OUI Middlesex Virginia Lawyer Driver License Suspended
Commonwealth v. Williams
The defendant appeals from his conviction of operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of intoxicating liquor, fifth or subsequent offense. He argues that the prosecutor should not have been permitted to cross-examine him about whether he had been asked to perform field sobriety tests on an earlier occasion. The defendant also argues that he was prevented from presenting his defense by the trial judge’s ruling that if the defendant testified that he gave a false name because his driver’s license was suspended, the Commonwealth would be permitted to present evidence of the reason that the license was suspended.
Whether the trial judge erred in ruling that if the defendant testified that he gave a false name because his driver’s license was suspended, the Commonwealth would be permitted to present evidence of the reason that the license was suspended?
Here the judge did not abuse his broad discretion. The defendant offered, as an excuse for his poor performance on the field sobriety tests, his statement that he was angry because he did not know why he was having all those tests done to him; in doing so, he opened the door to the prosecutor’s fair questions about whether he had been asked to perform those same tests on earlier occasions. In addition, only the three questions described above were asked, and the defendant’s convictions were neither admitted in evidence nor mentioned. The judge gave an immediate instruction limiting the jury’s consideration of those questions and responses only as to the issue of the defendant’s performance on the field sobriety tests. We see no error. Regarding the defendant’s testimony admitting giving a false name and the court’s consequent ruling, the court held the judge, in fact, made no such ruling, and at two separate side bar conferences, he reserved judgment on the issue and reminded counsel to approach the bench before the subject was touched upon so that the matter could be argued at that time. Defense counsel did not ask for a conference before the defendant testified; the defendant did not testify that he gave a false name because his license was suspended; and those cross-examination questions were never posed. There was no error.