In a recent decision from an Arizona appeals court, the court upheld a DUI conviction for an individual after the arresting officer’s death. The defendant was convicted of two counts of aggravated driving under the influence, two counts of aggravated driving with an illegal drug in his body, and possession of drug paraphernalia and possession of marijuana. He was sentenced to four months in prison and probation. The defendant argued that his Sixth Amendment rights were violated when the arresting officer could not testify against him after the officer’s death.
According to the court’s opinion, before the defendant was arrested, two sheriff’s officers, Deputy Davis and Deputy Gil, responded to a 911 call in Tucson and found the defendant in a stopped vehicle in the middle of the road, with the engine still running. The defendant was sleeping in the driver’s seat. Deputy Davis administered field sobriety tests, arrested the defendant, and obtained a telephonic search warrant to draw his blood. Testing showed that marijuana and oxycodone were present in the defendant’s blood.
Deputy Davis died before the defendant’s case went to trial, and Deputy Gil was the only officer to testify at the trial. While Deputy Gil was being questioned at trial, the prosecution asked her how she would administer the field sobriety tests (FSTs). Because Deputy Davis had administered the tests in this case, the defendant objected as to the relevance of Gil’s administration of FSTs. The court allowed her to demonstrate the walk-and-turn and one-leg stand FSTs despite the objection.