Mississippi High Court Orders New Trial on Drunk Driving Charge

January 28, 2010

The Mississippi Supreme Court has ruled that Mary Reed Evans is entitled to present evidence in an effort to disprove prosecutors’ contention that her blood alcohol level was over the legal limit at the time she was driving an automobile.

The state Court of Appeals overturned Evans’ conviction last November. The attorney general’s office petitioned the Supreme Court to hear the case. On Thursday, the justices upheld the new trial order.

Evans was convicted in Monroe County Justice Court of first offense DUI. She lost an appeal to circuit court in 2007.

According to the court record, Evans drank four beers and ate at a Tupelo restaurant between 6 p.m. and 11 p.m. on July 19, 2006. She was stopped on the way home about 12:50 a.m. for DUI after a portable Intoxilyzer test. However, it was 1:58 a.m. before a blood alcohol test was given to her at the sheriff’s department. She registered 0.09 percent — over the legal limit of 0.08 percent.

In circuit court, Evans wanted an expert to testify about retrograde extrapolation, but prosecutors opposed the move. The judge refused to allow the testimony.

The Supreme Court said that the trial judge should reconsider his decision. The court said Evans was not offering her expert’s testimony on retrograde extrapolation to prove she was not impaired when she was pulled over. Justices said she offered it to prove that she did not have a BAC of 0.08 percent or more when she was pulled over.

Evans had contended that any time there is lag from the time a motorist is stopped to the time they take the test, there is a question that arises about the BAC result.

Evans contended that the chemical test at the sheriff’s department only proved that she was legally intoxicated at the sheriff’s department, according to court documents.

Evans claimed that her expert would show that from the time she was stopped by law enforcement officers until the time of the blood alcohol test, Evans’ BAC was rising. It would have been lower if the test were taken earlier, she contended.

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