OF JUDGMENT: 01/11/2017
COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT HON. STEVE S. RATCLIFF III JUDGE
ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT: V.W. CARMODY JR.
ATTORNEY FOR APPELLEE: DAVID RINGER
GRIFFIS, P.J., WESTBROOKS AND TINDELL, JJ.
James Burke pleaded no contest to a charge for driving under
the influence (DUI). Burke appealed the municipal court's
judgment of conviction to the Rankin County Court. The county
court found Burke guilty of the DUI charge - his first
offense for DUI. Burke filed a motion to reconsider, and the
county court denied that motion. Burke appealed the county
court's decision to the Rankin County Circuit Court, and
the court affirmed Burke's conviction. Aggrieved, Burke
now appeals. Finding no error, we affirm.
AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
On October 4, 2011, Burke was involved in a single-car
accident. The vehicle became engulfed in flames while Burke
was still inside and passed out. Two civilians stopped to
assist getting Burke out of the burning truck. Sergeant Tony
Bunkley of the Florence Police Department arrived first at
the scene and joined the civilians' rescue effort.
Officer Jason Goad arrived on the scene in time to help
Bunkley and the two civilians pull Burke out of the burning
vehicle. Goad testified that when he grabbed Burke to pull
him out, Goad smelled a pungent odor of alcohol on
Bunkley attempted to speak with Burke after retrieving him
from the vehicle and noticed that Burke was swaying. Bunkley
asked Burke for his location prior to the accident, and Burke
responded that he was coming from a local bar. Bunkley
smelled the odor of alcohol on Burke's breath and noticed
that his speech was slurred. Bunkley also observed that
Burke's eyes were glassy, and his pupils were dilated.
Bunkley began to believe that Burke was intoxicated.
According to Bunkley, he did not perform a field-sobriety
test because of the injuries Burke sustained in the crash.
Burke was taken to the hospital, where he refused to consent
to blood testing. Bunkley went to the hospital and spoke with
Burke. Burke admitted that he was a recovering drug-addict
and alcoholic and just had relapsed. According to Bunkley,
Burke also admitted to having a beer at the bar.
As a result of the circumstances surrounding Burke's
accident, Bunkley believed that Burke was driving under the
influence of alcohol. Bunkley arrested Burke and charged him
with DUI. Burke pleaded no contest before the municipal
court. He then appealed to the county court for de novo
proceedings. After a trial, the county court also found Burke
guilty of the DUI charge. Burke then appealed to the circuit
court, which affirmed the trial court's decision.
During trial, Bunkley testified that in his experience as a
law enforcement officer, he believed Burke was intoxicated.
Bunkley also testified that the two civilians who assisted
with removing Burke from his truck stated that they noticed
Burke weaving on the highway in front of them, and when they
saw the truck again, it was toppled and on fire.
Additionally, Burke tendered Dr. Jimmie Valentine as an
expert witness in the area of pharmacology and toxicology, as
well as an expert in concussions. The State only objected to
Dr. Valentine's qualification as an expert on the effect
of concussions. The basis for the State's objection to
Dr. Valentine's opinion on the subject of concussions was
his testimony during ...