final until disposition of any timely and authorized motion
under Fla. R. App. P. 9.330 or 9.331.
appeal from the Circuit Court for Santa Rosa County. Ross M.
Thomas, Public Defender, Maria Ines Suber, Assistant Public
Defender, Tallahassee, for Appellant.
Jo Bondi, Attorney General, Kaitlin Weiss, Assistant Attorney
General, Tallahassee, for Appellee.
was convicted of driving under the influence causing death,
driving under the influence causing serious personal injury,
and driving under the influence causing property damage.
Although Appellant was charged and found guilty of vehicular
homicide and driving without a valid license, the State
dismissed those counts. Appellant was sentenced to a lengthy
term of imprisonment. The charges were based on a traffic
accident in which the State's expert witness testified
Appellant was driving approximately 79 miles per hour when he
drove into the victims' car. The impact of the accident
killed one 13-year-old victim and seriously injured another
tragic events began twelve hours after Appellant was released
from the county jail. Appellant struck a vehicle but did not
stop, and the driver of that car pursued Appellant in an
attempt to obtain his tag number. Appellant then ran a stop
sign, hit a guard rail, and crashed into the victims'
car, causing the death and injuries. Appellant's blood
test showed .90 milligrams of methamphetamine and .10
milligrams of amphetamine per liter of his blood.
State presented the expert testimony of Dr. Bruce Goldberger,
Director of Toxicology and Chief of the Division of Forensic
Medicine at the University of Florida College of Medicine.
The defense objected to Dr. Goldberger's testimony,
arguing that the evidence was not admissible under
Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, Inc., 509
U.S. 579 (1993).
the pretrial Daubert hearing, Dr. Goldberger
testified that methamphetamine impacts on human physiology
have been known for "more than a century, " but
most studies analyzing amphetamine and methamphetamine are
"case-type" studies, because doctors cannot
ethically give human subjects impairing doses of amphetamine
or methamphetamine. He testified that epidemiologic studies
have been conducted of drug impacts on traffic accidents. Dr.
Goldberger published four books, including the "Handbook
of Workplace Drug Testing, " which contained a chapter
on methamphetamines. Dr. Goldberger testified that if he is
informed of details from before, during, and after a crash,
including any relevant blood samples tested for drug
consumption, he can form an accurate opinion on whether that
person was impaired. He further testified that he had
utilized this analytical method "maybe thousands of
times, " and it is a method commonly accepted in the
field of forensic toxicology.
Goldberger testified that there is no set amount of
amphetamine that would necessarily constitute impairment. He
testified that a person who had been incarcerated for "a
period of time" with no access to amphetamines would
have no tolerance to the substance upon leaving
Goldberger testified that he tested Appellant's blood
sample and that "this concentration is a very
significant . . . [i]ndividuals will die as a consequence of
ingesting this much methamphetamine." Based on his tests
and studies of the effects of methamphetamine on the body and
on a person's driving, many of the details of the episode
- speeding, running a stop sign, crashing into a guardrail,
rear-ending a car, having dilated pupils, glassy eyes,
rambling speech, cottonmouth, being restless and scratching
himself in a hospital bed - were consistent with someone who
was impaired by methamphetamine. Dr. Goldberger testified
that the method proposed by the State - whereby the
prosecutor would pose a hypothetical situation identical to
the facts of the present case, and he would testify as to
whether those facts were consistent with someone impaired by
methamphetamine - was a method that is generally accepted in
the field of forensic toxicology. The trial court found the
testimony proffered by the State was relevant and necessary
to assist the jury in understanding the issue, and that the
method proposed by Dr. Goldberger was admissible under
trial, Dr. Goldberger testified that the facts in evidence
were consistent with impairment caused by the ingestion of
methamphetamine. He also testified that, because giving test
subjects impairing amounts of methamphetamine is "too
dangerous, " there is not a generally accepted method of
extrapolation to determine time of ingestion for
methamphetamine and the time within which impairment would
occur. On cross-examination, Dr. Goldberger testified that he
could not determine whether the ingestion of the drug
occurred two, five, or eight hours before the crash.
State submitted into evidence Appellant's certified
driving record, to which Appellant objected, asserting the
record was prejudicial under section 90.403, Florida
Statutes. The trial court ruled that the record of active
suspensions of Appellant's driver's license (with
previous convictions redacted) was relevant to prove that
Appellant drove while he knew his license was suspended. The
partially redacted driving record was admitted into evidence
over Appellant's objection.
asserts reversible errors based on the admission of Dr.
Goldberger's testimony under Daubert, the
admission of Appellant's redacted driving record, and the
evidence of his release from county detention shortly before
the traffic accident. We hold that the trial court ...