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State v. Haught

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Eleventh District

June 28, 2013

STATE OF OHIO, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
LEAH J. HAUGHT, Defendant-Appellee.

Criminal Appeal from the Portage County Municipal Court, Ravenna Division, Case No. R 2012 TRC 6599.

Victor V. Vigluicci, Portage County Prosecutor, and Pamela J. Holder, Assistant Prosecutor, (For Plaintiff-Appellant).

Erik E. Jones, Corrigall & Jones, Inc., (For Defendant-Appellee).

OPINION

CYNTHIA WESTCOTT RICE, J.

{¶1} The state of Ohio appeals the judgment of the Portage County Municipal Court, Ravenna Division, which granted appellee, Leah J. Haught's, motion to suppress the results of her Intoxilyzer 8000 test. This court recently held in State v. Carter, 2012-P-0027, 2012-Ohio-5583, that the Intoxilyzer 8000 is presumed reliable, and that the defendant is entitled, but has the burden of production, to specifically challenge the general reliability of the Intoxilyzer 8000. Based on this court's precedent in Carter, we reverse the trial court's judgment, and remand this matter for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

{¶2} Late at night, on May 21, 2012, Haught was stopped for driving through an intersection against a red light. The officer noted Haught's eyes were red and glassy and her speech was slurred. He noticed a strong odor of an alcoholic beverage. Haught failed field sobriety tests. She was arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol. A breath test was administered using an Intoxilyzer 8000, the results of which showed that Haught's blood-alcohol concentration was .224, nearly three times the legal limit. She was cited for driving with a prohibited blood-alcohol concentration, in violation of R.C. 4511.19(A)(1)(h), and failure to obey a traffic control device, in violation of R.C. 4511.12. Haught pled not guilty.

{¶3} On June 21, 2012, the state filed a brief, arguing it was not required to present evidence that the Intoxilyzer 8000 is reliable because the legislature had delegated this determination to the Director of Health and the Supreme Court of Ohio upheld this delegation of authority in State v. Vega, 12 Ohio St.3d 185 (1984).

{¶4} On August 9, 2012, Haught filed a motion to suppress, challenging the admissibility of four categories of evidence, including the results of her field sobriety tests, her statements to police, the officer's observations, and the results of her breath test.

{¶5} In support of her motion to suppress her breath-test results, Haught challenged the general reliability of the Intoxilyzer 8000. She also listed several specific challenges to her breath test. For example, she argued the person administering her breath test did not follow the mandatory 20-minute observation period prior to her breath test; her breath samples were not analyzed according to the instrument's display; the results were not retained in a manner prescribed by the Director of Health; and the instrument did not automatically perform a dry gas control test between the two breath samples.

{¶6} The parties apparently agreed to submit the issue to the court on briefs and no evidence was presented by either party.

{¶7} The trial court limited its review of Haught's motion to suppress to the admissibility of her breath-test results from the Intoxilyzer 8000, and did not address any of her specific challenges to her own test results. The court granted Haught's motion to suppress, holding that the state was required, but failed, to produce evidence that the Intoxilyzer 8000 is reliable in order for her test results to be admissible at trial. The court stated the charge alleging the violation of R.C. 4511.12 would be set for trial, thus implicitly dismissing the per-se charge.

{¶8} The trial court granted the state's motion to stay execution of the judgment pending appeal.

{¶9} The state appeals the trial court's judgment, asserting the following for its sole assignment of error:

{¶10} "The Portage County Municipal Court erred in permitting a general attack on the scientific reliability of the Intoxilyzer 8000 contrary to Ohio statutes and ...


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