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Juan Carlos Valdez Venegas v. the State of Wyoming

October 30, 2012

JUAN CARLOS VALDEZ VENEGAS, APPELLANT (DEFENDANT),
v.
THE STATE OF WYOMING, APPELLEE (PLAINTIFF).



Appeal from the District Court of Albany County The Honorable Jeffrey A. Donnell, Judge

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hill, Justice.

Before KITE, C.J., and GOLDEN,*fn1 HILL, VOIGT, and BURKE, JJ.

[¶1] After being charged with driving while under the influence, Juan Carlos Valdez Venegas (Venegas) appeals a district court's denial of his motion to suppress based upon his contention that the officer's stop was based upon an improper anonymous informant. Additionally, Venegas asserts that there was insufficient evidence for a jury to convict him. We affirm.

ISSUES

[¶2] Venegas states three issues:

1. Whether the decision of the lower court to deny the motion to suppress of the defendant was in error, or constituted an abuse of discretion, and/or was arbitrary and capricious under the facts and circumstances of this case.

2. Whether there was sufficient evidence to convict the defendant of the charge of driving while under the influence, as applied to him, and under the facts and circumstances of this case.

3. Whether the trial court erred in denying [Vinegas's] motion for new trial in light of the insufficiency of evidence adduced at trial.

FACTS

[¶3] On March 17, 2011, while on foot patrol, a Laramie police officer was approached by a female who reported that Venegas had been drinking at the Buckhorn Bar, was "wasted," and was about to drive away in his vehicle.

[¶4] The police officer located Venegas's vehicle as it was pulling away. The officer shined his flashlight at the driver, who nearly hit the officer. Venegas was instructed to stop, which he did. Upon contacting Venegas, the officer noted signs of intoxication, including Venegas's difficulty exiting the vehicle and his inability to comply with simple instructions for field sobriety tests. Venegas ultimately refused to take the field sobriety tests and portable breath testing. Venegas was then arrested and taken to the Albany County Detention Center, where he also refused chemical testing.

[¶5] Venegas was charged with a felony DUI, his fourth. He filed a motion to suppress, claiming that his stop and arrest were unconstitutional because the officer's actions were based upon a tip from an unidentified informant. The motion was denied, and the case was tried before a jury on September 2, 2011. After the jury found Venegas guilty, he filed a motion for new trial, which the court denied. He was sentenced to 18-24 months, and this appeal followed.

DISCUSSION

[ΒΆ6] In his first issue, Venegas argues that the district court erred in denying his motion to suppress, complaining that the arresting police officer relied upon the tip of an unknown, unidentified female who approached him on the street. Venegas contends that just because an officer is told someone is intoxicated does not make it so. The State responds that the police officer had reasonable suspicion that Venegas was drunk, based upon a tip from ...


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