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Nguyen v. State

Court of Appeals of Georgia

March 2, 2015

NGUYEN
v.
THE STATE

DUI. Hall State Court. Before Judge Roberts.

Judgment affirmed.

Troy R. Millikan, for appellant.

Stephanie D. Woodard, Solicitor-General, Amber R. Sowers, Assistant Solicitor-General, for appellee.

RAY, Judge. Andrews, P. J., and McFadden, J., concur.

OPINION

Page 559

Ray, Judge.

After a trial in which he represented himself pro se, Trung Nguyen was convicted of one count of driving under the influence (less safe) (OCGA § 40-6-391 (a) (1)). Nguyen appeals from his conviction, arguing that the trial court erred in admitting a similar transaction into evidence and that the State erred in discussing such evidence during its opening statement. Nguyen also argues that the trial court erred in ruling that he knowingly and intelligently waived his right to counsel. For the following reasons, we affirm.

On appeal from a criminal conviction, we view the evidence in the light most favorable to the verdict, with the defendant no longer enjoying a presumption of innocence. We neither weigh the evidence nor judge the credibility of witnesses, but determine only whether, after viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the prosecution, a rational trier of fact could have found the essential elements of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt.

( Citations and punctuation omitted.) Owens v. State, 326 Ga.App. 692, 692 (757 S.E.2d 288) (2014).

The evidence at trial showed that Officer Matt Reeves of the Flowery Branch Police Department initiated a traffic stop on Nguyen's vehicle after noticing he was exhibiting a " pattern of erratic and less-safe driving" that included weaving in and out of his lane, accelerating and decelerating his speed, and failing to use his brake lights. As the officer approached the vehicle, he smelled an odor of alcohol emanating from the vehicle's open window and noticed that Nguyen's eyes had a glazed, watery, and bloodshot appearance. Nguyen told the officer that he had been drinking beer that evening. The officer then gave Nguyen field sobriety tests, and from the tests' results, the officer concluded that Nguyen was " impaired. He shouldn't have been on the road. He was too drunk to have been on the road." The officer also testified that he overheard Nguyen state, in a phone call to his wife, that " I don't know how I got so drunk, but I'm under arrest for DUI." A blood test taken approximately an hour and a half after the initial traffic stop revealed a blood alcohol level of 0.078. The State provided expert testimony that Nguyen's blood alcohol content at the time of the stop was likely between 0.088 and 0.103.

1. Nguyen asserts that the trial court erred in failing to adequately ascertain that the waiver of his right to counsel was knowing and voluntary.

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