The Defendant was a commercial airline pilot. Previously, he was a fighter pilot of the U.S. Navy with numerous successful missions over North Vietnam. At the time of his arrest for DUI, he had no prior criminal record.
On the night in question, the arresting officer was dispatched to the scene of an accident on the outer wall of an exit on Highway 285. Unbeknownst to the responding officer, the radio dispatcher had given an improper location of the accident. The evidence showed that due to this mistake, it took police almost an hour to arrive at the scene. Upon arrival, the officer testified that the Defendant was injured, disoriented and had a strong odor of alcohol on his breath. A positive reading on the alco-sensor along with several broken beer containers located outside the vehicle confirmed the officer’s belief that alcohol had been consumed by the Defendant. Based on that belief, an arrest was made. Following the arrest, the Defendant submitted to a breath test on the Intoxilyzer 5000 with the result of .155.
At pre-trial motions, defense counsel argued that the Intoxilyzer 5000 machine was not properly approved via the Administrative Procedures Act (APA). The judge ruled that although the State of Georgia had not complied with all the APA rules in adopting the machine, the breath test of .155 was nevertheless admissible. Defense counsel was granted a certificate of Immediate Review. After almost a year, the Court of Appeals held that even though all the APA rules were not complied with, the Defendant’s breath test was still admissible because the State had "substantially complied" with the rules. Consequently, the case was sent back down to the Clayton County State Court for trial after a lengthy delay.
The theory of the Defendant’s case was that indeed, no alcohol was consumed by the Defendant prior to or during driving the car. Rather, alcohol was only consumed after the accident to quell the pain resulting from the Defendant breaking his hand.
At trial, the most devastating testimony against the State came when the Defendant took the witness stand. His highly emotional testimony confirmed that he had only consumed alcohol after the accident to alleviate the pain in his hand that had become unbearable during the lengthy wait for the police to arrive at the scene. The Defendant further told the jury that this sort of "pain management" behavior was consistent with his military pilot’s training in Vietnam.
During cross examination, the Defendant remained adamant about his innocence and in a credible fashion withstood a barrage of critical questions presented by the prosecutor.
After a two day trial, the jury deliberated for 25 minutes. They found the Defendant not guilty of two counts of DUI and one count of Failure to Maintain Lane. At the conclusion of the trial, the Solicitor expressed her disbelief in the verdict with the members of the jury. The jurors politely informed her that they found the Defendant’s testimony to be "perfectly credible."
The Defendant was represented by GACDL member George Stein of Atlanta.