Ent v. State, Dept. of Motor Vehicles

Decision Date24 September 1968
Citation71 Cal.Rptr. 726,265 Cal.App.2d 936
CourtCalifornia Court of Appeals Court of Appeals
PartiesElizabeth ENT, Plaintiff and Respondent, v. STATE of California, DEPARTMENT OF MOTOR VEHICLES, Defendant and Appellant. Civ. 25255.

Elizabeth Ent, San Jose, in pro. per.

Thomas C. Lynch, Atty. Gen. of California, Victor D. Sonenberg, Deputy Atty. Gen., San Francisco, for appellant.

AGEE, Associate Justice.

The Department of Motor Vehicles ('Department') appeals from the judgment of the superior court granting a writ of mandate which ordered the Department to set aside its decision suspending the driving privileges of plaintiff (respondent) for a period of six months. Respondent is a practicing attorney and represents herself on this appeal.

These proceedings were initiated upon the Department's receipt of the sworn statement of Police Officer Nofziger that, having reasonable cause to do so, he had arrested respondent in Burlingame on January 29, 1967, at 12:27 a.m., for driving while under the influence of intoxicating liquor (Veh.Code § 23102) and that she had refused his request to submit to a chemical test of her blood, breath or unine to determine the alcoholic content of her blood, as required by Vehicle Code section 13353.

This section applies to any lawfully arrested person who a peace officer has reasonable cause to believe is driving a motor vehicle upon a highway while under the influence of intoxicating liquor. It provides that such person shall be deemed to have given his consent to a chemical test of his blood, breath or urine and that he may choose which type of test shall be given. The section further provides that the person shall be told that his failure to submit to such a chemical test will result in the suspension of his privilege to operate a motor vehicle for a period of six months.

Respondent makes no contention that the procedure prescribed by section 13353 was not followed by the arresting officer.

After the Department had suspended respondent's operator's license, she demanded a formal hearing as provided for by section 13353, subdivision (c). (See Veh.Code § 14107 et seq.) This hearing resulted in affirmance of the original order of suspension. Respondent then filed a petition in the superior court for a writ of mandate, which was granted, as stated above.

The sworn statement of the arresting officer, which was made a part of the record without objection, states that: 'The defendant (respondent) was read the above statement 1 and when questioned as to which chemical test she would take, her reply was, 'I refuse to take any test without my attorney present.'"""

Respondent makes no contention that Officer Nofziger did not have reasonable cause to believe that she had been driving while under the influence of intoxicating liquor. The counsel who represented her at the hearing stated, with respect to the officer's reasons for such belief, as set forth in his sworn statement: 'We do not at this time propose to make an issue as to their truth or falsity.'

In any event, there is no evidence in the record to refute the officer's description of respondent's erratic driving, alcoholic breath, and staggering after getting out of her car.

Respondent testified at the hearing that, when asked by the arresting officer to take the test, she replied that she 'desired Counsel with me' and that that was the only condition imposed by her. This condition was never withdrawn and no test was ever taken.

Respondent makes no criticism of the findings of fact or conclusions of law made by the superior court. These include the following finding: 'At the time of said arrest, said (arresting) officer requested petitioner (respondent) to submit to a chemical test of her blood, breath or urine to determine her blood alcohol content, * * * The petitioner did not refuse to take the test but, in essence, asked only that the taking thereof be delayed until her attorney was present.'

In its conclusions of law, the trial court stated that the respondent's reply to the officer's request 'amounted only to a request to delay the taking of such test until she could consult with counsel and did not constitute a refusal under California Vehicle Code section 13353 to take a chemical test to determine the alcoholic content of her blood.' We do not agree.

In Finley v. Orr (June, 1968) 262 A.C.A. 711, 69 Cal.Rptr. 137 (hearing denied by the Supreme Court), the licensee contended that 'he was denied his right to have counsel present when he was called upon, while in the custody of the police, to decide whether he would submit, or refuse to submit, to one of the tests.' (p. 718, 69 Cal.Rptr. p. 141.)

Finley testified at the formal hearing that when he was asked by the police officers, at the time of his arrest, to take a breathalyzer test, he said 'he would take it if they would get his attorney' and that the second time they asked him to take the test, he said he 'would take it if his attorney was there, or if they would 'call a doctor. " (Fn. 1.)

Finley asserted that he thus 'conditionally consented' and that this was a sufficient compliance with the statute.

The court pointed out that in People v. Sudduth (1966) 65 Cal.2d 543, 546, 55 Cal.Rptr 393, 395, 421 P.2d 401, 403, it was held that 'Suspects have no constitutional right to refuse a test designed to produce physical evidence in the form of a breath sample (citations) Whether or not counsel is present (citation).' (Emphasis added.)

The court in Finley then continued: 'In civil proceedings concerning the suspension of a person's driving privilege, it has been held, in other states which have implied consent laws similar to section 13353 of the California Vehicle Code, that such person does not have a right to counsel when he is requested to submit to a required test. (Citations.) * * * There is no merit to appellant's contention regarding the absence of counsel when he was called upon to decide whether to take the test.' (Emphasis added.)

The effect of a 'qualified consent' was discussed in Fallis v. Dept. of Motor Vehicles (July, 1968) 264 A.C.A. 441, 70 Cal.Rptr. 595. There it was held: 'A licensee may not qualify his consent to submit to a test (under § 13353) by a condition that the test be administered by or in the presence of his own physician. Such a Qualified consent is in fact a Refusal to take the test provided by the statute.' (Emphasis added.)

The court added: 'Neither the denial of the opportunity for advice of counsel before stating whether one will submit to a test and before Deciding which test to take, nor the denial of the opportunity to have counsel present while the test is administered, is the denial of any constitutional right.' (Citing Schmerber v. State of California, 384 U.S. 757, 766, 86 S.Ct. 1826, 16 L.Ed.2d 908; emphasis added.)

The foregoing language would seem determinative of respondent's contention that she needed and was entitled to the advice of counsel in Choosing which of the three tests to take. Also, the language in the case next cited below contemplates a plurality of tests when referring to the 'variables in techniques.'

In United States v. Wade (1967) 388 U.S. 218, 227--228, 87 S.Ct. 1926, 1932, 18 L.Ed.2d 1149, the United States Supreme Court stated: '* * * systematized or scientific analyzing of the accused's fingerprints, Blood sample, clothing, hair, and the like * * * (involve) differences which preclude such stages being characterized as critical stages at which the accused has the right to the presence of his counsel. Knowledge of the techniques of science and technology is sufficiently available, and the variables in techniques few enough, that the accused has the opportunity for a meaningful confrontation of the Government's case at trial through the ordinary processes of cross-examination of the Government's expert witnesses and the presentation of the evidence of his own experts. The denial of a right to have his counsel present at such analyses does not therefore violate the Sixth Amendment; they are not critical stages since there is minimal risk that his counsel's absence at such stages might derogate from his right to a fair trial.' (Emphasis added; see also Gilbert v. State of California (1967) 388 U.S. 263, 267, 87 S.Ct. 1951, 18 L.Ed.2d 1178.)

In People v. Bellah (1965) 237 Cal.App.2d 122, 127, 46 Cal.Rptr. 598, 601, decided before the enactment of section 13353, the court said that a suspect, in deciding whether to take a field sobriety test, 'was scarcely in need of legal advice in reaching that decision.'

With respect to the delay in taking the test which would result from compliance with the condition imposed by respondent, the Department cites the well-established rule that the probative value of a chemical test for intoxication diminishes with the passage of time. (In re Martin (1962) 58 Cal.2d 509, 512, 24 Cal.Rptr. 833, 374 P.2d 801; People v. Huber (1965) 232 Cal.App.2d 663, 671, 43 Cal.Rptr. 65.)

Respondent argues that the condition imposed by her caused only a one hour delay; that she did not cause any of the other delays; that she should have been allowed to telephone to her attorney immediately upon her arrival at the police station in Burlingame that she was not allowed to telephone until the matron arrived at the station, which was about 2:00 a.m.; that she, the matron, and two officers then started for Redwood City but had an...

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  • People v. Lucas
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (California)
    • August 21, 2014
    ...his counsel's absence at such stages might derogate from his right to a fair trial.’ " ( Ent v. Department of Motor Vehicles (1968) 265 Cal.App.2d 936, 939–940, 71 Cal.Rptr. 726, quoting United States v. Wade (1967) 388 U.S. 218, 227–228, 87 S.Ct. 1926, 18 L.Ed.2d 1149 ; see People v. Coope......
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    ...181 N.E.2d 427 (1962); Blow v. Commissioner of Motor Vehicles, 164 N.W.2d 351 (S.Ct.S.D., 1969). In Ent v. State, Department of Motor Vehicles, 265 Cal.App.2d 936, 71 Cal.Rptr. 726 (1968) the court held that imposing condition that attorney be present before, consent will be given for a che......
  • People v. Lucas
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    ...that his counsel's absence at such stages might derogate from his right to a fair trial.’ ” (Ent v. Department of Motor Vehicles (1968) 265 Cal.App.2d 936, 939–940, 71 Cal.Rptr. 726, quoting United States v. Wade (1967) 388 U.S. 218, 227–228, 87 S.Ct. 1926, 18 L.Ed.2d 1149; see People v. Co......
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    ...that his counsel's absence at such stages might derogate from his right to a fair trial.’ ” (Ent v. Department of Motor Vehicles (1968) 265 Cal.App.2d 936, 939–940, 71 Cal.Rptr. 726, quoting United States v. Wade (1967) 388 U.S. 218, 227–228, 87 S.Ct. 1926, 18 L.Ed.2d 1149; see People v. Co......
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    ...before determining whether to submit to chemical testing, or selecting which test to take. Ent v. Department of Motor Vehicles (1968) 265 Cal.App.2d 936, citing United States v. Wade (1967) 388 U.S. 218, 227-228 (no right to counsel during “scientific analyzing of the accused’s fingerprints......
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