State v. Sadowski
The 2006 Appellate Court explained in State v. Howell that, “[d]riving while under the influence of liquor means, under the law of Connecticut, that a driver had become so affected in his mental, physical or nervous processes that he lacked to an appreciable degree the ability to function properly in relation to the operation of his vehicle.” Following a jury trial, David Sadowski was convicted of operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of intoxicating liquor in violation of C.G.S. §14-227a (1). Sadowski appealed, claiming that the evidence was insufficient to sustain his conviction and that the state had not introduced any evidence to demonstrate he was impaired as a result of alcohol consumption, rather than symptoms of his diabetes. The Appellate Court affirmed the judgment. The jury heard from Officer Derek Aivano of the Newington Police Department that he stopped the defendant for driving too slowly and crossing into the right lane. Aivano noticed, inter alia, the odor of alcohol and that the defendant’s eyes were watery. An unsealed bottle of vodka was in the passenger compartment. The defendant failed field sobriety tests and refused to submit to a breathalyzer test. He reported feeling “odd” with regard to his diabetes and was taken to the hospital. His blood sugar level, normally around 100, was determined to be 206. The jury heard from David Buono, an emergency room physician, that the defendant’s mild hyperglycemic condition would “not necessarily” cause him to swerve in the roadway, have an odor or alcohol on his breath or have difficulty performing field sobriety tests. Buono testified that the defendant was not clinically intoxicated at 3:44 am, approximately two hours after his arrest, but that a person metabolizes blood alcohol at a certain rate and “within a couple of hours can metabolize it down to not be clinically intoxicated.” The Appellate Court concluded that the jury reasonably could have found that the defendant was intoxicated when pulled over, yet not intoxicated when Buono evaluated him and that the cumulative force of the evidence established his guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. The jury could have credited Buono’s testimony and concluded that the defendant’s impairment stemmed from intoxicating liquor, not a high blood sugar level. Therefore, the evidence was sufficient to sustain the conviction.