Oregon v. HedgpethAnnotate this Case
Defendant John Hedgpeth challenged his conviction for driving under the influence of intoxicants (DUII) by driving with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of at least .08 percent. The record consisted solely of evidence that a breathalyzer test measured defendant’s BAC as .09 percent nearly two hours after he drove and that defendant had consumed no additional alcohol in the interim. The Court of Appeals agreed with defendant that the state’s evidence was insufficient to demonstrate that defendant drove with a BAC of at least .08 percent. The Oregon Supreme Court allowed the state’s petition for review to consider whether “common knowledge” of the proposition that blood alcohol levels dissipate over time permitted a factfinder reasonably to infer that defendant drove with a blood alcohol level above the legal limit from evidence that defendant’s blood alcohol level two hours later was .09 percent, with no consumption in the interim. On those bare facts, the Supreme Court concurred with the appellate court that something more than the generic proposition that blood alcohol levels dissipate over time was needed to permit a nonspeculative inference that the defendant drove with a blood alcohol level above the legal limit.