State v. Alexander
Case # A151976
Full Text of Opinion: http://www.publications.ojd.state.or.us/docs/A151976.pdf
Defendant Alexander was driving with some friends after having gone to a few bars and drinking. At first, Alexander drove the speed limit. Eventually, he accelerated and starting turning up the music in the car. Alexander’s friends asked him to slow down, but Alexander continued accelerating until the car reached approximately 80 miles per hour. Alexander lost control of the car when it hit some gravel prior to a curve. The car became airborne and crashed upside down in a ditch. Emergency vehicles arrived, and witnesses later described Alexander as “combative,” “belligerent,” and rude. His BAC measured at 0.219. Alexander was charged with and convicted of two counts of Third-degree Assault, ORS 163.165, two counts of Reckless Endangerment of Another Person, ORS 163.195, one count of DUII, ORS 811.140, Reckless Driving, ORS 811.140, and Criminal Driving While Suspended or Revoked, ORS 811.182. He now appeals the trial court’s denial of his motion for judgment of acquittal of the two Third-degree Assault charges.
On appeal, Alexander argues that the evidence was insufficient to prove anything more than that he drove recklessly while intoxicated. He further argues that merely driving at an excessive speed does not satisfy the “extreme indifference to the value of human life” element of the Third-degree Assault statute.
The Court of Appeals notes that the record shows that Alexander was highly intoxicated and that he was driving at an excessive rate of speed and ignoring traffic conditions (the curve in the road). Moreover, Alexander responded to his passenger’s concern about his rate of speed by accelerating and turning up the music, which suggests indifference to the safety of others. Thus, there is evidence that Alexander was aware that others viewed his conduct as dangerous, and he chose to ignore those concerns and drove faster. Additionally, the fact that Alexander had just taken a safety course “related to the hazards of drinking and driving” further supports the jury’s conclusion that Alexander had a heightened awareness of the risks of drinking while intoxicated and that he deliberately disregarded those risks. All of this evidence supports the finding that Alexander had an extreme indifference to the value of human life, and the trial court did not err in denying his motion of acquittal. Accordingly, the judgment is affirmed.