Argued: May 7, 2019
J. Gannon, Esq. (orally), Lipman & Katz, PA, Augusta, for
appellant Arno A. Bittues
Maeghan Maloney, District Attorney, David M. Spencer, Asst.
Dist. Atty., and Frayla Tarpinian, Asst. Dist. Atty.
(orally), Kennebec County District Attorney's Office,
Augusta, for appellee State of Maine
SAUFLEY, C.J., and ALEXANDER, MEAD, GORMAN, JABAR, HJELM
Arno A. Bittues appeals from a judgment of conviction of
operating under the influence (OUI) (Class D), in violation
of 29-A M.R.S. § 2411(1-A)(A) (2018), entered by the
court (Kennebec County, Delahanty, J.) after a bench
trial. We affirm the judgment.
The following facts are drawn from the court's oral
findings and from the trial record, viewed in the light most
favorable to the State. See State v. Woodard, 2013
ME 36, ¶ 19, 68 A.3d 1250.
Approximately ten minutes before midnight on February 3,
2018, a trooper from the Maine State Police responded to a
phone call from a residence in Wayne reporting moaning and
yelling coming from outside. The trooper drove to the
driveway at the address and observed a minivan with its front
driver's side tire stuck in the snowbank on the left side
of the long driveway. The driveway was plowed; however, there
was some residual snow on its surface and about two and a
half feet of snow on either side of the driveway. After
confirming that there was no one in the minivan, the trooper
continued to drive towards the home.
As he approached the house, the trooper observed one male
standing close to the home, then heard moaning, looked to his
left and saw another man, later identified as Bittues,
kneeling face down in the snow about fifteen or twenty feet
off the left side of the driveway. The trooper left his
vehicle, walked over to Bittues, and observed a single set of
footprints leading from the driver's side of the minivan
running parallel to the driveway to the place where Bittues
was kneeling. The trooper detected a strong odor of alcohol
on Bittues's breath and noticed that his eyes were glassy
After a second trooper arrived and helped the first trooper
assist Bittues to walk from the snow to the driveway, Bittues
told the troopers that he believed that he was in a parking
lot outside a bar in another town-Winthrop. Bittues also
confirmed that the minivan was his and that he was the only
person who drives the vehicle, but he would neither confirm
nor deny that he had driven that night. The first trooper
attempted to administer a field sobriety test-the horizontal
gaze nystagmus test; however, Bittues was unable to follow
the trooper's directions for performing the test. The
trooper transported Bittues to the Winthrop Police
Department, where he administered an intoxilyzer test.
Bittues had a blood-alcohol content of .25 grams of alcohol
per 210 liters of breath. Meanwhile, the second trooper
remained at the scene to wait for a tow truck and take
photographs of the car and footprints.
Bittues was charged with OUI, in violation of 29-A M.R.S.
§ 2411(1-A)(A). At the bench trial, Bittues conceded
that he was under the influence of intoxicants and contested
only the allegation that he had operated a motor vehicle. The
court found, based on the photographs and the troopers'
testimony, that Bittues had operated the minivan while under
the influence and sentenced him to ninety-six hours in
jail-to be satisfied by the two-day alternative sentencing
program-and imposed a $500 fine and a 150-day license
suspension. Bittues timely appealed. M.R. App. P. 2B(b)(1).
On appeal, Bittues argues that there was insufficient
evidence for the court to have found, beyond a reasonable
doubt, that he operated a motor vehicle while under the
influence. When a criminal defendant claims on appeal that
the evidence was insufficient to support his conviction,
"we view the evidence in the light most favorable to the
State to determine whether the fact-finder could rationally
find every element of the offense beyond a reasonable
doubt." Woodard,2013 ME 36, ¶ 19, 68 A.3d
1250. When the court makes specific factual findings in
reaching its verdict, "we review those findings ...