State v. GodwinAnnotate this Case
Defendant was convicted of driving while impaired. The court of appeals awarded Defendant a new trial, concluding that N.C. R. Evid. 702(a1) requires that a witness explicitly be found to be an expert before testifying to the results of a horizontal gaze nystagmus (HGN) test and that the trial court erred in failing to recognize the law enforcement officer in this case as an expert pursuant to rule 702(a). The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the court of appeals awarding Defendant a new trial, holding (1) rule 702(a1) does not require a law enforcement officer to be recognized explicitly as an expert witness pursuant to rule 702(a) before he may testify to the results of an HGN test, and the trial court implicitly recognized the officer as an expert prior to allowing him to testify as to the issue of Defendant’s impairment; and (2) the trial court did not err in denying Defendant’s request for a special jury instruction to explain that results of a chemical breath test are not conclusive evidence of impairment.