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Artigas v. State

Court of Appeals of Indiana

April 26, 2019

Alfonso Artigas, Appellant-Defendant,
v.
State of Indiana, Appellee-Plaintiff.

          Appeal from the Marion Superior Court The Honorable Steven J. Rubick, Magistrate Trial Court Cause No. 49G10-1802-CM-6864

          ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT Darren Bedwell Marion County Public Defender Appellate Division Indianapolis, Indiana

          ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE Curtis T. Hill, Jr. Attorney General of Indiana Sierra A. Murray Deputy Attorney General Indianapolis, Indiana

          Bailey, Judge.

         Case Summary

         [¶1] Following a bench trial, Alfonso Artigas ("Artigas") was found not guilty of operating a vehicle while intoxicated endangering a person, a Class A misdemeanor.[1] He was, however, found guilty of Class C misdemeanor operating a vehicle with an alcohol concentration equivalent to at least .08 but less than .15 g/100mL of blood[2]-even though the stipulated blood test presented only a range from .07 to .084 g/100mL. Artigas challenges the sufficiency of the evidence supporting that conviction. We reverse.

         Facts and Procedural History

         [¶2] Around 3:00 a.m. on February 17, 2018, several officers from the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department ("IMPD") were investigating a vehicle collision. Only one lane of traffic was open. While that investigation was underway, an officer spotted a vehicle approaching at a high rate of speed. Several officers yelled and IMPD Officer Duran Brown ("Officer Brown") used his flashlight to alert the driver to stop. After there was more yelling, the vehicle squealed to an abrupt stop, nearly striking Officer Brown.

         [¶3] Officer Brown approached the driver-Artigas-who had the odor of alcohol on his breath, slurred speech, and red, glassy eyes. Artigas said that he spoke little English. Officer Brown attempted to administer field sobriety tests but was unable to do so because of the language barrier between them. Officer Brown then obtained a search warrant and transported Artigas to a hospital where a blood draw was conducted at 3:53 a.m. An ensuing laboratory report indicated that Artigas's blood had "a whole blood ethyl alcohol concentration in the range of 0.070 to 0.084% w/v (0.070 to 0.084 g/100mL)." Exhibit 1.[3]

         [¶4] The State charged Artigas as follows: Count I-operating a vehicle while intoxicated endangering a person; Count II- operating a vehicle with an alcohol concentration equivalent to at least .08 but less than .15 g/100mL of blood; and Count III-driving without a license as a class C misdemeanor.[4] At a bench trial, Officer Brown was the sole witness and the laboratory report was admitted by stipulation. Artigas was found not guilty of Count I and guilty of the remaining counts. He received partially suspended, sixty-day concurrent sentences on Counts II and III along with 180 days of probation on Count II.

         [¶5] Artigas now appeals.

         Discussion and Decision

         [¶6] When reviewing a challenge to the sufficiency of evidence, "[w]e neither reweigh evidence nor judge witness credibility." Gibson v. State, 51 N.E.3d 204, 210 (Ind. 2016). We view the "evidence and reasonable inferences drawn therefrom in a light most favorable to the conviction, and will affirm 'if there is substantial evidence of probative value supporting each element of the crime from which a reasonable trier of fact could have found the defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.'" Walker v. State, 998 N.E.2d 724, 726 (Ind. 2013) (quoting Davis v. State, 813 N.E.2d 1176, 1178 (Ind. 2004)).

         [¶7] Artigas was charged and convicted under Indiana Code Section 9-30-5-1(a), under the portion of that statute criminalizing "operat[ing] a vehicle with an alcohol concentration equivalent to at least eight-hundredths (0.08) gram of alcohol but less than fifteen-hundredths (0.15) gram of alcohol per . . . one hundred (100) milliliters of the person's blood." In challenging his conviction, Artigas focuses on the report indicating that his blood alcohol concentration was equivalent to somewhere from .07 to .084 g/100mL. Pointing to this range-most of which falls below the statutory threshold-Artigas argues that "nothing in the record supports the conclusion beyond a ...


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