Columnist Chris Coursey of the Santa Rosa, California Press-Democrat served as an alternate juror in a recent DUI trial. Here are his thoughts.
Update: I think I will add my own two cents to this. Of course, I wasn’t there for the trial, but it sounds to me like the evidence was weak. There was no impaired driving, and Coursey makes it sound like the defendant did not exhibit indicators of impairment (beyond those consistent with a 60 year old male being asked to perform field sobriety tests). I discount the hospital blood test result because typically they run 15-20% higher for alcohol due to the nature of the blood testing that hospitals do. That would bring the hospital result down to about the same as the police breath test result of 0.08, which to me is margin of error stuff and not sufficient for proof beyond a reasonable doubt. Particularly with the “rising alcohol” defense mentioned in the column. The defendant probably was drunk, but probable is not enough for a conviction. Thus, based on this evidence (and again, I wasn’t there for the trial, so I might be swayed by some other evidence not mentioned by Coursey), I would vote not guilty.