Posts tagged with "foundation"

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

In a 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.

Case Background

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 Charges

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.”

Admissibility of Chemical Analysis Evidence

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).

Written by Lindsay E. Raber, Esq.

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

Defendant’s Motions to Suppress Evidence from Urinalysis and Field Sobriety Tests After Boating Incident

Case Background

This case arose from a boating incident that occurred on July 8, 2007. The defendant consumed six ounces of bourbon whiskey over the course of approximately an hour and a half, and then traveled down the Connecticut River on his motorboat. The river was extremely crowded with other vessels due to the holiday. At 3:46pm, the defendant was traveling at 30 knots (or 34.5mph) when he fell out of the boat, which then struck a nearby sailboat and killed one of the passengers.

The defendant was quickly rescued, and brought to the dock an hour after the accident. Police officers on the scene observed the defendant as unsteady, disoriented, and confused, and had slurred speech, bloodshot eyes, and an odor of alcohol. While the officers conducted a series of field sobriety tests, for which they received extensive training, the defendant became belligerent and argumentative. After the tests were complete, the defendant was brought to the police station, where officers conducted two urinalysis tests at 5:56pm and then 6:30pm.

The Charges

The defendant was charged with reckless operation of a vessel while under the influence of intoxicating liquor or drugs, second-degree manslaughter, and seven other counts in violation of various General Statutes. The defendant filed three motions to suppress the urinalysis tests, to suppress evidence of the field sobriety tests, and to request a Porter hearing to determine whether the urinalysis procedure used by Connecticut agencies was proper.

General Statutes § 15-140l makes it a crime to recklessly operate a vessel while under the influence of intoxicating liquor or drugs. A person may be charged in the first degree if, while under the influence, they operate a vessel in such a way that it results in serious physical injury to others or damages property in excess of $2,000. “Operate” in this context means that “the vessel is underway or aground and not moored, anchored or docked.”

Alcohol Analysis Evidence

Evidence that is used to establish the amount of alcohol or drug in the defendant’s blood or urine is admissible under General Statutes § 15-140r(a), as long as the test occurred within two hours from the operation of a vessel. In this case, the urinalysis tests were taken more than two hours after the accident. Therefore, the Superior Court granted the defendant’s motion to suppress this evidence.

Evidence derived from field sobriety tests is admissible so long as the State lays the foundation that the testing officer “is qualified to perform the tests, and that the tests were conducted in substantial accord with relevant procedures and standards.” That is to say, officers do not need to perform the tests perfectly, because ideal conditions are not always present. In this case, the officers testified as to the extent of their training, and the defendant had ample opportunity to cross-examine them. Because this was a matter of the weight of the evidence and not its admissibility, the Court denied the defendant’s motion in limine to suppress this evidence.

In State v. Porter, the State Supreme Court ruled that where a party objects to scientific evidence offered by the other party, the burden rests with the proponent to establish that the evidence is admissible. Generally, evidence will be admissible so long as it tends to support a relevant fact and is neither prejudicial nor cumulative. The Porter court held that scientific evidence should only be inadmissible if “the methodology underlying such evidence is sufficiently invalid to render the evidence incapable of helping the fact finder determine a fact in dispute.”

Testing for the Presence of Alcohol 

Connecticut recognizes three methods of testing for the presence of alcohol – blood, breath, and urine – and each of these methods is statutorily recognized as reliable for legal purposes. Thus, “[o]nce a scientific process or methodology has been approved after a Porter analysis, it can be admitted in subsequent cases without a second Porter-type analysis.” In this case, because urinalysis is statutorily approved, the defendant did not have a right to a Porter hearing. Therefore, his motion for this hearing to determine the admissibility of the chemical urinalysis was denied.

When faced with a charge of operating a motor vehicle or vessel while intoxicated (a.k.a. driving under the influence), 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

Written by Lindsay E. Raber, Esq.