Judicial District of Danbury at G.A. 3


      Criminal;  Sufficiency of the Evidence; Whether the Defendant's Convictions of Operating a Motor Vehicle while under the Influence of Alcohol and Interfering with an Officer were Supported by Sufficient Evidence; Whether a Conviction under General Statutes § 14-227a (a) (1) Requires Proof that the Driver's Ability to Operate a Motor Vehicle was Impaired.  The defendant was stopped by a Brookfield police officer in the early morning of May 8, 2005.   The defendant admitted that he had consumed two or three alcoholic beverages about a half hour before driving.  After administering roadside sobriety tests, which the defendant failed, the officer and a colleague attempted to handcuff the defendant and place him in a police cruiser.  The defendant, who was taller and heavier than the officers, did not want to be handcuffed, grew agitated and stiffened his arms in a way that made it hard to handcuff him. Eventually, the officers handcuffed the defendant and got him into the backseat of the cruiser.  At the police station, the defendant was charged with operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol in violation of General Statutes § 14-227a (a) (1) and interfering with an officer in violation of § 53a-167a.  Although the state initially also charged the defendant with violating § 14-227a (a) (2), which creates a per se violation based on a person's blood alcohol content, it abandoned this charge.  At trial, the police testified that the defendant was driving erratically and swerving within his own lane.  The defendant, on the other hand, claimed that the tires of one side of his car crossed the yellow median once as he rounded a curve in the road.  After a jury found the defendant guilty on both counts, the defendant appealed, claiming that the evidence was insufficient to convict him of either crime.  With regard to driving under the influence of alcohol, the defendant argues that in order to establish a violation of subsection (a) (1) of § 14-227a, which is known as the "behavioral subdivision" of the statute, the state was required to prove that his ability to drive was impaired and that it failed to establish any impairment.  In this regard, he claims that his failure to pass the roadside tests was irrelevant for purposes of evaluating his actual driving.  The fact that two of his tires crossed the yellow line, he argues, indicates not that he was having difficulty operating his vehicle but that he moved his car toward the center of the road to have a better view of anyone who might be walking on its shoulder.  As for interfering with an officer, the defendant does not dispute that he attempted to negotiate with the officers to avoid being handcuffed or that he briefly stiffened his arms in a way that made it difficult for them to handcuff him.  He maintains that he did this because he had been abused in an earlier incident while he was handcuffed, feared that this might happen again and was trying to protect himself.  Under the circumstances, he claims that the evidence was insufficient to establish that he intended to interfere with the officers.


Connecticut Appellate Court to Hear Cases at University of New Haven 9/24/08 Press Release