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United States v. Engle

United States District Court, District of Wyoming

December 16, 2019

AMANDA A. ENGLE, Defendant.



         This Court having considered and evaluated the evidence and legal arguments presented finds:

         1. Defendant Amanda A. Engle NOT GUILTY of violating 36 C.F.R. § 2.34(a)(4) in maintaining a hazardous condition as charged in Violation Notice 7137038 as occurring on June 26, 2019 within the boundaries of Yellowstone National Park.

         2. Defendant Amanda A. Engle GUILTY of violating 36 C.F.R. § 4.23(a)(1) by operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of drugs as charged in Violation Notice 7137048 as occurring on June 26, 2019 within the boundaries of Yellowstone National Park.

         3. Defendant Amanda A. Engle GUILTY of violating 36 C.F.R. § 4.13(a) by stopping or parking on a roadway as charged in Violation Notice 7137049 as occurring on June 26, 2019 within the boundaries of Yellowstone National Park.


         This matter was tried before the Court on November 8, 2019 with the United States represented by Mr. Francis Leland Pico and the Defendant represented by Mr. Eric T. Oden. The United States presented the testimony of Ranger Arrah M. La Bolle, Drug Recognition Expert and Ranger Nicholas Derene, and Forensic Toxicologist Michelle A. Duffus. Defendant Amanda A. Engle testified as well. Due to the nature of this case it is necessary to set forth a detailed review of the facts regarding all tests which were used with Defendant. The Court finds the following facts:

         1. Ranger Arrah M. La Bolle graduated magna cum laude from the University of Idaho, attaining a bachelor's degree in Spanish and International Relations. In 2013 Ranger La Bolle attended the Seasonal Law Enforcement Training Program at Skagit Valley College and became a seasonal law enforcement officer in Yellowstone National Park. She attended the Park Medic Training Academy in 2014 and then returned to Yellowstone National Park. Ranger La Bolle became a permanent ranger at Yellowstone National Park in March 2019.

         2. Ranger Nicholas Derene, who testified as a Drug Recognition Expert, attended Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Prescott, Arizona and graduated in 2002 with a bachelor's degree summa cum laude in Aerospace Studies. Ranger Derene attended graduate school at the University of Wisconsin in a non-degree conferring program focused on wildlife biology. After working a few wildlife conservation-related jobs, he took a job operating educational programs with the Yellowstone Association in 2008. In 2011, Ranger Derene attended a law enforcement academy for the National Park Service and has been a commissioned law enforcement ranger at Yellowstone National Park ever since. Ranger Derene is a permanent ranger and attended the Federal Law Enforcement Training Program in Georgia in 2016, focusing on land management police training. Ranger Derene has attended many other training programs focusing on DUI enforcement, obtaining certification in Standardized Field Sobriety Testing ("SFST"), Advanced Roadside Impaired Driving Enforcement ("ARIDE"), Senior Intoxilyzer operations, and as a SFST Instructor. He is also certified as a Drug Recognition Expert ("DRE"), which requires extensive training upfront, continuing education, and recertification every two years. As an officer, Ranger Derene has worked on approximately 120-150 arrests and approximately 500-600 investigations. Ranger Derene has conducted eighty-one evaluations as a DRE. Additionally, Ranger Derene has medical training including studying advanced biology in graduate school and physiology as a pilot, researching behavioral reactions to physical processes in graduate school, and training as a Wilderness First Responder, Emergency Medical Technician ("EMT"), Advanced EMT, and Park Medic.

         3. Forensic Toxicologist Michelle A. Duffus earned a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry, with an emphasis in Forensic Chemistry, from the University of Montana in 2009. Ms. Duffus works for the State of Montana Forensic Science Division, which is also known as the Montana State Crime Lab and has been employed there since 2011. Her current job responsibilities include testing bodily fluids for the presence of drugs and alcohol for the purposes of law enforcement. Ms. Duffus's job title is a Forensic Toxicologist. Ms. Duffus has completed the Montana Law Enforcement Academy's basic Driving Under the Influence ("DUI") Week, the ARIDE course, and the DRE course. She is not a DRE because she is not in law enforcement.

         4. Ms. Amanda A. Engle ("Defendant") has been a registered, certified pharmacy technician for twenty-three years. She is also a Type I, insulin-dependent diabetic and has been since she was eighteen years old. Ms. Engle uses an insulin pump. She has also been prescribed alprazolam (Xanax), citalopram/escitalopram (Lexapro), amphetamine (Adderall), hydroxyzine, and mirtazapine (Remeron) for about five or six years.

         5. During the trial, the United States of America sought to introduce nine government exhibits, including: (1) body camera video from Ranger La Bolle; (2) additional camera video from Ranger La Bolle; (3) body camera video from Ranger Derene; (4) additional body camera video from Ranger Derene; (5) additional body camera video from Ranger Derene; (6) a body camera exhibit table of contents relating to Exhibits 1-5; and (7) the toxicology report from Amanda A. Engle. All exhibits the government sought to introduce were admitted into evidence without objection.

         6. Defendant also sought to introduce one exhibit, labeled as Exhibit A, which was a copy of Ranger Derene's handwritten rolling log. Exhibit A was admitted into evidence without objection.

         Events Leading to Defendant's Traffic Stop

         7. On the evening of June 26, 2019, Ranger La Bolle was on patrol in the Old Faithful developed area and encountered the vehicle Defendant was driving on the inbound road to Old Faithful just after exiting the overpass. The vehicle was stopped in the left-hand lane of traffic near the Three Sisters Junction.[1] Ranger La Bolle observed the vehicle stopped for about forty seconds. Two vehicles approached Defendant's vehicle and had to wait behind her vehicle while she was stopped. Ranger La Bolle followed Defendant's vehicle, observing the vehicle drift into the right-hand lane, crossing the white dividing line and staying across the dividing line for about 100 feet before drifting back into the left-hand lane. Defendant's vehicle entered a well-marked crosswalk area and continued into the Old Faithful area at approximately forty miles per hour-five miles above the speed limit. Just before the crosswalk the vehicle braked abruptly before coming to a nearly complete stop and then continuing through the crosswalk. The vehicle continued to weave in its lane. After Ranger La Bolle saw the vehicle drift into the right-hand lane again she turned on her overhead lights. Ranger La Bolle approached the driver's window and Defendant stated "what?" in an agitated voice. Ranger La Bolle then asked Defendant to move the vehicle to a parking lot, to which Defendant at first seemed confused about where Ranger La Bolle wished her to go. At that point, Ranger La Bolle believed that it was possible Defendant was impaired, based on the numerous driving behaviors Ranger La Bolle had observed. Further, Defendant's "what" response also indicated to Ranger La Bolle agitation and restlessness, which she noted at trial can also indicate impairment.

         8. After Defendant moved her car to the parking area, but failed to pull into a marked parking spot, Ranger La Bolle explained the reason for her stop. Defendant explained that she did not remember stopping in the lane of traffic earlier. Ranger La Bolle noted Defendant's interlock device in the vehicle and returned to her own vehicle to check Defendant's license with her dispatcher.

         9. Around the time that Ranger La Bolle was checking Defendant's license, Ranger Derene arrived on the scene, and Ranger La Bolle informed him that they would be performing field sobriety testing. Ranger La Bolle returned to Defendant's vehicle and asked Defendant to come back to her patrol vehicle to have a conversation with her. Even though Ranger La Bolle asked Defendant to sit on the bumper of her patrol vehicle, Defendant stood next to the vehicle. Ranger La Bolle explained Defendant's driving behavior and that she believed she had smelled marijuana in the vehicle. Based on these behaviors, Ranger La Bolle explained that she wished to conduct field sobriety testing. Defendant complied.

         Defendant's Performance on Field Sobriety Testing

         10. Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus Test.

         This test is an ARIDE test. In testimony, Ranger La Bolle explained that nystagmus is involuntary jerking of the eyes and there are many kinds of nystagmus. In this test, the officer looks for a horizontal jerking of the eye when the eye is traveling horizontally. Horizontal gaze nystagmus is associated with depressants, inhalants, and dissociative anesthetics. Lack of horizontal gaze nystagmus is consistent with stimulants. Ranger La Bolle observed an unusual jerking of Defendant's eyes. Defendant also exhibited head jerk movements. According to Ranger La Bolle's testimony, these occur when an individual follows the tip of the officer's finger with their head as well as their eyes-even though they are instructed to only do so with their eyes. Additionally, Defendant interrupted the test. Ranger La Bolle noted in trial that the inability to focus on the test or complete the test as instructed are both indicators of impairment. Head jerk movements are a form of divided attention. Other behaviors range depending on the category of drugs. Restless or agitated behavior, such as interrupting the test, is another indicator of impairment.

         11. Lack of Convergence Test.

         For the lack of convergence test, the ranger instructs individuals to focus on the tip of the ranger's finger and then circles the finger twice before bringing it in to the individual's nose and holding it there for about one or two seconds. Convergence refers to an individual's ability to cross their eyes and maintain the cross when the finger is above the nose. If the individual is not able to converge the eyes, it could be due to a natural lack of convergence or a substance, such as a drug, affecting the body's ability to perform that convergence. Lack of convergence is associated with depressants, inhalants, dissociative anesthetics, and cannabis. Ranger La Bolle conducted two passes and observed lack of convergence on both passes. Defendant asked Ranger La Bolle to start the test over again during the second pass and demonstrated head jerk movements during the test.

         12. Walk and Turn Test.

         The walk and turn test is a SFST. Ranger La Bolle instructed Defendant on how to perform the test and demonstrated the instructions. Defendant took two heel-to-toe steps along the line, rather than holding the position as Ranger La Bolle instructed. To hold the position, Defendant swayed and raised her arms to maintain balance. She continued to do so after stepping out of the position and being told to resume the position. During the next set of instructions, Defendant interrupted them and, according to Ranger La Bolle's testimony, said something to the effect of "I can't even do this when I'm ... when I'm ...." Ranger La Bolle continued instructions and confirmed that Defendant had no questions. When there were questions, Ranger La Bolle clarified and demonstrated them. Defendant began the test prior to being told to do so, though instructed not to begin until told, took many steps without touching heel to toe, stopped for additional instructions on how to complete the turn, completed the turn incorrectly, stopped again, and took more steps without touching heel to toe on many of them. Out of the test's eight validated clues, Ranger La Bolle scored Defendant as having missed six. Ranger La Bolle saw a common indicator of impairment in the inability to remember how to correctly complete the turn, inability to remember the instructions after saying she remembered the instructions, and unsteady balance.

         13. One Leg Stand Test.

         The one leg stand test is another SFST. In this test, the person is instructed to raise one foot, look at the raised foot, keep their hands at their sides, and to count until told to stop. During the test, Defendant exhibited sway at least two inches from center, leg tremors, stopped the test to ask if it was what Ranger La Bolle was looking for, and stopped before being told to stop. Ranger La Bolle does not score body sway unless it is more than two inches off center. Out of the four validated clues for this test, Ranger La Bolle testified that she scored Defendant as having three clues of impairment out of four. As to the body tremors, Ranger La Bolle observed these in Defendant's legs and noted that this is an indication she is trained to look for in impairment.

         14. Modified Romberg Balance Test.

         This test is an ARIDE test. For this test the individual stands with feet together, hands at side, head tilted back and closed eyes. The individual is told to maintain the position for thirty seconds. Ranger La Bolle testified that she has been trained to consider anything either five seconds below or above thirty seconds to be outside the normal range. In this test, Defendant exhibited body sway and eyelid tremors, and Defendant estimated twenty-nine seconds as thirty seconds. Eyelid tremors can be caused by stimulants and/or cannabis and, according to Ranger La Bolle's training officers, less than one percent of individuals exhibit eyelid tremors naturally.

         15. Finger to Nose Test.

         In the finger to nose test, Defendant is instructed to make a closed fist leaving the index fingers extended. The hands stay by the legs until they come up to the nose. There are six passes for this test, three on each side. After the second pass of the test, Ranger La Bolle observed the whites of Defendants eyes and had to instruct Defendant to close her eyes again. Defendant also missed the tip of her nose four times out of six passes.

         16. Following these six field sobriety tests, Ranger La Bolle conducted the preliminary breath test and Defendant blew all zeroes.

         Events Following Field Sobriety Testing

         17. After field sobriety testing, Ranger La Bolle left Defendant with another officer while a cursory search of Defendant's vehicle was completed. During the search, Ranger La Bolle found prescription bottles-four of which were labeled in Defendant's name and one which was unmarked. The list of medications included Adderall, dextroamphetamine, Lexapro, Xanax, and Remeron. There were also five children in Defendant's vehicle, all of whom had been there since the time Ranger La Bolle first saw the vehicle.

         18. Following the cursory vehicle search, Ranger La Bolle searched Defendant's person and found her insulin pump.

         19. After search of Defendant's person, Ranger La Bolle placed Defendant under arrest for DUI. Defendant was then transported to the Old Faithful Ranger Station while two other officers remained with Defendant's vehicle and her children.

         20. At the Old Faithful Ranger Station, Ranger La Bolle spoke with Defendant to explain her Miranda rights and ability to consent to the blood draw. Defendant waived Miranda rights and consented to the blood draw.

         21. Ranger La Bolle drew Defendant's blood and was the individual who placed the blood into the kit. Ranger La Bolle maintained possession of the blood draw kit while Ranger Derene conducted a DRE drug influence evaluation.

         PRE Drug Influence Evaluation

         1. At trial, Ranger Derene testified about the history of DRE training programs, DRE testing, and the accuracy of such tests.

         2. The DRE program has been adopted by all fifty states and four countries. It is administered by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the International Association of Chiefs of Police. In the mid-1970s law enforcement and others recognized that DUIs needed taken more seriously and started standardizing impairment tests. In 1978, the SFSTs were created. In 1979, California officers were noting a lot of DUIs arising from drug-based impairment, so they began to develop a system to detect and prosecute DUIs arising from impairment by non-alcohol substances. The Los Angeles Police Department formalized what is now known as DRE training in order to accomplish these goals.

         3. In 1984, researchers at Johns Hopkins University took individuals, blood tested them to ensure they were not under the influence and gave them different medications. The individuals could either receive a placebo, secobarbital, Valium (with a low and high dose), dextroamphetamine (with a low and high dose), and marijuana (with a low or high dose of THC). Then, the researchers conducted approximately 320 DRE evaluations. Of the high-dose individuals, ninety-nine percent of the evaluations found they were impaired by a substance, of the low-dose individuals, some of those were classified as impaired and others were not, and ...

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