Posts tagged with "DUI"

State Lawmaker Involved in Car Accident Lawsuit Accused of Drunk Driving

A personal injury lawsuit filed this week accuses Connecticut State Rep. Christina Ayala of fleeing the scene of an accident caused by her own drunk driving, according to a report from the Norwich Bulletin.

Sources say the lawsuit, filed by 26-year-old Krystal Valez, claims that Ayala was under the influence of alcohol when she ran her car into a vehicle driven by Valez. The lawsuit also alleges that Ayala fled the scene of the accident.

The accident in question occurred last August, when Ayala’s 2007 Nissan Sentra allegedly struck a 2002 Honda Accord being driven by Valez.

Ayala allegedly fled the scene of the accident, but a person who witnessed the crash followed her car and eventually forced her to pull over about six blocks from the location of the collision, according to sources.

When Ayala was questioned by officers after the accident, she claimed that she tried to check on Valez following the collision, but that she decided to leave the scene because she felt “scared” due to the presence of a man who was screaming at her.

Interestingly, when police took Ayala into custody, they did not test her for alcohol, because they claimed she did not appear to be intoxicated. Nevertheless, the lawsuit filed by Valez alleges that Ayala was drunk at the time of the crash.

The plaintiff claims that she suffered back injuries and a concussion as a result of the accident, and that her medical costs amount to roughly $11,000.

Valez, however, will have to refute the testimony of Ayala’s father, Alberto Ayala, who claims that his daughter had not been drinking before the accident, according a statement given to the Connecticut Post.

Of course, Alberto Ayala has every incentive to make this claim, because not only is he the driver’s father, he is also named as a defendant in the car accident lawsuit.

Unfortunately for Christina Ayala, a native of Bridgeport, Connecticut, the pending personal injury lawsuit is the least of her legal concerns.

Sources say Ayala, who is serving her first term in the state legislature, was officially charged with failing to renew her driver’s registration, failing to obey a traffic signal, and evading responsibility.

During her latest court hearing, Ayala was told by her judge that she could accept a plea bargain offered by prosecutors or stand trial for her criminal counts.

Under the plea deal, Ayala would receive a suspended sentence and have an extended period of probation. Sources say Ayala has three weeks to make her choice.

By JClark, totalinjury.com

At Maya Murphy, P.C., our experienced team of personal injury attorneys is dedicated to achieving the best results for individuals and their families and loved ones whose daily lives have been disrupted by injury.  Our personal injury attorneys assist clients in New York, Bridgeport, Darien, Fairfield, Greenwich, New Canaan, Norwalk, Stamford, Westport, and throughout Fairfield County. If you have any questions relating to a personal injury claim or would like to schedule a free consultation, please contact our Westport office by phone at (203) 221-3100 or via e-mail at JMaya@Mayalaw.com 

Woman Injured in Rail Crash Files Train Accident Lawsuit

A 65-year-old woman who was injured in a dramatic train crash last month in Connecticut has filed a negligence lawsuit against Metro-North Railroad, according to a report from ABC News.

Sources say the woman, Elizabeth Sorenson, a resident of Bridgeport, Connecticut, suffered multiple bone fractures and remains in critical condition as doctors tend to a severe brain injury.

The lawsuit was the first claim filed by a victim of the crash that occurred on May 17. According to sources, the crash injured more than 70 people.

Sorenson’s personal injury attorney told sources that he filed the lawsuit in federal court in order to gain access to witnesses that observed the accident and to allow families of the victims to become involved in the investigation.

Sources expect more lawsuits to eventually be filed in the wake of the massive train accident, which happened at 6:10 p.m. on a weekday as the train carried 300 passengers from New York’s Grand Central Station to New Haven, Connecticut.

The train reportedly derailed near a highway overpass in the town of Bridgeport, and was then struck by a train holding 400 passengers that was headed the opposite direction.

The damage caused by the accident was “absolutely staggering,” according to Connecticut Senator Richard Blumenthal, as he observed the scene. Sources say parts of the roof of some of the train cars had been torn off, and that some of the tracks were noticeably twisted.

Three people remain in critical condition after the accident, and the National Transportation Safety Board has launched a full investigation into the wreck.

Thus far, investigators have yet to isolate the cause of the accident, but the impact was so severe, some passengers initially thought it may have been caused by a bomb.

“We came to a sudden halt. We were jerked. There was smoke. People were screaming; people were really nervous. We were pretty shaken up. They had to smash a window to get us out,” said one passenger traveling from New York.

Another passenger told local sources that they “went flying” and reported that “one entire compartment was completely ripped open.”

Most of the 70 passengers who were injured received prompt treatment at the site of the accident, but three victims are still in critical condition, according to reports.

According to report from train officials, the tracks involved in the collision suffered “extensive infrastructure damage,” and the train involved in the accident will “need to be removed by crane” following a thorough investigation.

By JClark, totalinjury.com

At Maya Murphy, P.C., our experienced team of personal injury attorneys is dedicated to achieving the best results for individuals and their families and loved ones whose daily lives have been disrupted by injury.  Our personal injury attorneys assist clients in New York, Bridgeport, Darien, Fairfield, Greenwich, New Canaan, Norwalk, Stamford, Westport, and throughout Fairfield County. If you have any questions relating to a personal injury claim or would like to schedule a free consultation, please contact our Westport office by phone at (203) 221-3100 or via e-mail at JMaya@Mayalaw.com 

After-School Program Liable for Child’s Death

Five-year-old Anyah Raven Glossinger was legally blind and had low-functioning autism. On January 23, 2008, she was found underwater in a mineral pool where she was taking therapy. She died the next day and investigators ruled her death accidental. A jury, however, just ruled that the children’s center was responsible and awarded her father $400,000 in damages.

She lived in Cathedral City, California with her mother, Emily Wereschagin. After her lessons in a special education kindergarten class at a local school, Anyah participated in the “Little Bridges” after-school program. As part of the program, Anyah took part in hydrotherapy, a common activity and exercise for people with autism.

In July of that year, Anyah’s father, Michael Glossinger, filed a wrongful death lawsuit against practically everyone connected to Anyah’s death, including the local school district, three workers at the Little Bridges program and the foundation that operated the program. According to his suit, everyone involved knew Anyah was blind and autistic, yet failed to give her a life vest and the proper supervision, and so she drowned. Recently, a jury agreed and awarded Glossinger $400K to compensate for his past and future loss of Anyah’s companionship.

As California attorney Jon Mitchell Jackson explains, “Anyah’s father was likely able to introduce evidence at trial showing the loss he experienced up to the trial date without having Anyah in his life. The missed meals, playtimes and birthdays. Everyday experiences that would put a smile on any parent’s face and a song in their hearts. He also likely introduced evidence of reasonably anticipated future harm (loss of future companionship) by sharing with the jury the time he would have spent with Anyah had it not been for her untimely and tragic death. His future Thanksgivings will not include her presence and the beautiful smile of his little girl.”

Absence Doesn’t Matter

According to Glossinger’s own testimony, he lived in Mill Valley, California, about 500 miles from Anyah and her mother. He didn’t visit her very often, either. He testified, however, that shortly before Anyah’s death, he and Wereschagin agreed on and made arrangements for him to come and visit Anyah.

During the trial, defense attorneys questioned both parents about their parenting and custody arrangements, perhaps in an effort to make the jury believe that Glossinger’s suit was a more about a “money grab” than vindicating the death of his child. If indeed that was a defense strategy, it didn’t work – the jury saw a father who lost a daughter. Estranged as he may have been, Anyah was still Glossinger’s child, and he had every right to sue for her wrongful death.

Lessons Learned

Glossinger’s motive aside, the jury’s verdict should put childcare workers on notice, or at least remind them of, their duties to protect and safeguard those who are left in their care. Whether they’re special needs children or not, facilities and programs for after-school activities have the legal responsibility to provide safe physical surroundings, as well as adequate adult supervision. Programs such as Little Bridges that cater to special needs individuals and likely receive state and/or federal funding usually have stricter rules to follow, such as licensing and training for workers and facilities.

Parents Take Heed, Too

“While filing suit for monetary damages will never make the grieving family whole again,” explains Simon Johnson of the Ohio-based Simon W. Johnson Law Office, “it is the only remedy available at law that can create some closure and finality to their tragedy.” And, while it may sound naive to some, a goal of any wrongful death suit is to make sure the same tragic mistakes don’t happen again – either by the same person or company or others who perform the same services.

In Anyah’s case, California’s Department of Social Services stepped in a few months after Anyah’s death and shut down Little Bridges. There’ll be no more victims of neglect there. Glossinger’s suit takes things a step farther and, hopefully, childcare programs in California and elsewhere are taking steps to make sure a similar tragedy doesn’t happen with them.

Parents need to take steps, too, to prevent the unthinkable from happening to their children. “To be safe, parents should always assume the worst when entrusting their child’s safety to others,” advises Mr. Jackson. In pools and other swimming situations, make sure the facility has the proper number of trained lifeguards and safety devices (locked fences) available and in place. In other activities, make sure people are correctly trained and equipment is properly maintained. How do you do this? You ask questions and even more important, you make sure you get answers.”

As a parent whose child participates in any sort of after-school activity, when was the last time you asked yourself, “Is my child safe?” Take it upon yourself to:

  • Talk to other parents, friends, neighbors and staff at your child’s school about the program, especially anything good or bad they may know about it
  • Visit the program or facility in person and speak with the people running it. Ask about their backgrounds, experience and training
  • Ask if program employees have undergone background checks
  • Check with your state and local social services agencies and local school boards to make sure programs, facilities and workers are properly licensed and if any complaints have been filed against them
  • Drop in unexpectedly from time to time to see how your child is being treated and supervised during the program. Better yet, volunteer some of your time and see how day-to-day operations really work

There’s no information about whether or not Anyah’s parents did any of these things, and of course, there’s no guarantee the tragedy could have been avoided even if they had. We owe it to our children, though, to do what we can to avoid tragedies like Anyah’s and to hold people accountable when the unimaginable happens.

By: Dave Baarlaer, Lawyers.com

At Maya Murphy, P.C., our experienced team of personal injury attorneys is dedicated to achieving the best results for individuals and their families and loved ones whose daily lives have been disrupted by injury.  Our personal injury attorneys assist clients in New York, Bridgeport, Darien, Fairfield, Greenwich, New Canaan, Norwalk, Stamford, Westport, and throughout Fairfield County. If you have any questions relating to a childcare negligence or injury, a wrongful death claim or a personal injury claim or would like to schedule a free consultation, please contact our Westport office by phone at (203) 221-3100 or via e-mail at JMaya@Mayalaw.com 

$825,000 Verdict for Injuries from Truck Accident

In a recent personal injury trial in the Stamford Superior Court a woman received $825,000 for injuries to her head and neck suffered in a collision with a large truck.

The case involved a motor vehicle accident whereby, the plaintiff, Mrs. Hutter, was hit from behind by a large beer truck owned by DiChello Distributors. As a result of the collision, Mrs. Hutter sustained a number of serious injuries including injuries to her head and neck. She also sustained a mild traumatic brain injury.

During the course of a three week trial, the plaintiff presented a substantial number of witnesses to establish the significance of the impact and the extent of the injuries. The experts included an accident reconstruction expert from Maryland, a bio-mechanical expert from Virginia, a neurologist, a psychiatrist and a neuro-psychologist.

In addition to the various expert witness, Mrs. Hutter also presented testimony from her friends who knew her before the time of the accident and were able to explain to the jury the significant change in Mrs. Hutter that occurred as a result of the incident.

After three weeks of evidence, the jury deliberated for two and one-half days and then rendered a verdict in favor of Mrs. Hutter in the amount of $825,000 including over $500,000 for compensation for her pain and suffering.

At Maya Murphy, P.C., our experienced team of personal injury attorneys is dedicated to achieving the best results for individuals and their families and loved ones whose daily lives have been disrupted by injury.  Our personal injury attorneys assist clients in New York, Bridgeport, Darien, Fairfield, Greenwich, New Canaan, Norwalk, Stamford, Westport, and throughout Fairfield County. If you have any questions relating to a personal injury claim or would like to schedule a free consultation, please contact our Westport office by phone at (203) 221-3100 or via e-mail at JMaya@Mayalaw.com 

Flood of Lawsuits Suggests New York Hospital a ‘Deathtrap’

One of New York’s hospitals faces mounting criticism and risks losing federal and state healthcare funding because of widespread complaints of medical errors and shoddy practices.

In October, after a tragedy unfolded at Brookdale Hospital when a newborn died after he was admitted to the emergency room with a fever, an investigation by the city’s medical examiner determined that six month-old Amaan Ahmmad died because he was mistakenly given an adult dose of an antibiotic.

Since then, scrutiny of the hospital’s safety record exposed that Brookdale is defending a slew of lawsuits against it for medical malpractice. According to the New York Daily News, the once-respected Brooklyn hospital has over 100 live lawsuits against it for various acts of substandard care. A state department of health investigation uncovered multiple violations ranging from untested smoke detectors to misidentified blood samples to unsafe conditions for preventing airborne infections.

And a year ago, the hospital’s CEO David Rosen stepped down amid corruption allegations. He was later tried and convicted of trying to bribe three state politicians in return for beneficial treatment of the hospital. State politicians are now calling for changes to the leadership and management of the hospital.

On the legal front, some victims of the hospital’s alleged negligence will have a more difficult road to getting justice, thanks to a new state law.

The same month that baby Amaan died, the state legislature passed a tort reform statute that forces parents who sue over their newborn’s birth-related neurological injuries to put any winnings from such a lawsuit into a state fund.

‘Didn’t do very basic things’

Two lawsuits against Brookdale Hospital – both ending in patient deaths – hint at some of the underlying problems at the beleaguered medical center.

In one case, an elderly patient developed bedsores that went untreated by doctors and nurses until she died shortly after.

Nora Stephens, a 92 year-old grandmother who moved to New York after a tough life of sharecropping in Virginia, entered the hospital with her “skin intact,” but developed pressure ulcers on her feet that worsened so quickly to Stage IV ulcers that she developed an infection and gangrene on both feet. Before she could have her feet amputated, she died.

“They didn’t do very basic things to take care of an elderly person not able to get out of bed,” such as turning her every two hours to make sure she did not develop ulcers, said Matthew Gammons, an attorney for Stephens’ relatives.

In a second case, Gammons alleges the hospital’s delayed treatment caused the death of a teenager who arrived at the emergency room with a head injury.

Eighteen year-old Corey Ray appeared “awake, oriented and agitated” when he was brought to the hospital by EMTs after being beaten up at a nearby park.

According to Gammons, the hospital breached normal practices by waiting two and a half hours to give the injured boy a CT scan, then delayed getting him a neurosurgeon for another five and a half hours. In addition to the delay, the neurosurgeon missed two other areas of bleeding in the boy’s brain and a post-operative CT scan wasn’t done until 10 hours after surgery, the lawsuit claims.

“By the time they read the scans, he had a massive hemorrhage in the back of his brain. They missed the ball. … To me, it epitomizes the lack of thoroughness of this hospital,” said Gammons.

He added that he will be looking into whether understaffing and lack of available specialists played a role in the two tragedies.

‘Radical’ New law

The number of lawsuits against a hospital may only represent a fraction of actual errors that take place.

“There may be hundreds of more legitimate cases that have not been brought and hospitals are never accountable for in terms of negligence,” said Joanne Doroshow, an attorney and consumer advocate.

It can be difficult for patients to find out about the history of a hospital, although consumers can look online to check if an individual doctor has a malpractice or disciplinary record, she added.

Recently, many hospitals say they have no money to improve patient care and have moved to cut back on patients’ legal rights, according to Doroshow. For example, for the youngest victims of medical errors in New York, a new law will make their families jump through another hoop to get future medical bills paid. The law requires that money damages awarded for future medical costs of babies who are injured during birth because of medical error go into the state fund. Doroshow criticized it as “a radical piece of legislation that severely cuts back on liability of hospitals when an injury to a newborn is birth-related.”

Besides forcing families who fight and win the long legal battle for their loved ones to then “beg” for money from the state to cover their child’s medical expenses, the new law is bad for patient safety because it takes away a financial incentive for hospitals to feel accountable, she said.

By: Sylvia Hsieh

At Maya Murphy, P.C., our experienced team of personal injury attorneys is dedicated to achieving the best results for individuals and their families and loved ones whose daily lives have been disrupted by injury.  Our personal injury attorneys assist clients in New York, Bridgeport, Darien, Fairfield, Greenwich, New Canaan, Norwalk, Stamford, Westport, and throughout Fairfield County. If you have any questions relating to a medical malpractice claim, hospital negligence, or personal injury claim or would like to schedule a free consultation, please contact our Westport office by phone at (203) 221-3100 or via e-mail at JMaya@Mayalaw.com

$98,000 Settlement for Neck and Back Injuries after Broad-sided by Drunk Driver

A Southbury resident received a $98,000 settlement of his lawsuit stemming from an accident where his vehicle was hit by an intoxicated motorist in a “hit and run” accident.     

The automobile collision happened on a local road in Southbury, Connecticut. The drunk driver defendant was operating a Ford F350 pickup truck which belong to the owner of an excavation company.

The intoxicated motorist crossed over the center of the road into the plaintiff’s travel lane causing the motor vehicle crash.  The plaintiff was forced off the road after being broadsided by the drunk driver.

While the defendant motorist fled the scene, he was later arrested by the Connecticut State Police and charge with DUI.

As a result of the accident the plaintiff suffered neck strain, headaches, lower back strain and tinnitus.  He was treated by a chiropractic physician for her neck and lower back strain and a neurologist for his headaches and tinnitus.  The lawsuit against the intoxicated excavator was settled for $98,000 to cover medical cost and property damage.

At Maya Murphy, P.C., our experienced team of personal injury attorneys is dedicated to achieving the best results for individuals and their families and loved ones whose daily lives have been disrupted by injury.  Our personal injury attorneys assist clients in New York, Bridgeport, Darien, Fairfield, Greenwich, New Canaan, Norwalk, Stamford, Westport, and throughout Fairfield County. If you have any questions relating to a personal injury claim or would like to schedule a free consultation, please contact our Westport office by phone at (203) 221-3100 or via e-mail at JMaya@Mayalaw.com 

 

Jury Orders Strip Club to Pay $10M for DUI Fatality

Eric Brent Crutchfield was over-served at the club and ran over the victim in the parking lot.

A Dallas strip club has been blamed for a fatal drunk driving accident that killed a young woman in March 2011. A jury awarded the woman’s family $10 million.

After a night at the Spearmint Rhino Gentlemen’s Club, Eric Brent Crutchfield left the club around 2 a.m. heavily intoxicated, jumped into his illegally souped-up Ford truck and ran over 23-year-old Kasey McKenzie, who was walking through the parking lot.

Her parents, Gary and Karen, brought a wrongful death civil suit against Crutchfield and the strip club for over-serving its customer.

According to a toxicology report, Crutchfield’s blood alcohol level was twice the legal limit.

The couple’s attorney, Michael Schmidt, argued that employees at the strip club continued to serve Crutchfield even after he was “obviously intoxicated” and “presented a clear danger to himself and others.”

In addition, Crutchfield was driving with a suspended license and his Ford F-250 had illegal customized changes, including oversized wheels, a lift kit, illegal headlights and tinted windows. Police said that as a result, the vehicle was too high off the ground and obstructed his view.

After he struck McKenzie, he drove off without knowing he hit anyone. Several witnesses had to run after him to stop him.

The jury pinned 70 percent of the blame on the strip club for over-serving Crutchfield and 30 percent on Crutchfield himself.

Crutchfield is behind bars after a criminal trial in which he pleaded guilty to manslaughter in McKenzie’s death. He had already been on probation for possession of steroids. After the manslaughter conviction, a judge revoked his probation and sentenced him to 10 years.

By: Sylvia Hsieh

At Maya Murphy, P.C., our experienced team of personal injury attorneys is dedicated to achieving the best results for individuals and their families and loved ones whose daily lives have been disrupted by injury.  Our personal injury attorneys assist clients in New York, Bridgeport, Darien, Fairfield, Greenwich, New Canaan, Norwalk, Stamford, Westport, and throughout Fairfield County. If you have any questions relating to a motor vehicle accident, wrongful death claim, or personal injury claim or would like to schedule a free consultation, please contact our Westport office by phone at (203) 221-3100 or via e-mail at JMaya@Mayalaw.com 

 

Court Denies DUI Convict’s Request for Declaratory Judgment; License Suspensions Complied with Applicable Statutes

In a recent criminal law matter, a Superior Court of Connecticut found in favor of the defendant Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) after the plaintiff unsuccessfully asserted his claims of equal protection and due process violations following his license suspensions.

In this case, the plaintiff was arrested for operating a motor vehicle while under the influence (OMVUI) of alcohol in violation of Connecticut General Statutes (CGS) § 14-227a. Police notified the DMV of the arrest, who held an administrative license suspension hearing. The hearing officer found that the plaintiff refused to submit to a chemical alcohol test, among three other considerations, and pursuant to CGS § 14-227b(i), ordered that the plaintiff’s driver’s license be suspended for six months.

The plaintiff fully served this administrative suspension before pleading guilty to OMVUI. In connection with this criminal conviction, the DMV ordered that the plaintiff’s driver’s license be suspended for twelve months in accordance with CGS § 14-227a(g). Plaintiff’s counsel requested a “credit” of six months in light of the administrative suspension, but the DMV denied this request. DMV practice allows administrative and criminal suspensions to run concurrently for whatever period of overlap exists, as long as they arose from the same incident. However, it is not DMV policy to issue credits against new suspensions when prior ones have already been fully served.

The plaintiff sought declaratory judgment, arguing that the DMV’s actions were unconstitutional. He first alleged that the DMV policy violated equal protection because it “confers a benefit on those able to serve some or all of their suspensions concurrently, while denying that benefit to those who must serve them consecutively.” The plaintiff further contended that his procedural due process rights were violated because the DMV did not advise him of the practice, thus depriving him of being able to make an informed decision regarding when to plead guilty.

Equal protection directs that similarly situated people be treated alike. This clause is implicated when a statute “either on its face or in practice, treats persons standing in the same relation to it differently.” The threshold inquiry for a reviewing court is whether a petitioner is “similarly situated for purposes of the challenged government action.” However, the equal protection clause does not prohibit a government entity from treating those who are not similar in a dissimilar manner. In this case the Superior Court found that the plaintiff was similarly situated to drivers who have completed one suspension when the other is imposed, not drivers who were serving one suspension when subject to a second. Because the plaintiff failed to meet his burden proving dissimilar treatment, his equal protection claim failed.

To establish a due process violation, a plaintiff must prove “1) that he has been deprived of a property interest cognizable under the due process clause; and 2) that deprivation occurred without due process of law.” In this case, the Court readily agreed that deprivation of a driver’s license clearly satisfies the first prong, but the plaintiff’s claim failed with respect to the second element. The suspensions were imposed in accordance to guidelines set forth in CGS §§ 14-227a and 14-227b, and the plaintiff did not provide any support for “for the proposition that the [DMV] was obligated to give him notice of the [DMV’s] practice.” Therefore, the plaintiff’s due process claim also failed, and his request for declaratory judgment was denied.

When faced with a charge of operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated (a.k.a. driving under the influence) or license suspension, an individual is best served by consulting with an experienced criminal law practitioner. Should you have any questions regarding criminal defense, please do not hesitate to contact Attorney Joseph C. Maya in the firm’s Westport office in Fairfield County at 203-221-3100 or at JMaya@Mayalaw.com.

Written by Lindsay E. Raber, Esq.

In Light of Recently Decided Precedent Regarding Breath Tests, Court Affirms Judgment in Pending DUI Appeal

In a recent criminal law matter, the Appellate Court of Connecticut considered whether a court improperly denied a defendant’s motions in limine to exclude toxicology evidence that he argued did not comply with statutory requirements.

This case arose from an incident that occurred after midnight on July 10, 2004. The defendant was driving his vehicle on the Merritt Parkway when he drove off the Exit 38 off-ramp and hit multiple trees before coming to a stop. A Norwalk police officer arrived and observed the defendant outside the vehicle, but the defendant denied that he was the driver. Soon thereafter, a state trooper arrived and made the following observations of the defendant: the smell of alcohol, red glassy eyes, and a cut on his hand and lip. He concluded that the defendant was the driver, and administered field sobriety tests, which the defendant failed.

The defendant was brought to the state police barracks in Bridgeport and asked when he started to drink. He responded he consumed four beers at a restaurant in Stamford beginning at 10pm the night before and stopped drinking after the accident occurred. He additionally noted that he did not have anything to eat since breakfast the morning before. The defendant submitted to two breath tests on the Intoxilyzer 5000 machine, which resulted in blood alcohol content readings of 0.225 and 0.209, both more than two-and-a-half times the legal limit.

The defendant was charged with operating a motor vehicle with an elevated blood alcohol content, which violated Connecticut General Statutes (CGS) § 14-227a(a)(2). Before trial, he submitted several motions in limine exclude the Intoxilyzer results, claiming that the tests “did not comply with state regulations in force at the time of the incident.” The court denied the motion, noting that the breath tests performed in this case were in compliance. The defendant plead nolo contendere (no contest), and after sentencing he appealed his conviction. He argued that the court improperly denied his motion because “the apparatus reports blood alcohol content in terms of weight per volume percent and not a weight per weight percent.”

After the defendant’s initial brief was submitted, but prior to adjudication of this appeal, the Appellate Court published its decision in State v. Pilotti, 99 Conn. App. 563 (2007). In Pilotti, the facts were substantially the same and the defendant made the same argument as presented in the case at bar. The Pilotti Court noted that the legislature intended to include breath testing under CGS § 14-227a(b), not just blood testing, and further wrote:

[CGS] § 14-227a(b) requires the state to establish as a foundation for the admissibility of chemical analysis evidence that the test was performed with equipment approved by the department of public safety. It does not require … that the device satisfy the criteria set forth in the regulations.

In other words, evidence will not be deemed inadmissible where “testing that complies with the regulatory requirements is deemed to be competent evidence.” Thus, in the case at bar, the Appellate Court found that Pilotti was controlling, and because this case was nearly identical, it held that use of the Intoxilyzer 5000 machine satisfied the statutory requirements of CGS § 14-227a(b).

When faced with a charge of operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated (a.k.a. driving under the influence) or license suspension, an individual is best served by consulting with an experienced criminal law practitioner. Should you have any questions regarding criminal defense, please do not hesitate to contact Attorney Joseph C. Maya in the firm’s Westport office in Fairfield County at 203-221-3100 or at JMaya@Mayalaw.com.

Written by Lindsay E. Raber, Esq.

Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus Denied, as DUI Convict’s Claims Lacked Merit

In a recent criminal law matter, a Superior Court of Connecticut considered a petition for a writ of habeas corpus, in which the petitioner claimed that there was insufficient evidence to convict him of DUI and that he received ineffective assistance of counsel.

This case arose from an incident that occurred on the evening of December 24, 2005. State troopers on routine patrol observed the petitioner driving his vehicle erratically and initiated a traffic stop. The petitioner admitted that he consumed a few beers, but would not answer any follow-up questions. He smelled of alcohol, had slurred speech and glassy eyes, and had trouble handling his license and papers. Because the petitioner had one leg, troopers could only administer the horizontal gaze nystagmus (HGN) test, which the petitioner failed. He was arrested and transported to barracks, where he was belligerent and argumentative. In the processing room, the petitioner was seen slumped over his chair.

The petitioner was charged with operating a motor vehicle while under the influence (OMVUI) of alcohol, in violation of Connecticut General Statutes § 14-227a(a)(1). At trial, he was represented by the Chief Public Defender, a veteran in the practice of law. The petitioner wanted a bench trial for reasons of expediency, even though defense counsel both advised against this decision and explained the ramifications of waiver. In formulating a defense strategy, counsel chose to minimize the testimony regarding the HGN test. He was not convinced that asserting a head injury would discredit such testimony, and felt a motion to suppress would be unsuccessful. Defense counsel robustly cross-examined all of the troopers, and the petitioner agreed to testify on his own behalf regarding his head injury.

Nonetheless, the petitioner was convicted of OMVUI and sentenced to two years incarceration, one year probation, and 500 hours of community service. However, he did not appeal his decision and instead filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus. The petitioner argued that there was insufficient evidence to convict him of OMVUI, that his constitutional right to a jury trial was violated, and that he received ineffective assistance of counsel, among other claims.

In a bench ruling, the Superior Court was not persuaded by any of the petitioner’s claims and denied his petition. It noted that even absent the HGN test evidence, there was sufficient evidence to prove the petitioner committed OMVUI. The petitioner knowingly, intelligently, and voluntarily waived his right to a jury trial: indeed, it was the petitioner who insisted on a bench trial, and defense counsel properly explained the consequences of going this route. Finally, the Court believed that petitioner failed to prove the existence of deficient performance by counsel and prejudice in the outcome of his case. Defense counsel employed sound trial strategy and zealously advocated on behalf of his client. As the Court explained, “An analysis of the record below indicates an experienced trial attorney who was not successful when faced with a strong case presented by the state.”

When faced with a charge of operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated (a.k.a. driving under the influence) or license suspension, an individual is best served by consulting with an experienced criminal law practitioner. Should you have any questions regarding criminal defense, please do not hesitate to contact Attorney Joseph C. Maya in the firm’s Westport office in Fairfield County at 203-221-3100 or at JMaya@Mayalaw.com.

Written by Lindsay E. Raber, Esq.