested Alley.

Alley was later convicted in the Rogers District Court of second-offense DWI. He appealed his conviction to the Benton County Circuit Court. In the Benton County Circuit Court, Alley filed a motion to suppress the results of the field-sobriety tests. A suppression hearing was held, and the circuit court denied Alley's motion.

On January 8, 2014, a bench trial was held. Deputy Wood testified for the State. He stated that on October 28, 2011, he saw Alley in the parking lot of a restaurant known to serve alcohol and observed him having difficulty exiting the lot in his vehicle. He then saw Alley driving erratically on the road. Deputy Wood explained that after seeing Alley's erratic driving, he stopped Alley's vehicle and asked Alley for his license and registration. He testified that Alley located the documents but looked at them for several minutes before passing them over. Deputy Wood testified that Alley then admitted that he had been drinking and had taken a Klonopin tablet earlier in the evening. Deputy Wood also noted that, during their conversation, Alley exhibited slurred speech.

Deputy Wood administered a breathalyzer on Alley, and the test showed less than .08% breath alcohol. Deputy Wood then directed Alley to perform three field-sobriety tests. Specifically, Alley performed the one-leg-stand, walk-and-turn, and horizontal gaze nystagmus tests. Deputy Wood testified that Alley failed all three tests, and a video shown at trial depicts Alley having difficulty with his balance. After administering the tests, Deputy Wood arrested Alley. Following his arrest, Alley gave a urine sample, which was sent to the Arkansas State Crime Lab.

The State introduced the urine-sample reports into evidence, and Danny Sanders, the chemist who completed the urine-sample reports, testified about the sample. Sanders stated that the sample tested positive for tramadol, promethazine, codeine, dihydrocodeine, and alprazolam. However, he stated that he did not test the urine to see how much of each drug was contained in the sample. Sanders further testified that he could not determine from the sample when Alley ingested the drugs but that it could have been as long as two or three days prior to his arrest. Alley objected to the introduction of the urine-sample reports, arguing that the reports violated Arkansas Rule of Evidence 403. Alley made this objection four times, and the circuit court overruled each of Alley's objections.

At the conclusion of the State's case, Alley moved for a directed verdict, and the circuit court denied it.[1] The court then convicted Alley of second-offense DWI under Arkansas Code Annotated section 5-65-103(a) (Repl. 2005). Alley now appeals his conviction, asserting that the trial court erred when it (1) denied his motion to suppress the field-sobriety tests; (2) overruled his Arkansas Rule of Evidence 403 objections; and (3) denied his motion for a directed verdict for insufficient evidence.

I. Motion for Directed Verdict

A motion for directed verdict is a challenge to the sufficiency of the evidence, which we consider before any other points on appeal. Graham v. State, 2012 Ark.App. 90, at 5, 389 S.W.3d 33, 36. Alley contends that the State presented insufficient evidence to establish his intoxication by drugs in violation of Arkansas Code Annotated section 5-65-103(a). The test for determining the sufficiency of the evidence is whether the verdict is supported by substantial evidence, direct or circumstantial. Id. Substantial evidence is evidence of sufficient force and character that will, with reasonable certainty, compel a conclusion one way or the other without resort to speculation or conjecture. Id. In reviewing a challenge to the sufficiency of the evidence, this court views the evidence, including any that may have been erroneously admitted, in the light most favorable to the State and considers only the evidence that supports the conviction. Id.

Under Arkansas Code Annotated section 5-56-103(a), it is unlawful for any person who is intoxicated to operate or be in actual physical control of a motor vehicle. "Intoxicated" means influenced or affected by the ingestion of alcohol, a controlled substance, any intoxicant, or any combination of alcohol, a controlled substance, or an intoxicant, to such a degree that the driver's reactions, motor skills, and judgment are substantially altered and the driver, therefore, constitutes a clear and ...


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