One Trooper’s word versus a family’s

Flores v. State (Unpublished Memo): Conviction of DWI with child affirmed.  The question was whether Flores was the driver.  He and his family say no.  The Trooper says yes.  The jury believed the Trooper.

Flores was in a GMC Yukon with his wife and a young niece.  They had just left a party attended by many of their family members, including the parents of the child.  The father of the child was the first to be pulled over.  The Trooper was administering the standard battery of field sobriety tests when Flores saw the fix his brother was in.  Flores pulled over too.  Or was it Flores?

Here’s a tip: I’m all for familial loyalty, but if you’ve been drinking, it’s probably not a good idea to interrupt an officer giving a field sobriety test.  When Flores injected himself into the situation, and did not follow the Trooper’s directives, the Trooper soon switched his focus to Flores.  Flores failed all of the field sobriety tests.

There was no dispute that Flores got out of the driver’s side of his SUV. He says that he was in the back seat, not the front.  He contents that the Trooper was too busy with his brother at that time and didn’t pay specific attention to whether he got out of the front seat or the back.  Flores, his wife, his brother’s wife, and other family members who saw them loading up at the party all said that the wife was at the wheel.

The wife’s testimony was perhaps too strong on this point.  The Trooper’s dash cam shows the front passenger door of the Flores vehicle opening, and a foot coming out for an instant before the door was shut again — all at a point when Mr. Flores was already out of the vehicle.  The problem with the wife saying she was behind the wheel at that time is that she was too petite to have reached across a GMC Yukon to have opened the passenger door and stuck her foot out — at least not from the driver’s side. 

The Tyler court holds that, even though the Trooper did not have a specific recollection of seeing Mr. Flores with his hands on the wheel, his testimony and the dash cam video were enough to support the conviction.

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