ROBERT G. LEEKA, APPELLANT
STATE OF ARKANSAS, APPELLEE
APPEAL FROM THE WASHINGTON COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT. NO. CR 2014-493-1. HONORABLE WILLIAM A. STOREY, JUDGE.
Keith, Miller, Butler, Schneider & Pawlik, PLLC, by: Andrew R. Miller and Mason L. Boling, for appellant.
Dustin McDaniel, Att'y Gen., by: Laura Kehler Shue, Ass't Att'y Gen., for appellee.
COURTNEY HUDSON GOODSON, Associate Justice. HANNAH, C.J., and DANIELSON, J., dissent.
COURTNEY HUDSON GOODSON, Associate Justice
The Washington County Circuit Court found appellant Robert Leeka guilty of the offense of driving while intoxicated (DWI) and sentenced him to one day in jail. For
reversal, Leeka claims that the circuit court erred in ruling that the Omnibus DWI Act of 1983 does not require proof of a culpable mens rea. We agree, and reverse and remand.
The Springdale District Court initially heard Leeka's case and found him guilty of DWI. Leeka appealed to the Washington County Circuit Court. Before the circuit court, Leeka and the State filed stipulated facts with the court, in which the parties agreed to the facts contained in the Springdale Police Department Arrest Report, the results of Leeka's breathalyzer test, a toxicology report from the Arkansas State Crime Laboratory, and an opinion letter from Dr. Joyce Simon.
The arrest report recounts the events leading to Leeka's arrest as follows. On August 5, 2013, Springdale police officer Thomas Gregory responded to a call regarding a possible intoxicated driver. Gregory observed Leeka's vehicle driving recklessly, swerving, and running a red light. After initiating a traffic stop of Leeka, Gregory approached Leeka's window. The report notes that " the driver looked extremely confused and very lethargic." Gregory inquired if Leeka had been drinking or taking any prescription drugs, and Leeka replied that he had taken an allergy medication and a prescription pain medication. Gregory then asked Leeka to step out of the vehicle, and while attempting to exit the vehicle, Leeka lost his balance and fell against the car. Gregory reported that Leeka was very unsteady on his feet and continued to lose his balance. Ultimately, Gregory placed Leeka under arrest for DWI. Once at the police station, Leeka agreed to submit to breath and blood tests for intoxicating substances.
In addition to the police report, the parties also stipulated to the results of Leeka's breathalyzer test, which reported a 0.00 alcohol level, and the toxicology report from his blood analysis, which showed only the presence of the drug zolpidem, a sleep medication more commonly known by its brand name, Ambien. The toxicology report showed no other intoxicants.
The parties also stipulated to a medical-opinion letter issued by Dr. Simon, in which she stated her opinion that Leeka " experienced a complex sleep behavior . . . namely sleep-driving, which is a known adverse reaction to Ambien." The stipulated facts also stated, " It is the Plaintiff's State of Arkansas/City of Springdale, position that a violation of ACA 5-65-103 Driving while Intoxicated is a strict liability crime, where it is the Defendant's, Robert Grant Leeka, that a mental state is required."
On the day following the filing of the stipulated facts, the circuit court issued a letter opinion in which it found that no culpable mental state was required for the DWI offense and ruled that the stipulated facts provided sufficient evidence to demonstrate that Leeka had violated the DWI act. Thereafter, the court held a sentencing hearing, at which it ...