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State v. McClain

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Ninth District, Wayne

February 12, 2018

STATE OF OHIO Appellee
v.
MATTHEW MCCLAIN Appellant

         APPEAL FROM JUDGMENT ENTERED IN THE WAYNE COUNTY MUNICIPAL COURT COUNTY OF WAYNE, OHIO CASE No. 2015 TR-C 006394

          CHRISTINA I. REIHELD, Attorney at Law, for Appellant.

          DANIEL R. LUTZ, Prosecuting Attorney, and NATHAN R. SHAKER, Assistant Prosecuting Attorney, for Appellee.

          DECISION AND JOURNAL ENTRY

          JENNIFER HENSAL, Presiding Judge.

         {¶1} Matthew McClain appeals a judgment of the Wayne County Municipal Court that convicted and sentenced him for operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs. For the following reasons, this Court affirms.

         I.

         {¶2} State Trooper Justin Ross was sitting in his cruiser by a county road one rainy summer evening when a vehicle pulled up to his. The occupants of the vehicle told him that the car in front of them had attempted to run them off the road. Trooper Ross caught up to the car and, after noticing it go left of the center line, initiated a traffic stop. When he reached the driver's door, Trooper Ross noticed damage to the left side of the car that appeared to have occurred recently. According to Trooper Ross, when he observed the driver of the car, Mr. McClain, he noticed that Mr. McClain's eyes were glassy and that his pupils were dilated, suggesting that he might be under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Mr. McClain also kept moving his hands about, despite being told multiple times to keep them on the steering wheel. Trooper Ross, therefore, administered field sobriety tests on Mr. McClain. After observing numerous clues of impairment during each test, Trooper Ross arrested Mr. McClain for operating a vehicle under the influence of drugs or alcohol. He also cited Mr. McClain for driving left of center. The State later dismissed the driving-left-of-center charge.

         {¶3} Following a trial to the bench, the municipal court found Mr. McClain guilty of the operating-under-the-influence offense. It sentenced him to 30 days in jail, which it stayed pending appeal. Mr. McClain has appealed the municipal court's judgment, assigning as error that his conviction is against the manifest weight of the evidence.

         II.

         ASSIGNMENT OF ERROR

         APPELLANT'S CONVICTION FOR OPERATING A VEHICLE UNDER THE INFLUENCE IS AGAINST THE MANIFEST WEIGHT OF THE EVIDENCE.

         {¶4} The trial court found Mr. McClain guilty of violating Revised Code Section 4511.19(A)(1)(a), which provides that "[n]o person shall operate any vehicle * * * if, at the time of the operation, * * * [t]he person is under the influence of alcohol, a drug of abuse, or a combination of them." In this case, it is not disputed that there was no evidence that Mr. McClain was under the influence of alcohol at the time of the stop. The question, therefore, is whether Mr. McClain was under the influence of a drug of abuse. Mr. McClain argues that his conviction is against the manifest weight of the evidence because the State failed to establish that he was impaired because he had used marijuana or because it was a side-effect of his Adderall medication. According to Mr. McClain, the State did not present any evidence that marijuana or Adderall impairs the average individual or him specifically. He relies on the Second District's decision in State v. May, 2d Dist. Montgomery No. 25359, 2014-Ohio-1542, which held that the State "must do more" to establish a violation of Section 4511.19(A)(1)(a) "than simply present evidence that the defendant has taken * * * medication and shows sign of impairment." Id. at ¶ 46. He also relies on this Court's decision in State v. Collins, 9th Dist. Wayne No. 11CA0027, 2012-Ohio-2236, in which this Court recognized that Section 4511.19(A)(1)(a) requires "the State to do more than prove impairment in a vacuum[, ]" and "specifically requires the State demonstrate that the source of the defendant's impairment was 'alcohol, a drug of abuse, or a combination of them.'" Id. at ¶ 19. In other words, the State must prove that a defendant's "impaired condition resulted from being under the influence of a drug of abuse." Id. at ¶ 20.

         {¶5} Although couched as a "manifest weight" argument, Mr. McClain's argument that the State "was unable to provide evidence that the actions and impairment shown by McClain are the result of the use of alcohol or a drug of abuse" sounds in sufficiency. Mr. McClain also cites State v. Eskridge, 38 Ohio St.3d 56 (1988), which involved a question about the sufficiency of evidence, not the weight of such evidence. Accordingly, we will review Mr. McClain's argument as a sufficiency-of-the-evidence claim. See State v. Jackson, 9th Dist. Lorain No. 15CA010828, 2016-Ohio-7637, ¶ 6, overruled on other grounds by State v Hamilton, 9th Dist. Lorain No. 15CA010830, 2017-Ohio-230, ¶ 17.

         {¶6} Whether a conviction is supported by sufficient evidence is a question of law, which we review de novo. State v. Thompkins,78 Ohio St.3d 380, 386 (1997). In making this determination, we must view ...


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