Failure to meet the requirements of the Civil Implied-Consent statute does not affect the admissibility of blood-test results in a DWI Criminal proceeding
In State v. Flermoen, the Minnesota Court of Appeals held that the suppression of blood-test results is not mandated when the blood is withdrawn by a person who does not meet the requirements for doing so under the civil implied-consent law.
In this case, Flermoen was arrested for DWI and was transported to the Coon Rapids Police Department where she was read the implied-consent advisory. Flermoen agreed to submit a blood sample for chemical testing. Flermoen was subsequently transported to a nearby hospital where a hospital technician withdrew the blood sample.
Before trial, Flermoen moved to suppress the blood sample because the hospital technician did not meet the qualifications set forth in the civil implied-consent statute. The district court rescinded the revocation of Flermoen’s driving privileges because the technician did not meet the requirements under the civil implied-consent statute; however, the district court in the criminal proceeding denied Flermoen’s motion and Flermoen was later convicted of second-degree DWI.
Flermoen challenged the district court’s ruling on the grounds that under the language of the statute the civil implied-consent requirements are applicable to the admissibility of blood-test results in a criminal DWI proceeding.
In Flermoen, there was no question as to whether the hospital technician met the requirements of the civil implied-consent statute. It was stipulated that the hospital technician did not meet the requirements under the statute; however the primary issue was whether those requirements applied to the test results for the criminal proceeding.
The Court found that prior to 1984, the criminal DWI statute expressly stated that chemical testing must be done pursuant to the civil implied-consent statute. Although in 1984, the criminal DWI statute was amended and removed the language that blood be withdrawn pursuant to the civil implied-consent statute. Furthermore, the Court in Flermoen also found that Minnesota Courts have consistently held that compliance with the testing procedures of the civil implied-consent law is not a prerequisite for the admissibility of test results in a criminal DWI proceeding.
Flermoen argued that previous case law, State v. Shifflet, compels a conclusion that the blood-test results are inadmissible at the criminal proceeding. However, the Court found Shifflet to be distinguishable from this case as the police in Shifflet engaged in wrongdoing that impaired the defendant’s constitutional rights and Flermoen makes no argument that the police in this case engaged in any wrongdoing leading to a potential constitutional infringement.
Flermoen further argued that the requirements of the civil implied-consent statute applied to the DWI criminal proceeding due to the multiple references of the civil implied-consent statute in the statute providing for preliminary screening tests. The Court reasoned that Flermoen failed to take into account the DWI evidence statute. The DWI evidence statute that addresses the admissibility of blood-test results makes no reference to the professional-occupation requirements for withdrawing blood under the civil implied-consent statute. The Court further reasoned that if the legislature intended to change the criminal DWI rule of evidence it would have expressly done so by referencing the professional-occupation requirements for withdrawing blood.
The Court in Flermoen held that in a criminal DWI proceeding, suppression of the blood-test results establishing the driver’s blood alcohol concentration is not mandated when the blood is withdrawn by a person who does not meet the requirements for doing so under the civil implied-consent statute.