OCEANSIDE — A repeat drunk driver escaped a fourth DUI conviction Feb. 20 after a jury deadlocked in her trial in a Vista courtroom.
After a full day of deliberation, jurors informed Superior Court Judge Robert Dahlquist they were hopelessly deadlocked on the two felony DUI charges against Tammy Evans. The panel was in favor of guilt 7-5 for driving under the influence, while it was hung 7-5 in favor of not guilty for driving under the influence with a measurable blood alcohol level of .08 or more.
Following the jury’s announcement, Dahlquist set an April 9 trial date at the request of prosecutor Robert Eacret.
During the prosecution’s closing statement, Eacret argued Evans drove to Oceanside Harbor while under the influence of alcohol around dusk June 25 with the intention to continue drinking on the beach. Harbor police contacted Evans on the beach and she had a cooler containing a water bottle full of vodka and another bottle filled halfway with juice mixed with vodka approximately 15 to 30 minutes after she parked her truck, Eacret told jurors. He said police were tipped off about Evans after two young men reported her to authorities after she’d asked them if they wanted to party with her.
The two witnesses said they didn’t notice any bad driving from Evans as she pulled into the parking lot. However, one of the men said she seemed a “little out of it” and smelled of alcohol as she spoke to them.
Evans testified she planned on spending the evening on the beach. She said she drank a mixed drink around noon and then took a nap before heading out to the harbor. She admitted she lied to the officer when asked if she was drinking on the beach because she knew it was illegal.
Evans had a .21 BAC two hours after her arrest. Her attorney, Rick Crawford, told jurors in his closing statement Evans has had gastric bypass surgery, which would cause her peak alcohol levels to increase faster.
Crawford told the panel it would have been difficult for Evans to safely navigate her vehicle into the parking lot without witnesses saying she made any poor movements with her vehicle if she had been intoxicated.
Evans was convicted in January 2007 of three separate DUIs. In two of the offenses she had a .32 and a .34 BAC, respectively. In California, a felony DUI is charged after an individual’s third misdemeanor DUI conviction.
If convicted of her fourth DUI — Evans, who was released in May after serving several months in jail for her prior DUIs — faces four and half years in prison. She remains in custody on $530,000 bail.