106 P.3d 436 (Idaho 2005), 30842, State v. Robinett

Docket Nº:30842.
Citation:106 P.3d 436, 141 Idaho 110
Opinion Judge:TROUT, Justice.
Party Name:STATE of Idaho, Plaintiff-Respondent, v. Richard ROBINETT, Defendant-Appellant.
Attorney:Law Offices of Todd S. Richardson, PLLC, Lewiston, for appellant. Todd S. Richardson argued. Hon. Lawrence G. Wasden, Attorney General, Boise, for respondent. Kenneth K. Jorgensen argued.
Judge Panel:TROUT,
Case Date:January 28, 2005
Court:Supreme Court of Idaho
 
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Page 436

106 P.3d 436 (Idaho 2005)

141 Idaho 110

STATE of Idaho, Plaintiff-Respondent,

v.

Richard ROBINETT, Defendant-Appellant.

No. 30842.

Supreme Court of Idaho, Boise.

January 28, 2005

Page 437

[141 Idaho 111] Law Offices of Todd S. Richardson, PLLC, Lewiston, for appellant. Todd S. Richardson argued.

Hon. Lawrence G. Wasden, Attorney General, Boise, for respondent. Kenneth K. Jorgensen argued.

TROUT, Justice.

This is an appeal from a jury verdict convicting Richard Robinett (Robinett) of aggravated driving under the influence (DUI) and vehicular manslaughter.

I. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

On May 11, 2001, Robinett, his daughter Patricia Robinett (Patricia), and his brother-in-law Russell Lawrence (Lawrence), were drinking at a bar in Lewiston. At 2:25 a.m., they left in Robinett's car with Robinett driving, Patricia in the front passenger seat and Lawrence in the back seat. At a curve in the road, the car went off the road and collided with several trees. Police were notified at approximately 3:00 a.m. and at the scene they found Robinett outside the vehicle. Patricia was trapped inside the car and Lawrence was found dead, lying across the front passenger seat. Robinett's blood was drawn for a blood alcohol content (BAC) test approximately two hours after the accident and a second blood test was drawn about one-half hour later. The result of the first test was between .135 and .165 and the result of the second test was .12.

The State charged Robinett with aggravated DUI and vehicular manslaughter and elected to prosecute the DUI solely on the basis that Robinett was driving impaired and not as a per se violation of the statute based on the BAC results. Robinett's defense was that he was not intoxicated at the time of the accident and that, even if intoxicated, his driving was not the cause of the accident. Robinett presented evidence that Lawrence became angry with Robinett, reached forward from the back seat and grabbed Robinett, causing him to lose control of the vehicle.

At trial, the district judge denied Robinett's motion in limine to exclude evidence of the two BAC test results but granted Robinett's motion to exclude evidence regarding the per se alcohol concentration standard of .08. Robinett was convicted of both charges and he appealed. The appeal was assigned to the Court of Appeals which remanded the case for a new trial. The State petitioned for review and this Court granted the petition.

II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

When considering a case on review from the Court of Appeals, this Court gives serious consideration to the views of the

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[141 Idaho 112] Court of Appeals; however, this Court reviews the trial court's decisions directly and acts as though it is hearing the matter on direct appeal from the decision of the trial court. State v. Statton, 136 Idaho 135, 136, 30 P.3d 290, 291 (2001); Leavitt v. Swain, 133 Idaho 624, 627, 991 P.2d 349, 352 (1999). The trial court has broad discretion in the admission and exclusion of evidence and its decision to admit evidence will be reversed only when there has been a clear abuse of that discretion. State v. Howard, 135 Idaho 727, 731, 24 P.3d 44, 48 (2001). On the question of whether evidence is relevant, this Court reviews the trial court's ruling de novo. State v. Raudebaugh, 124 Idaho 758, 764, 864 P.2d 596, 602 (1993).

III. ANALYSIS

A. Admission of BAC test results

The offense of driving under the influence is codified in I.C. § 18-8004(1)(a) which provides:

It is unlawful for any person who is under the influence of alcohol, drugs or any other intoxicating substances, or any combination of alcohol, drugs and/or any other...

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