On Sunday June 26, 2016 at approximately 4:00 am, Maryland State Trooper First Class Dustin Pope, pulled over a Honda minivan in the area of Rt. 50 and Nesbit Road for a headlight out and excessive speed.
The driver of the vehicle was identified as Dinsmorre Downer. The Trooper detected an odor of alcohol and mint chewing gum on Downer’s breath. Mr. Downer denied drinking alcohol prior to the traffic stop and stated that the odor was from a friend spilling a beer in the rear area of the van. The Trooper further noted that Downer’s speech was slurred and his eyes were bloodshot.
The Trooper asked Downer to exit the vehicle and when doing so Downer had to use the car for support. Downer agreed to submit to the horizontal gaze nystagmus roadside test, but refused any additional sobriety tests. Downer claimed that he could not do any physical tests due to bad knees and arthritis in his legs from years of construction work.
Downer was placed under arrest for suspicion of driving under the influence. After being placed under arrest, Downer requested that the Trooper retrieve a wallet and phone from the van. When the Trooper entered the van he checked the rear passenger compartment area and did not smell the odor of alcohol anymore, nor were there any wet spots on the carpet from a beverage being spilled, as had been the earlier claim by Downer. Mr. Downer was transported to the Maryland State Police Barracks and refused to submit to a breath test.
A jury trial was held in the Circuit Court for Queen Anne’s County on May 19, 2017. Trooper Pope testified about his roadside encounter with Mr. Downer and explained the results of the horizontal gaze nystagmus test and based on the results of the roadside test, and other observations, determined that Mr. Downer was under the influence of alcohol. Mr. Downer then testified that he did not drink any alcohol the night of the incident and was on his way to see a friend to help him with a resume. On cross examination by Deputy State’s Attorney Michael “Mick” Cuches it was revealed that Downer was not actually traveling to see a friend, but rather the mother of his unborn child. This lady was also determined to not be his wife. Mr. Downer further testified that he was not presently in a relationship with this “friend”, does not drink alcohol and did not drink alcohol anytime during June of 2016. The defense then called Mr. Downer’s “friend” who testified that she picked Downer up from the State Police Barracks that morning and he was not drunk at the time. On cross examination the friend admitted she was still in a romantic relationship with Mr. Downer, he still drinks alcohol socially and did in fact drink alcohol in June of 2016. Mr. Cuches also pointed out that Mr. Downer was able to walk perfectly fine up the courthouse steps and into the courtroom disputing his claim of bad knees and arthritis plagued legs.
After deliberating only twenty (20) minutes, the jury convicted Mr. Downer of the top charge of Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol. The State then filed subsequent offender penalties based on a prior DUI conviction in Virginia in 2015. Mr. Downer was subsequently sentenced to 18 months of incarceration, which was suspended except for 30 days to serve in the Queen Anne’s County Detention Center. He was ordered to pay a fine, court costs and was placed on 2 years of supervised probation upon his release from jail.