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Passing mention of prescription drug didn’t taint OWI trial

State v. Jeffrey M. Halida, 2013AP1298, District 2, 11/13/13; court of appeals decision (1-judge; ineligible for publication); case activity

Halida was arrested for OWI after a motorcycle accident. In response to routine medical questions asked before the blood draw, he told the officer he took two Oxycodone pills earlier that day for a hand injury. (¶¶4-6). The officer’s reference to Halida’s statement at trial was not prejudicial because “[i]n view of the record, the mention of Oxycodone was superfluous and immaterial, even though unnecessary to the State’s prosecution of the case.” (¶9). The officer’s brief statement was the only mention of the Oxycodone and there was no suggestion the drug affected Halida’s ability to drive. (¶¶9-10.) Moreover, the charges and instructions unmistakably communicated to the jury that Halida’s guilt depended on the evidence of his alcohol consumption, so there is no basis to believe that the jury factored in the Oxycodone when weighing Halida’s guilt. (¶11). Finally, even if the jury did consider the Oxycodone, there was overwhelming evidence of guilt: Halida smelled of alcohol and had bloodshot eyes; he admitted he had been drinking for almost twelve hours until shortly before the accident; and his blood alcohol was .178. (¶10).

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