238 S.W.3d 177 (Mo.App. W.D. 2007), WD 66416, Furne v. Director of Revenue

Docket NºWD 66416.
Citation238 S.W.3d 177
Party NameRodney FURNE, Respondent, v. DIRECTOR OF REVENUE, State of Missouri, Appellant.
Case DateAugust 28, 2007
CourtCourt of Appeals of Missouri

Page 177

238 S.W.3d 177 (Mo.App. W.D. 2007)

Rodney FURNE, Respondent,

v.

DIRECTOR OF REVENUE, State of Missouri, Appellant.

No. WD 66416.

Court of Appeals of Missouri, Western District.

August 28, 2007

Motion for Rehearing and/or Transfer to Supreme Court Denied Oct. 30, 2007.

Application for Transfer Denied Dec. 18, 2007.

Appeal From: Circuit Court of Clay County, Hon. Donald T. Norris

Page 178

Heidi C. Doerhoff, Assistant Attorney General, Jefferson City, MO, for appellant.

Frank C. Devries, Kansas City, MO, for respondent.

Before JAMES M. SMART, Presiding Judge, JOSEPH M. ELLIS, Judge and EDWIN H. SMITH, Judge.

Joseph M. Ellis, Judge

The Director of Revenue for the State of Missouri appeals from a judgment entered in the Circuit Court of Clay County setting aside the Director's revocation of Rodney Furne's driving privileges for refusing to submit to a chemical test of his blood alcohol level. The court found that the Director failed to sufficiently establish that the arresting officer had reasonable grounds to believe that Furne was driving a motor vehicle while intoxicated. For the following reasons, we affirm the trial court's judgment.

At 9:16 p.m. on June 16, 2005, Trooper Ronald Meade of the Missouri Highway Patrol stopped Furne in his vehicle along Route JJ north of Missouri City, Missouri. Eventually, Trooper Meade placed Furne under arrest for driving while intoxicated and requested that he take a chemical test of his blood alcohol level. After Furne refused to submit to such a test, Trooper Meade asked Furne to surrender his drivers' license and issued Furne a notice of revocation of his driving privilege by the Department of Revenue. Furne sought review of that revocation in the Circuit Court of Clay County. Following an evidentiary hearing, the Circuit Court found that the Director had failed to demonstrate that Trooper Meade had reasonable cause to believe that Furne had been driving while intoxicated and, on that basis, ordered the Director to reinstate Furne's driving privileges. The Director brings one point on appeal.

"Section 577.041.3 mandates that the Director revoke, for one year, the driver's license of a person under arrest for DWI for refusing, when requested by the arresting officer, to submit to a chemical

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test, authorized by Section 577.020." Flaiz v. Director of Revenue, 182 S.W.3d 244, 248 (Mo.App. W.D. 2005). "If a person's license has been revoked because of the person's refusal to submit to a chemical test, such person may petition for a hearing before a circuit or associate circuit court in the county in which the arrest or stop occurred." Section 577.041.4. At such a hearing, the Director bears the burden of proving (1) that the person was arrested, (2) that the officer had reasonable grounds to believe the individual was driving while intoxicated, and (3) that the person refused to submit to the chemical test. Engelage v. Director of Revenue, 197 S.W.3d 197, 201 (Mo.App. W.D. 2006). If the circuit court determines that one or more of these elements have not been proven, the court is required to order the Director to reinstate the individual's driving privileges. Storck v. Director of Revenue, 59 S.W.3d 545, 548 (Mo.App. E.D. 2001).

In the case at bar, Furne conceded that he had been arrested and that he had refused to submit to a chemical test when requested by Trooper Meade. Thus, the only issue tried by the parties was whether Trooper Meade had reasonable grounds to believe that Furne had been driving while intoxicated. After hearing the evidence, the trial court issued its judgment expressly finding that Furne's evidence was more credible than that presented by the Director and that the Director had failed to meet its burden of proving that the officer had reasonable grounds to believe...

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