State, Department of Highways v. Normandin, 41495

Decision Date20 June 1969
Docket NumberNo. 41495,41495
Citation284 Minn. 24,169 N.W.2d 222
PartiesSTATE of Minnesota, DEPARTMENT OF HIGHWAYS, Appellant, v. Roger Lawrence NORMANDIN, Respondent.
CourtMinnesota Supreme Court

Syllabus by the Court

1. An order of the Municipal Court of Hennepin County rescinding an order of the commissioner of highways revoking a driver's license for refusal to permit chemical tests for intoxication is subject to review by the Supreme Court upon appeal by the state.

2. The intoxication of a person who refuses to submit to a chemical test for the purpose of determining the alcoholic content of his blood is not a valid defense Douglas M. Head, Atty. Gen., Norman R. Carpenter, Deputy Atty. Gen., Charles R. Hall, John R. Murphy, Special Asst. Atty. Gen., St. Paul, for appellant.

in license revocation proceedings instituted pursuant to Minn.St. 169.123.

Beugen & Winick, Minneapolis, for respondent.


SHERAN, Justice.

Appeal from an order of the Hennepin County Municipal Court rescinding an order of the commissioner of highways which directed revocation of defendant's driver's license.

On November 13, 1967, defendant, Roger Lawrence Normandin, was arrested by Sgt. Robert Anderson of the Hopkins Police Department under circumstances in which the police officer had reasonable and probable grounds to believe that Normandin was operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of an alcoholic beverage. Normandin refused the police officer's request that he submit to a chemical test of his blood or urine for the purpose of determining alcoholic content. Revocation proceedings were instituted by the commissioner of highways pursuant to Minn.St. 169.123, subd. 5. After a hearing before the Municipal Court of Hennepin County pursuant to § 169.123, subd. 6, that court ordered that the revocation be rescinded and the state appeals.

State's Right to Appeal

1. The first issue to be decided by us is whether the state can appeal from an adverse determination in the municipal court in a proceeding pursuant to § 169.123. We hold that it can.

Under § 169.123, subd. 7, a right of appeal from municipal court to the district court is given the licensee. No comparable provision is made for appeal by the state. 1 However, the state has a right of appeal under other statutory provisions.

Minn.St. 488A.01(11) provides:

'All causes civil and criminal shall be removed from the municipal court to the supreme court of the state of Minnesota in the same manner, upon like proceedings and with like effect as from district courts.' 2

Minn.St. 605.01 provides:

'A judgment or order of the district court in a civil action may be reviewed by the supreme court by appeal of a party as provided in this chapter.'

Rule 103.03, Rules of Civil Appellate Procedure, provides in part:

'An appeal may be taken to the Supreme Court:

(d) From an order involving the merits of the action or some part thereof;

(h) Except as otherwise provided by statute; from the final order or judgment affecting a substantial right made in a special proceeding * * *.'

These provisions are adequate to give the state a right to appeal in this case.

The license revocation proceeding is not a criminal matter. It is 'an opportunity afforded the petitioner, by law, to be heard on the question of whether or not he was entitled to a continuation of the privilege of operating a motor vehicle upon the public highway.' Matter of Combes v. Kelly, 2 Misc.2d 491, 495, 152 N.Y.S.2d 934, 938. Such a proceeding is civil in nature. August v. Department of Motor Vehicles, Cal.App., 70 Cal.Rptr. 172; Prucha v. Department of Motor Vehicles, 172 Neb. 415, 110 N.W.2d 75, 88 A.L.R.2d 1055. Cf. State ex rel. Vanouse v. Henry, 278 Minn. 344, 154 N.W.2d 503. Suspension or revocation of a license is not a punishment but is rather an exercise of the police power for the protection of the public. Anderson v. Commissioner of Highways, 267 Minn. 308, 126 N.W.2d 778, 3 A.L.R.3d 746. The language of § 169.123, subd. 6, stating that '(t)he hearing shall * * * proceed as in a criminal matter' merely directs that the court in the trial of this kind of a civil proceeding should follow the procedures used in criminal cases. If the proceeding were criminal in essence, there would be no necessity for this language.

Effect of Intoxication

2. The second issue for decision is whether defendant was incapable of refusing to submit to chemical tests because of his extreme intoxication. We hold that he was not.

The legislature never intended the 'implied consent' statute to excuse one so intoxicated as to be incapable of refusing to submit to chemical tests. This construction would lead to an absurd result--the greater the degree of intoxication of an automobile driver, the less the degree of his accountability under § 169.123.

In State v. Welch, 21 Minn. 22, 28, this court said, 'A drunken man, equally with a sober man, is presumed to know and intend the acts which he does * * *.'

The implied-consent statute does not set out any specific intent requirement. It simply provides:

'If a person under arrest refuses to permit chemical testing, none shall be given, but the commissioner of...

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34 cases
  • State v. Page
    • United States
    • Louisiana Supreme Court
    • May 17, 1976
    ...See Commonwealth, Department of Transportation, etc. v. James, 6 Pa.Cmwlth. 493, 296 A.2d 530 (1972); State, Department of Highways v. Normandin, 284 Minn. 24, 169 N.W.2d 222 (1969); Ziemba v. Johns, 183 Neb. 644, 163 N.W.2d 780 (1968); Bolio v. Malloy, 126 Vt. 424, 234 A.2d 336 (1967); Has......
  • People v. Carlyle, 83-1124
    • United States
    • United States Appellate Court of Illinois
    • January 23, 1985
    ...Division (La.App.1973), 286 So.2d 723; see also Matter of Schuttler (S.D.1978), 262 N.W.2d 61; State of Minnesota, Department of Highways v. Normandin (1969), 284 Minn. 24, 169 N.W.2d 222. In Illinois, no reviewing court has been presented with the precise factual question before us here, i......
  • Davis v. Commissioner of Public Safety
    • United States
    • Minnesota Court of Appeals
    • November 30, 1993
    ...The implied consent revocation proceeding has often been held to be civil in nature. See, e.g., State, Dep't of Highways v. Normandin, 284 Minn. 24, 26, 169 N.W.2d 222, 224 (1969); Szczech, 343 N.W.2d at 306. The supreme court has recognized that the request of chemical testing is a "critic......
  • Rossell v. City and County of Honolulu, 6160
    • United States
    • Hawaii Supreme Court
    • May 10, 1978
    ...85, 88 (1969) (in banc); Bush v. Bright, supra, 264 Cal.App.2d at 793, 71 Cal.Rptr. at 126; accord, State Dept. of Highways v. Normandin, 284 Minn. 24, 27-28, 169 N.W.2d 222, 224 (1969); accord, Perryman v. State, 242 So.2d 762, 763 (Fla.App.1971).14 Of course, there is nothing to prevent t......
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