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Name: People v. Benner
Case #: G042127
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 4 DCA
Division: 3
Opinion Date: 06/14/2010
Summary

In a case involving a Vehicle Code section 23152, subdivision (a) violation, sufficient evidence of driving impairment due to drug use can be provided by expert testimony and the evaluation of defendant’s performance on field sobriety tests. Observing appellant driving a vehicle with expired registration tags, the police officer signaled her to pull over. Rather than pulling to the curb, appellant moved into the left lane and pulled into a fast food restaurant. As she did so, she threw a bindle out the window of her car. The officer retrieved it and determined that it contained methamphetamine. Appellant was arrested and transported to the police station where she performed poorly on field sobriety tests. Additionally, a blood test revealed the presence of methamphetamine in her system. The appellate court rejected appellant’s claim that her conviction for driving under the influence of a drug was based on insufficient evidence. The testimony of the drug recognition expert who observed appellant and gave her the field sobriety tests provided evidence such that the jury could conclude that methamphetamine could impair a person’s ability to drive and that appellant’s driving ability was so impaired.
The trial court erred in ordering payment of certain fees and costs as conditions of probation. The appellate court ordered the conditions stricken, including the one addressing the alcohol and drug assessment fee (Veh. Code, sec. 23649) because it is contingent on the imposition and collection of the fine, and here there was no collection since the fine was converted to time.