Lucas v. State

Decision Date25 September 1998
Docket NumberNo. A98A2026.,A98A2026.
Citation234 Ga. App. 534,507 S.E.2d 253
PartiesLUCAS v. The STATE.
CourtGeorgia Court of Appeals

OPINION TEXT STARTS HERE

Lee Sexton & Associates, Lee Sexton, Jonesboro, for appellant.

Keith C. Martin, Solicitor, Rebecca G. Simpson, Assistant Solicitor, for appellee. JOHNSON, Presiding Judge.

John Barry Lucas appeals his conviction of driving under the influence of alcohol.

1. Lucas challenges the sufficiency of the evidence. On appeal the evidence must be viewed in the light most favorable to support the verdict, and appellant no longer enjoys a presumption of innocence; moreover, an appellate court determines evidence sufficiency and does not weigh the evidence or determine witness credibility. Grant v. State, 195 Ga.App. 463, 464(1), 393 S.E.2d 737 (1990).

The evidence viewed in a light most favorable to the verdict is as follows: At 1:45 a.m., Lucas stopped the van he was driving at a roadblock. As the arresting officer approached the van, he detected a strong smell of alcohol. He observed that Lucas' eyes were red, glassy and "hazed over," and that his speech was slower than normal. The officer suspected that Lucas had been drinking alcohol and asked him to get out of the van. Lucas got out of the van after being asked to do so a second time. The officer saw that Lucas was unsteady on his feet. The officer noticed that once Lucas was outside the van, the smell of alcohol became very strong and definitely originated from Lucas. When asked how much alcohol he had consumed and when he consumed it, Lucas replied "no." Lucas refused to submit to a field alco-sensor test.

Lucas was given field sobriety exercises. Although he had been instructed to keep his hands at his sides, during the one legged stand exercise Lucas raised his hands to keep his balance, swayed and hopped once to keep from falling. Contrary to the instructions given him, Lucas also started the exercise before being told to do so. Lucas began the "heel to toe step and turn" exercise before being told to do so, then missed eight of the nine heel-to-toe steps, stumbled off line during the exercise, and hesitated before making the turn. The officer, who had received DUI training and who had made about 200 DUI stops, then placed Lucas under arrest for driving under the influence. After being read the implied consent warning, Lucas elected not to submit to a chemical test of his breath. He was transported to a local medical center where, after signing a written implied consent warning, he again refused to take a breath test.

At trial, Lucas did not object to the admission of his refusals to submit to an alco-sensor and a chemical test of his breath. His refusal to submit to an alco-sensor test and to a later chemical test of his breath is circumstantial evidence of his intoxication. See OCGA §§ 24-1-1(4); 24-4-9; 40-6-392(d); Rawl v. State, 192 Ga.App. 57, 58(3), 383 S.E.2d 903 (1989). Two similar transaction DUI incidents involving Lucas were also admitted in evidence. All of this evidence was before the jury for its consideration along with the testimony of the arresting officer regarding his observations of Lucas. See generally OCGA § 40-6-392(d); Keenan v. State, 263 Ga. 569, 436 S.E.2d 475 (1993); see also Scott v. State, 206 Ga.App. 23, 26(1)(c), 424 S.E.2d 328 (1992) (evidence admitted without objection). Lucas' testimony conflicted with that of the arresting officer; the jury resolved this conflict against Lucas.

We find that Davis v. State, 206 Ga.App. 647, 426 S.E.2d 267 (1992) is factually distinguishable from this case. In Davis, the officer smelled an odor of alcohol in the defendant's car but could not pinpoint the source and could not affirmatively determine whether the driver or his passengers had been drinking; and a blood sample taken three hours after the accident tested negative for alcohol and drugs. Id. at 647-648, 426 S.E.2d 267. Here there were no other passengers to which the odor could be attributed. Nor was Lucas willing to submit to testing.

Review of the transcript in a light most favorable to the jury's verdict reveals ample evidence from which any rationale trier of fact could have found beyond a reasonable doubt that appellant was guilty of the DUI offense of which convicted. Jackson v. Virginia, 443 U.S. 307, 99 S.Ct. 2781, 61 L.Ed.2d 560 (1979). Tuttle v. State, 232 Ga.App. 530, 531(1), 502 S.E.2d 355 (1998).

2. Lucas contends the trial court erred in admitting into evidence a videotape of a prior 1995 traffic stop of Lucas, which the state offered in addition to other evidence to establish the similarity between it and the current DUI incident. We disagree.

At trial, Lucas objected to the admission of the videotape on the following grounds: (i) the tape is prejudicial and simply evidences an attempt to show Lucas in an intoxicated condition; (ii) it has no relevance in the pending case; (iii) it does not show motive; (iv) it does not show bent of mind; it is merely cumulative of the evidence of Lucas' conviction; and (v) it puts Lucas' character in issue.

The videotape was admissible to show Lucas' bent of mind or course of conduct. Fields v. State, 223 Ga.App. 569, 571(2), 479 S.E.2d 393 (1996). The trial court instructed the jury that the videotape evidence of the similar transaction was admissible only for the limited purpose of showing bent of mind or course of conduct. Similar transaction evidence can be introduced to prove bent of mind or course of conduct when there exists some logical connection between the similar transaction evidence and the charged offense so that the similar transaction evidence tends to establish the charged offense. Id.

Evidence of a prior DUI offense, regardless of the circumstances surrounding its commission, is logically connected with a pending DUI charge as it is relevant to establish that the perpetrator has the bent of mind to operate a motor vehicle when it is less safe for him to do so. Id.; see also OCGA § 24-2-1. As depicted by the testimony of the officer and by the videotape, there exist substantial similarities between the prior 1995 event and the DUI alleged in the current indictment. See Okross v. State, 210 Ga.App. 132, 133-134(2), 435 S.E.2d 454 (1993). The Georgia rule favors the admission of any relevant evidence, no matter how slight its probative value. Norman v State, 197 Ga.App. 333, 336(4), 398 S.E.2d 395 (1990).

The evidence was not unduly prejudicial in view of the limiting instructions given by the trial court; moreover, by admitting the similar transaction evidence, the trial court implicitly found that the probative value of the videotape was not outweighed by any potential for prejudice. See Farley v. State, 265 Ga. 622, 625(2), 458 S.E.2d 643 (1995). Any issue regarding Lucas' character was raised, at most, incidentally by the admission of the similar transaction evidence. Relevant and material evidence is not rendered inadmissible merely because it incidentally places a defendant's character in issue. Obiozor v. State, 213 Ga.App. 523, 525(3)(a), 445 S.E.2d 553 (1994).

We disagree with Lucas' contention that the circumstances surrounding a similar transaction cannot be established by use of a videotape taken at the...

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21 cases
  • Foster v. State
    • United States
    • Georgia Court of Appeals
    • November 26, 2002
    ...supra, 443 U.S. at 307, 99 S.Ct. 2781; Childress v. State, 251 Ga.App. 873, 876(2), 554 S.E.2d 818 (2001); Lucas v. State, 234 Ga.App. 534, 535(1), 507 S.E.2d 253 (1998) (refusal to submit to breath test is circumstantial evidence of intoxication); Eppinger v. State, 236 Ga.App. 426, 512 S.......
  • Drogan v. State, A05A0202.
    • United States
    • Georgia Court of Appeals
    • April 6, 2005
    ...840, 842-843(2), 570 S.E.2d 43 (2002); see Kelly v. State, 242 Ga.App. 30, 33-34(5), 528 S.E.2d 812 (2000); Lucas v. State, 234 Ga.App. 534, 535(1), 507 S.E.2d 253 (1998). Based on Baird v. State, 260 Ga.App. 661, 580 S.E.2d 650 (2003); State v. Batty, 259 Ga.App. 431, 577 S.E.2d 98 (2003);......
  • Driver v. State, A99A1344.
    • United States
    • Georgia Court of Appeals
    • October 22, 1999
    ...Id. 18. Supra, 206 Ga.App. at 28(3), 424 S.E.2d 638. 19. See Smith, supra, 236 Ga.App. at 552(3), 512 S.E.2d 19; Lucas v. State, 234 Ga.App. 534, 536(2), 507 S.E.2d 253 (1998); Nameth, supra, 234 Ga.App. at 20-21(1), 505 S.E.2d 778; Tam, supra, 232 Ga.App. at 16(1), 501 S.E.2d 51; Druitt v.......
  • Bagwell v. State, A01A0715.
    • United States
    • Georgia Court of Appeals
    • March 28, 2001
    ...236 Ga.App. 548, 552(3), 512 S.E.2d 19 (1999), rev'd on other grounds, 272 Ga. 83, 526 S.E.2d 59 (2000). See also Lucas v. State, 234 Ga.App. 534, 536(2), 507 S.E.2d 253 (1998); Fields v. State, 223 Ga.App. 569, 571(2), 479 S.E.2d 393 (1996); Okross v. State, 210 Ga. App. 132, 133-134(2), 4......
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1 books & journal articles
  • Criminal Law - Franklin J. Hogue and Laura D. Hogue
    • United States
    • Mercer University School of Law Mercer Law Reviews No. 51-1, September 1999
    • Invalid date
    ...character evidence, which everyone concedes is an impermissible method of convicting a person. Consider this holding: In Lucas v. State, 234 Ga. App. 534, 507 S.E.2d 253 (1998), which is not especially unusual, the State introduced as a "similar transaction" a videotape of a prior DUI arres......

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