Brittanie R. Corbin, Appellant-Defendant,
State of Indiana, Appellee-Plaintiff.
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
OF THE CASE
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)
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.
AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
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).
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
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.
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.
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.
Corbin now appeals. Additional facts will be provided as
Admission of the Evidence
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
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.
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 ...