State v. Wilson

Decision Date28 October 1999
Docket NumberNo. 21707.,21707.
Citation987 P.2d 268,92 Haw. 45
PartiesSTATE of Hawai`i, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. Edward Bailey WILSON, Jr., Defendant-Appellee.
CourtHawaii Supreme Court

Georgia McMillen, Deputy Prosecuting Attorney, for plaintiff-appellant.

Richard L. Rost (James W. Geiger with him, on the brief), Wailuku, for defendant-appellee.


Opinion of the Court by KLEIN, J.

This appeal arises from the criminal prosecution of defendant-appellee Edward Bailey Wilson, Jr. (Wilson) for, inter alia, driving under the influence of intoxicating liquor (DUI). Plaintiff-appellant State of Hawai`i (the prosecution) appeals from the June 25, 1998 order of the district court of the second circuit granting Wilson's motion to suppress the results of the blood alcohol test taken after his arrest on November 10, 1997. On appeal, the prosecution argues that the district court erred in suppressing the blood test results because: (1) sanctions under the administrative driver's license revocation law do not apply in criminal DUI proceedings; and (2) Wilson validly consented to a blood alcohol test insofar as the arresting officer's statement expressly warned Wilson of the possibility of criminal prosecution.

Because the information conveyed to Wilson regarding his rights under Hawai`i Revised Statutes (HRS) chapter 286 was inaccurate and misleading, we hold that Wilson was precluded from making a knowing and intelligent decision whether or not to submit to the evidentiary blood alcohol test, in violation of HRS chapter 286. Accordingly, we affirm the district court's order granting Wilson's motion to suppress the blood test results in his criminal DUI prosecution.


On December 5, 1997, Wilson was charged by criminal complaint with one count of DUI, in violation of HRS § 291-4 (1993).1 The complaint also charged Wilson with one count of disregarding longitudinal traffic markings, in violation of HRS § 291C-38 (1993).

On March 13, 1998, Wilson filed a motion to suppress the results of the blood test that he took after his arrest on November 10, 1997. On May 29, 1998, the district court heard the motion. Wilson, through his attorney, stated that "for the purposes of the facts of this case, [the prosecution] and I are going to stipulate that we believe the arresting officer in this case read the sanctions under [HRS] chapter 286 as stated in the form that they use." That "form," the "sworn statement of arresting officer," issued by the state Administrative Driver's License Revocation Office (ADLRO), reads in relevant part:2 Pursuant to the Administrative Driver License Revocation Law, I must inform you (arrestee) of the following:

a. That you may take either a blood test or breath test or both;
b. That if you refuse to take any tests the consequences are as follows: (1) if your driving record shows no prior alcohol enforcement contacts during the five years preceeding [sic] the date of arrest, your driving privileges will be revoked for one year instead of the three month revocation that would apply if you chose to take the test and failed it [; and]
c. That criminal charges under Sec. 291-4 HRS, may be filed[.]

(Emphasis added.)

In his motion, Wilson objected to the representation in the arresting officer's statement that a person who consented to the blood test and failed it would have his or her driving privileges revoked for only three months. Citing our decision in Gray v. Administrative Director of the Court, 84 Hawai`i 138, 931 P.2d 580 (1997), Wilson pointed out that, as someone who consented to the test and failed it, he in fact faced the possibility of revocation of his driving privileges under HRS § 286-261(b) (Supp.1998)3 anywhere from three months to one year.4 Therefore, insofar as the arresting officer misstated the legal consequences of consent, Wilson argued that "[his] consent was not freely given and his constitutional rights to due process of law have been violated. The taking of his blood constitutes an unlawful search and the results of the test must be suppressed."

At the hearing, the district court granted Wilson's motion. The hearing transcript reads in relevant part:

THE COURT: ... [W]hat we're talking about here is the matter of the possibility that he could take the test, fail it, and still get a year, which is a possibility under the law. Am I correct there, [defense counsel]?
[DEFENSE COUNSEL]: Yes, Your Honor. That's what Gray says.
THE COURT: All right. That being the case, I don't think he was properly advised. I'm going to grant the motion.

The court's order, filed on June 25, 1998, states in relevant part:

1. Defendant was erroneously advised of the sanctions under Part XIV (H.R.S., Chapter 286-251 et. seq.) by the arresting officer.
2. Defendant's consent for a test of his blood was therefore not obtained.
3. The blood test result of Defendant's blood is hereby suppressed for use as evidence in this case.

The prosecution timely appealed.


We review a circuit court's findings of fact in a pretrial ruling according to the following standard:

Appellate review of factual determinations made by the trial court deciding pretrial motions in a criminal case is governed by the clearly erroneous standard. A finding of fact is clearly erroneous when (1) the record lacks substantial evidence to support the finding, or (2) despite substantial evidence in support of the finding, the appellate court is nonetheless left with a definite and firm conviction that a mistake has been made.

State v. Okumura, 78 Hawai`i 383, 392, 894 P.2d 80, 89 (1995) (citations and internal quotation marks omitted). "The circuit court's conclusions of law are reviewed under the right/wrong standard." State v. Pattioay, 78 Hawai`i 455, 459, 896 P.2d 911, 915 (1995) (citation omitted). Furthermore,

in a case such as the one at bar, the proponent of a motion to suppress has the burden of establishing not only that the evidence sought to be excluded was unlawfully secured, but also, that his [or her] own Fourth Amendment rights were violated by the search and seizure sought to be challenged.

State v. Abordo, 61 Haw. 117, 120-21, 596 P.2d 773, 775 (1979) (citation and footnote omitted). The proponent of the motion to suppress must satisfy this "burden of proof by a preponderance of the evidence[.]" Pattioay, 78 Hawai`i at 466, 896 P.2d at 922 (citation omitted).

State v. Anderson, 84 Hawai`i 462, 466-67, 935 P.2d 1007, 1011-1012 (1997) (emphases omitted).


A. Because The Arresting Officer Inadequately Advised Wilson of the Applicable Administrative Penalties Under HRS chapter 286, Wilson Did Not Knowingly and Intelligently Consent to a Blood Test, in Violation of HRS chapter 286.

The prosecution argues that the district court erred in suppressing Wilson's blood alcohol test results because (1) sanctions under ADLRO do not apply in criminal DUI proceedings; and (2) Wilson voluntarily and intelligently consented to the blood test insofar as the arresting officer's statement warned Wilson of the possibility of criminal prosecution. With respect to both contentions, we disagree.

Under HRS § 286-151(a) (Supp. 1998),5

[a]ny person who operates a motor vehicle... on the public highways of the State shall be deemed to have given consent, subject to this part, to a test or tests ... of the person's breath, blood, or urine for the purpose of determining alcohol concentration or drug content of the person's breath, blood, or urine[.]"

(Citation omitted.) Under this "implied consent" scheme, when a person is arrested for violation of HRS § 291-4, the arresting officer must, inter alia, "take possession of any license held by the person and request the arrestee to take a test for concentration of alcohol in the blood." HRS § 286-255(a) (Supp.1998).6 Upon informing the arrestee of his or her choice of taking a breath test, blood test, or both, "[t]he arresting officer shall also inform the person of the sanctions under this part, including the sanction for refusing to take a breath or a blood test." See id. (emphasis added). HRS § 286-151 likewise requires that "the test or tests shall be administered ... only after ... [t]he person has been informed by a police officer of the sanctions under part XIV and sections 286-151.5 and 286-157.3." (Emphasis added.) Thus, as the statutory language makes clear, a driver's "implied consent" to an evidentiary chemical alcohol test is qualified by his or her implied right to refuse such a test after being accurately informed of his or her statutory right to consent or refuse, as well as the consequences of such consent or refusal.

HRS § 286-261(b) specifies the applicable periods of time an arrestee's license may be administratively revoked upon the arrestee's consent to a blood alcohol test. See supra note 4. In Gray, supra, we held that HRS § 286-261(b) grants the ADLRO the discretion to increase the minimum periods of administrative revocation for "non-refusing" arrestees. Id. at 160, 931 P.2d at 602. This discretionary authority under HRS § 286-262(b) is "capped" by the mandatory periods of revocation for "refusing" arrestees under HRS § 286-261(c). Id. at 160-61, 931 P.2d at 602-03. Thus, if an arrestee with no prior alcohol enforcement contacts during the five years predating the date of arrest consents to a blood test and fails, he or she may face revocation of his or her driving privileges from three months up to one year. See HRS §§ 286-261(b)(1) and (c).

Among other things, our implied consent statute is intended to provide an efficient means of gathering evidence of intoxication. See Rossell v. City and County of Honolulu, 59 Haw. 173, 181, 579 P.2d 663, 669 (1978)

. The statutory scheme, however, also protects the rights of the driver in that he or she may withdraw his or her consent before a test is administered. To this end, Hawai`i's implied consent scheme mandates accurate...

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