Traffic Accident Virginia Strong Odor Blood Alcohol Lawyers Russell County

Traffic Accident Virginia Strong Odor Blood Alcohol Lawyers Russell County

TERRY JOE LYLE v. COMMONWEALTH OF VIRGINIA
Facts:

On March 24, 2004 at 7:53 a.m., the Virginia State Police received a telephone call from a citizen reporting a traffic accident on Castlewood Run Road in Russell County. State Trooper J.D. Anderson found a car suspended across a creek adjacent to the highway. The engine was running, and the car was still in gear with the driver’s side door open. There was no one in the car or in the vicinity. Trooper Anderson drove approximately three hundred feet down the road and saw Lyle standing in the middle of the road. When he approached Lyle, Trooper Anderson noticed a strong odor of alcohol coming from Lyle. He also testified that Lyle’s speech was extremely slurred. Trooper Anderson initially asked Lyle to perform some field sobriety tests, but stopped after concluding that Lyle was so unsteady that it would be unsafe for him to attempt to perform any of the tests. At trial, Lyle objected to the introduction of the blood test results arguing that he had not been arrested prior to his blood being drawn at the hospital. More than three hours after the accident, the officer served defendant with a uniform traffic summons for driving under the influence. The trial court overruled the objection and permitted introduction of the blood test results, which showed Lyle’s blood alcohol content was 0.23% by weight by volume. The jury found defendant guilty of driving under the influence as a fourth or subsequent offense, in violation of Va. Code Ann. § 18.2-266. Defendant appealed.

Traffic Accident Virginia Strong Odor Blood Alcohol Lawyers Russell County

Traffic Accident Virginia Strong Odor Blood Alcohol Lawyers

Issue:
  • Whether the trial court error in admitting into evidence the results of the analysis?
Discussion:

There was overwhelming evidence introduced at trial showing that Lyle was under the influence of alcohol. When Trooper Anderson stopped Lyle, Anderson detected a strong odor of alcohol emanating from Lyle. On cross-examination, Trooper Anderson described Lyle as “extremely drunk” and Lyle’s speech as “extremely slurred” and “difficult to understand.” Based on this record, we conclude the verdict would have been the same in the absence of the blood test results. Even if admission into evidence of the blood test results was error because defendant was not arrested within three hours of driving under the influence, the error was harmless; it held that other evidence of defendant’s intoxication was so compelling that any error in admitting the blood test results did not affect the outcome.

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Article written by A Sris

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Disclaimer:

These summaries are provided by the SRIS Law Group. They represent the firm’s unofficial views of the Justices’ opinions. The original opinions should be consulted for their authoritative content.