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Corbin v. State

Court of Appeals of Indiana

October 31, 2018

Brittanie R. Corbin, Appellant-Defendant,
State of Indiana, Appellee-Plaintiff.

          Appeal from the Montgomery Superior Court The Honorable Peggy Q. Lohorn, Judge Trial Court Cause No. 54D02-1704-CM-1083

          Attorney for Appellant Marc Lopez Indianapolis, Indiana.

          Attorneys for Appellee Curtis T. Hill, Jr. Attorney General of Indiana Caroline G. Templeton Deputy Attorney General Indianapolis, Indiana.

          Riley, Judge.


         [¶1] Appellant-Defendant, Brittanie Corbin (Corbin), appeals her conviction for operating a vehicle with an alcohol concentration equivalent (ACE) of 0.15 or more, a Class A misdemeanor, Ind. Code § 9-30-5-1(b) (2017).[1]


         [¶2] Corbin presents two issues on appeal, which we restate as:

(1) Whether the trial court abused its discretion in admitting certain evidence; and
(2) Whether the State presented sufficient evidence beyond a reasonable doubt to support Corbin's conviction for operating a vehicle with an ACE of 0.15 or more.


         [¶3] On April 8, 2017, at approximately 11:36 p.m., two deputy sheriffs with the Montgomery County Sherriff's Department, Mathew Riddle (Deputy Riddle) and Ethan Redmon (Deputy Redmon), received a dispatch concerning a "disabled vehicle eastbound on I-74." (Transcript Vol. II, p. 15). The deputies arrived at the scene at approximately 11:43 p.m. and observed a "silver Chevy Cobalt on the right-hand shoulder." (Tr. Vol. II, p. 16). Deputy Riddle approached the vehicle from the driver's side, and Deputy Redmon advanced to the opposite side. Corbin was in the driver's seat, and there was a male passenger, "Alexander," in the front passenger seat. (Tr. Vol. II, p. 14). Deputy Riddle asked Corbin where she was coming from, and Corbin stated that "she was coming from a friend's wedding" and "was driving back to her Indianapolis area address." (Tr. Vol. II, p. 10). While talking to Corbin, Deputy Riddle observed that Corbin had "red glassy eyes and slow . . . slurred speech." (Tr. Vol. II, p. 8). Based on his observation, Deputy Riddle formed an opinion that Corbin was "under the influence of either drugs or alcohol." (Tr. Vol. II, p. 8). Deputy Riddle consequently asked Corbin if she had drunk alcohol, and Corbin admitted that she "had." (Tr. Vol. II, p. 10). At that point, the deputies ordered Corbin and Alexander to exit the vehicle. Deputy Riddle observed that Corbin was "uneasy on her feet" and Corbin held onto Alexander "to keep her balance." (Tr. Vol. II, p. 11). Deputy Riddle began talking with Alexander, and after obtaining consent from Alexander, he tried to see if he "could get the vehicle running." (Tr. Vol. II, p. 11). While Alexander "looked under the hood to see if he could find the issue," Deputy Riddle attempted to "start the vehicle," but the vehicle was "inoperable." (Tr. Vol. II, p. 14).

         [¶4] In the meantime, Deputy Redmon summoned Corbin to the side of the car in order to talk to her. As he was interacting with Corbin, Deputy Redmon observed that Corbin had "red blood[-]shot eyes and was unsteady on her feet." (Tr. Vol. II, p. 18). Corbin also emanated "an overwhelming odor of alcohol." (Tr. Vol. II, p. 18). Based on his "training and experience," Deputy Redmon formed the opinion that Corbin was "under the influence of a drug or alcohol." (Tr. Vol. II, p. 18). Deputy Redmon asked Corbin "how much" alcohol she had consumed, and Corbin stated, "maybe a glass or two" of "wine" at about "10:00-10:30" p.m. (State's Exh. 1 at 0:20-0:28). Implying that she was not intoxicated, Corbin continued, "you can check me if you want. I don't care." (State's Exh. 1 at 0:25). Deputy Redmon quickly responded, "Yep. We just want to make sure you are okay to drive, and we will figure out your car situation." (State's Exh. 1 at. 0:26). Shortly thereafter, Deputy Redmon walked back to his vehicle to retrieve something. When he returned, Deputy Redmon informed Corbin that he was going to conduct some tests "just to make sure she was okay to drive." (State's Exh. 1 at 1:47).

         [¶5] Deputy Redmon administered a horizontal gaze nystagmus, a field sobriety test, in which Corbin "showed signs of being under the influence of either a drug or alcohol." (Tr. Vol. II, p. 21). Doubting Corbin's first response that she had drunk two glasses of wine, again, Deputy Redmon asked Corbin, "have you only had two glasses?" (State's Exh. 1 at 4:00). Corbin responded, "Yeah. . . . it feels like three maybe . . . I haven't had many." (State's Exh. 1 at 4:00). At that point, Deputy Redmon administered a breathalyzer test, which determined that Corbin was intoxicated.

         [¶6] Because Corbin had failed the administered tests, Deputy Redmon concluded that he had probable cause to arrest Corbin for operating a vehicle while intoxicated and he read Corbin the Indiana Implied Consent Law, which requires the officer to offer the suspect a certified chemical test. Corbin consented. Corbin was then handcuffed and transported to Montgomery County Jail. Corbin cried "throughout" her transportation to jail. (Tr. Vol. II, p. 29). At approximately 12:20 a.m., Deputy Redmon administered Corbin's chemical breath test. Prior to administering the test, Deputy Redmon ensured that Corbin had not eaten, drunk, smoked, or put any foreign objects in her mouth. The test revealed that Corbin had 0.152 grams of alcohol per 210 liters of breath.

         [¶7] On April 19, 2017, the State filed an Information, charging Corbin with Count I, operating a vehicle with an ACE of 0.15 or more, a Class A misdemeanor and Count II, operating a vehicle while intoxicated, a Class C misdemeanor. On December 5, 2017, a bench trial was conducted. At the end of Corbin's bench trial, the trial court found her guilty of Count I, operating a vehicle with an ACE of 0.15 or more, a Class A misdemeanor; however, it dismissed Count II. On the same day, the trial court held a sentencing hearing and sentenced Corbin to a term of 180 days, all which, except time served, was suspended to probation.

         [¶8] Corbin now appeals. Additional facts will be provided as necessary.


         I. Admission of the Evidence

         [¶9] The admission or exclusion of evidence falls within the sound discretion of the trial court, and its determination regarding the admissibility of evidence is reviewed on appeal only for an abuse of discretion. Wilson v. State, 765 N.E.2d 1265, 1272 (Ind. 2002). An abuse of discretion occurs when the trial court's decision is clearly against the logic and effect of the facts and circumstances before the court. Doolin v. State, 970 N.E.2d 785, 787 (Ind.Ct.App. 2012).

         [¶10] Corbin argues that the trial court should have granted her motion to suppress the statements she made to the deputies prior to her arrest. We note that once a case proceeds to trial, the question of whether the trial court erred in denying a motion to suppress is no longer viable. Baird v. State, 854 N.E.2d 398, 403 (Ind.Ct.App. 2006), trans. denied. Instead, we review whether the trial court erred in admitting the evidence at trial. Id.

         A. Miranda

         [¶11] Corbin contends that while being questioned by deputies about drinking alcohol after she displayed signs of intoxication, the interrogation was custodial in nature and she should have been advised of her rights under Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436, 444 (1966).

In Miranda [] the United States Supreme Court held that the prosecution may not use statements, whether exculpatory or inculpatory, stemming from custodial interrogation of the defendant unless it demonstrates the use of procedural safeguards effective to secure the privilege against self-incrimination. These procedural safeguards include an advisement to the accused that he has the right to remain silent, that anything he says can be used against him, that he has the right to an attorney, and that if he cannot afford an attorney one ...

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