Appeals Court upholds DWI conviction

A Drew County man convicted of third-offense DWI in 2012 failed to convince the Arkansas Court of Appeals that his conviction was the result of an illegal roadblock.

David Colby Snow had contended on appeal that the roadblock where he was stopped was set up specifically for him and therefore unconstitutional.

According to the appeals court ruling, an Arkansas State Police supervisor authorized a sobriety checkpoint to be set up for a period of one hour on Aug. 26, 2011, at the intersection of Florence and Jose Chapel roads in rural Drew County.

Two troopers were assigned to the checkpoint and shortly after it was established, the troopers saw a vehicle come around a curve toward the checkpoint. The driver of the vehicle slammed on his brakes a short distance from the checkpoint, turned into a cemetery and turned off his headlights.

One of the troopers went to the vehicle to see if the driver was trying to avoid the checkpoint and found that the vehicle’s occupants had gotten out and were standing near the front passenger side tire. Snow acknowledged being the driver. According to the report, he had a strong odor of intoxicants. A series of field sobriety tests were performed and after the trooper determined that Snow was probably impaired, he was arrested.

On appeal, Snow argued that the evidence obtained as a result of the stop should have been suppressed, because the roadblock was “set up as a mere subterfuge,” but that question was never raised or ruled on by the trial court.

The motion to suppress did not mention the roadblock at all. In fact, the only mention of it came at the end of the court hearing when Snow asked for a ruling on whether the roadblock was constitutional, and the trial court ruled that it was.

Appeals Court Judge John Mauzy Pittman wrote that the attorney for Snow failed to tell the trial judge that his client believed the roadblock was set up for the sole purpose of stopping him and no other person, and failed to get a ruling on that contention.

“An objection must be sufficiently specific to apprise the court of the particular error alleged,” Pittman said in the Appeals Court ruling, “and a party cannot enlarge or change the grounds for an objection or motion on appeal but instead is bound by the scope and nature of the arguments made at trial.”