When there is witness testimony of an individual driving impaired, there can be sufficient evidence to convict of an OVI, even if none of the witnesses are police officers.
September 12, 2016
Romes was at a bar with Gast and Brummer, who he ultimately rear ended later in the evening. After rear ending them, he drove off to his home at which point Brummer called 911. An officer arrived at his home, observed signs of impairment, as well as Romes carrying a whisky bottle. Romes was charged and convicted of an OVI in the Medina Municipal Court. He appealed, arguing against the sufficiency and manifest weight of the evidence. His argument seemed to focus on the fact that the officer did not witness his driving. The Ninth District was not persuaded.
Rather, the Ninth District held that there was sufficient evidence to convict. It reviewed that there was witness testimony that he apologized for drinking too much and causing the accident, of him drinking that evening, as well as of signs of intoxication before and after the accident. The Ninth District reasoned that, "[T]here is no prerequisite that an officer observe erratic driving in order to effectuate an arrest for driving under the influence." It additional held that, "virtually any lay witness, without special qualifications, may testify as to whether or not an individual is intoxicated." Thus, the witness testimony was sufficient to convict.