Court of Appeals of Ohio, Eighth District, Cuyahoga
Appeal from the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas Case
ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLANT Mark A. Stanton Cuyahoga County
Public Defender, Erika B. Cunliffe Assistant Public Defender
ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE Michael C. O'Malley Cuyahoga
County Prosecutor Melissa Riley Assistant County Prosecutor
BEFORE: Kilbane, P.J., Boyle, J., and Jones, J.
EILEEN KILBANE, P.J.
Defendant-appellant, Richard D. Gindlesperger, Jr.
("Gindlesperger"), appeals from his convictions for
driving under the influence and failure to comply. For the
reasons set forth below, we affirm.
In April 2015, Gindlesperger was charged in a four-count
indictment. Counts 1 and 3 charged him with driving while
under influence ("DUI"). Counts 2 and 4 charged him
with failure to comply. The charges arise from a traffic stop
initiated by Ohio State Highway Patrol Trooper Zachary
Coleman ("Trooper Coleman") in March 2015.
In January 2016, the matter proceeded to a jury trial, at
which the following evidence was adduced.
On March 18, 2015, Trooper Coleman was patrolling traffic on
I-71 northbound near Strongsville, Ohio when he checked a
passing vehicle's speed with his laser device at a rate
of 76 m.p.h. in a 60 m.p.h. zone. Trooper Coleman pulled up
behind the vehicle with his emergency lights activated.
Trooper Coleman testified that he followed the vehicle for
approximately a quarter mile before the vehicle pulled over
to the east berm.
Trooper Coleman approached the vehicle from the
passenger's side and made contact with the driver, later
identified as Gindlesperger. Upon approaching the vehicle,
Trooper Coleman asked Gindlesperger for his driver's
license and insurance card. Gindlesperger replied that he did
not "have it on him." Trooper Coleman testified to
several observations he made while speaking with
Gindlesperger. Trooper Coleman detected a strong odor of
alcoholic beverage coming from inside the vehicle. He also
noticed that Gindlesperger's eyes were bloodshot and
glassy, as well as the fact that Gindlesperger seemed
"extremely nervous" and was shaking really bad.
Trooper Coleman testified that he is a graduate of the State
Highway Patrol Academy, whose curriculum includes a 40-hour
course on identification of impaired motorists and the
administration of field sobriety tests. Trooper Coleman
received further instruction on identifying impaired drivers
through his participation in the State Highway Patrol Academy
Drinking Lab, where he was able to observe test subjects
under the influence of alcohol.
Trooper Coleman further testified that based on his
experience and training, factors such as the strong odor of
alcohol, bloodshot, glassy eyes, nervousness, and speeding
are often indicators of an impaired individual. Based on
these indicators, Trooper Coleman asked Gindlesperger to exit
his vehicle with the intention to administer field sobriety
tests on Gindlesperger. Rather than complying with Trooper
Coleman's request, Gindlesperger told Trooper Coleman
that "he can't do it, he's sorry[.]"
Gindlesperger then took off in his car at a high rate of
speed. It took Trooper Coleman approximately five seconds to
return to his vehicle and commence pursuit of Gindlesperger.
By this point, Coleman had nearly lost visual contact with
the vehicle. Trooper Coleman testified that his patrol car
reached speeds of 120 m.p.h. in an attempt to catch up to
Gindlesperger. Trooper Coleman eventually lost complete
visual contact with the vehicle and his supervisor terminated
the pursuit for safety concerns.
While pursuing Gindlesperger, Trooper Coleman testified he
witnessed "large debris dust, " that was caused by
Gindlesperger when he nearly forced another vehicle off of
I-71. After termination of the pursuit, Trooper Coleman
discovered that the vehicle was registered to
Gindlesperger's mother, Linda Hodolic
The interaction was recorded on Trooper Coleman's
dash-cam video and was played for the jury. In the video,
Trooper Coleman is seen speaking to Gindlesperger, first from
the passenger's side front window and then from the
driver's side front window. While Trooper Coleman is
speaking with Gindlesperger from the driver's window,
Gindlesperger then takes off at a high rate of speed. Trooper
Coleman then runs to his patrol car and the chase ensues.
Trooper Coleman quickly lost sight of Gindlesperger because
of the large cloud of dust.
Another trooper traveled to the address linked to the license
plate number and spoke with Hodolic. He spoke with her about
the incident on I-71 and requested that Gindlesperger contact
the State Highway Patrol to discuss the incident. He gave
Hodolic Trooper Coleman's phone number. Trooper Coleman
spoke with Gindlesperger the next day and advised that he
come to the post to follow up on the traffic stop. Trooper
Coleman testified that Gindlesperger did not come to the
patrol office until the next day, which was two days after
the incident. Trooper Coleman did not issue a breathalyzer
test at this point, because the two-day passage in time would
not have led to reliable test results. While at the post,
Gindlesperger asserted his Miranda rights and
declined to answer Trooper Coleman's questions.
Hodolic testified that she and Gindlesperger had spent March
18, 2015 mourning together, because the date fell near the
birthday of Gindlesperger's deceased father, who had died
six months prior in September 2014. The death of
Gindlesperger's father occurred on the same day
Gindlesperger's sister died in a car accident. Hodolic
testified that she fell asleep around 5:30 p.m. and has no
memory of any events until the trooper arrived at her home.
With the trooper present, Hodolic called Gindlesperger's
cellphone and alerted him to the fact that a trooper was at
the house and wanted to speak with him. She testified that
Gindlesperger did not return home until a couple of hours
later. Two days later, Hodolic accompanied Gindlesperger to
the Highway Patrol post.
Gindlesperger and Hodolic both testified for the defense.
Hodolic testified she suffers from chronic obstructive
pulmonary disease ("COPD") and is allergic to mold.
In order to reduce mold in her car, she uses a certain
microbial spray, which smells like alcohol when freshly
sprayed. Hodolic testified that the last time she used the
compound in the car was "probably the day before"
Gindlesperger was stopped by Trooper Coleman.
Gindlesperger testified that he has a criminal history
involving alcohol, but he stopped drinking the day his father
and sister passed away in 2014. He denied consuming any
alcohol on the day of the incident. He explained that on
March 18, 2015, he and his mother spent the day reminiscing
about their deceased family members and had a birthday party
for Gindlesperger's deceased father. After his mother
fell asleep, Gindlesperger testified that he sat in
Hodolic's car because he wanted to listen to a CD of his
father playing music. A few minutes later, Gindlesperger
decided to take Hodolic's car and drive to his
friend's house, which required Gindlesperger to traverse
traveling on northbound I-71, Gindlesperger described the
flow of traffic as moderate. As Gindlesperger proceeded along
I-71, he recalls driving at a speed of about 65 m.p.h. when
he passed Trooper Coleman's parked car. After
Gindlesperger came to a stop, Trooper Coleman walked over to
the passenger's side and asked for Gindlesperger's
license. Gindlesperger initially replied that he did not have
it on his person. Trooper Coleman then approached the
driver's side window of the car, where Gindlesperger
subsequently revealed that he does not have a valid license.
After this exchange, Gindlesperger testified that Coleman
asked him to step out of the vehicle. Instead, Gindlesperger
fled the traffic stop, stating to Trooper Coleman that
"he can't do it, he's sorry[.]" He took off
because he was thinking "about losing his mom's
car[.]" Gindlesperger estimated that he drove for
approximately a mile, never exceeding 75 m.p.h. before
exiting the freeway. He sat on the side of the road for
approximately an hour and a half ...