California DUI Driving Under Influence Jury Instruction License Lawyers Attorneys

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THE PEOPLE, Plaintiff and Respondent, v. MARIO ENRIQUEZ, Defendant and Appellant.
COURT OF APPEAL OF CALIFORNIA, SIXTH APPELLATE DISTRICT
February 7, 1996, Decided

On June 19, 1994, after smoking a cigarette laced with phencyclidine (PCP), defendant and Christine Martinez were outside Martinez’s mother’s house at 369 Fleming Avenue. When her mother came to the door, she observed Christine was under the influence of PCP and told her she had to leave. Her mother then called 911.  Reserve Deputy Sheriff Michael Phillips saw a blue Sprint with two occupants parked three houses away.  Defendant and Christine exited their automobile and Phillips got out of the patrol car.  When Phillips asked for defendant’s driver’s license, he noticed defendant was sweating, his eyes appeared glossy, and he had difficult standing.  Phillips asked defendant whether he was under the influence, and defendant gave an affirmative response.  After defendant was taken to jail, a blood sample was taken. Laboratory tests confirmed the presence of PCP in defendant’s blood.  When the trial court instructed the jury on the charge of driving under the influence, the trial court read Cal. Jury Instructions, Criminal No. 12.65 (1992).  Based on this evidence, a jury found defendant guilty of driving under the influence and being under the influence of a controlled substance.  Defendant was convicted of both charges.  Defendant appealed.

Issue:

  • Whether jury instruction CALJIC No. 12.65 was sufficient to uphold his driving under the influence conviction?

The Court states that “It is settled that a criminal defendant has a constitutional right to have the jury determine every material issue presented by the evidence.  The denial of that right constitutes a miscarriage of justice regardless of the strength of the prosecution’s case.  Accordingly, it is the trial court’s duty to see that the jurors are adequately informed on the law governing all elements of the case to the extent necessary to enable them to perform their function.  This duty is not always satisfied by a mere reading of wholly correct, requested instructions.  A trial court has a sua sponte duty to instruct on general principles of law relevant to issues raised by the evidence and to give explanatory instructions when terms used in an instruction have a technical meaning peculiar to the law.  The term “under the influence” differs for the purposes of section 23152, subdivision (a) and Health and Safety Code section 11550.  To be ‘under the influence’ within the meaning of the Vehicle Code, the drug(s) must have so far affected the nervous system, the brain, or muscles as to impair to an appreciable degree the ability to operate a vehicle in a manner like that of an ordinarily prudent and cautious person in full possession of his faculties.  In contrast, being under the influence’ within the meaning of Health and Safety Code section 11550 merely requires that the person be under the influence in any detectable manner.  The symptoms of being under the influence within the meaning of that statute are not confined to those commensurate with misbehavior, nor to those which demonstrate impairment of physical or mental ability.  A definition of “under the influence” is required when instructing pursuant to CALJIC No. 12.65 is reinforced by the fact that a definition of “under the influence” is required when instructing on felony driving under the influence in violation of section 23153, subdivision (a).”

In conclusion, this Court finds that the CALJIC No. 12.65, standing alone, does not fully apprise the jury of the technical definition of an element of the offense. We have examined the record for prejudice and cannot say the court’s failure to instruct fully on the meaning of “under the influence” was harmless beyond a reasonable doubt.  Therefore, the conviction for driving under the influence is reversed.

Disclaimer:

These summaries are provided by the SRIS Law Group.  They represent the firm’s unofficial views of the Justices’ opinions.  The original opinions should be consulted for their authoritative content