State v. Woolery

Decision Date09 June 1989
Docket NumberNo. 17224,17224
Citation775 P.2d 1210,116 Idaho 368
PartiesSTATE of Idaho, Plaintiff-Respondent, v. James Ralph WOOLERY, Defendant-Appellant.
CourtIdaho Supreme Court

Gunn & Hoff, Caldwell, for defendant-appellant. Renae Hoff, argued.

Jim Jones, Atty. Gen. and Myrna A.I. Stahman, Deputy Atty. Gen., for plaintiff-respondent. Myrna A.I. Stahman, argued.

HUNTLEY, Justice.

This case arises as the result of an automobile accident that occurred on January 31, 1987, at the intersection of Franklin Road and Star Road located in Canyon County, Idaho. At approximately 10:30 p.m., a pickup driven by Woolery ran a stop sign at a very high speed and crashed into an automobile driven by Christopher Price. Price's passenger, Carol Francis Price, was fatally injured in the accident and Christopher Price was seriously injured. Woolery was alone in his vehicle and received head and chest injuries. Woolery states that he appeared "shook up" immediately after the accident.

Woolery states that he had a heart condition for which he had taken medication immediately prior to the accident. He testified that he had no recall of the accident itself and that he went into shock upon arrival of the paramedics at the accident scene. Because Woolery was injured in the collision, he was transported to the Mercy Medical Center emergency room. According to the State, the emergency room doctor who treated Woolery was of the opinion that Woolery was intoxicated.

Officer Rowe, the deputy sheriff who arrived at the scene of the accident at approximately 10:35 p.m., followed the ambulance containing Woolery to Mercy Medical Center. Upon arrival, Officer Rowe told the doctor that he needed a blood test sample from Woolery, but he was forced to wait approximately ten minutes so the emergency room personnel could examine appellant. The test of Woolery's blood, which was drawn approximately one hour after the accident, revealed a .16 blood alcohol content. Woolery argues that the blood sample was taken by Officer Rowe without investigation of the accident scene, without speaking with the Prices, (since they were incommunicado), without asking one single question of Woolery regarding the accident and without informing Woolery of his statutory right of refusal or opportunity for independent testing. 1

Woolery moved to suppress the blood alcohol test results because he had not consented to the blood test. An amended motion to suppress was subsequently filed, adding as a basis for suppression the fact that the State did not request Woolery to submit to an evidentiary test. At hearing, the State stipulated that appellant was not provided with the advisory rights required by I.C. § 18-8002 when the blood was removed from him. Officer Rowe later testified that he was the officer requesting the blood alcohol content test, that he was present when it was taken and that the appellant was not under arrest when his blood was involuntarily drawn from him. The court took the issue under advisement and thereafter issued its Memorandum Decision and Order denying Woolery's motion to suppress. Woolery was convicted of all counts.

The issue on appeal is whether the trial court erred in admitting appellant's blood alcohol content test results either because the officer requesting such test did not have reasonable grounds to administer the test or because appellant was not informed of the rights accorded him pursuant to I.C. § 18-8002.

In Schmerber v. California, 384 U.S. 757, 86 S.Ct. 1826, 16 L.Ed.2d 908 (1966), the United States Supreme Court was presented with the issue of whether the results of a test showing the alcohol content of the blood of a driver were properly admitted into evidence where the driver refused to consent to the test after being involved in an automobile accident, and where the officer had ample justification for concluding that the driver was under the influence. The Schmerber court explained its resolution of the case as follows:

We begin with the assumption that once the privilege against self incrimination has been found not to bar compelled intrusions into the body for blood to be analyzed for alcohol content, the fourth amendment's proper function is to constrain, not against all intrusions as such, but against intrusions which are not justified in the circumstances, or which are made in an improper manner. In other words, the questions we must decide in this case are whether the police were justified in requiring petitioner to submit to the blood test, and whether the means and procedures employed in taking his blood respected relevant fourth amendment standards of reasonableness.

384 U.S. 757, 768, 86 S.Ct. 1826, 1834.

The taking of a blood alcohol content test is a seizure within the context of the fourth amendment to the United States Constitution. Schmerber v. California, 384 U.S. 757, 86 S.Ct. 1826, 16 L.Ed.2d 908 (1966); State v. Curtis, 106 Idaho 483, 680 P.2d 1383 (Ct.App.1984); State v. Turner, 94 Idaho 548, 494 P.2d 146 (1972). Any warrantless search or seizure of a citizen is presumptively unreasonable unless it falls within certain specific and well delineated exceptions. State v. Harwood, 94 Idaho 615, at 617-18, 495 P.2d 160 at 162 (1972); Coolidge v. New Hampshire, 403 U.S. 443, 91 S.Ct. 2022, 29 L.Ed.2d 564 (1971). When a warrantless search or seizure is challenged by defendant, the burden is on the prosecution to show that evidence seized falls within a recognized exception to the warrant requirement. Schmerber v. California, 384 U.S. 757, 86 S.Ct. 1826; State v. Harwick, 94 Idaho 615, 495 P.2d 160 (1972); State v. Curtis, 106 Idaho 483, 680 P.2d 1383 (Ct.App.1984). In the instant situation, the destruction of the evidence by metabolism of alcohol in the blood provides an inherent exigency which justifies the warrantless search. The relevant ques tions under Schmerber therefore are whether there was sufficient justification for ordering the test and whether the test was conducted in a reasonable manner.

Officer Rowe was justified in requiring Woolery to submit to the blood test and the means and procedures employed in taking his blood were reasonable. The circumstances of the accident, including Woolery's speeding and having failed to stop at the stop sign, together with the treating physician's opinion of intoxication, satisfy the required probable cause to request the test. There is no allegation that the procedure was unreasonably performed.

Any person who drives or is in actual physical control of a motor vehicle in this state is deemed to have given his consent to an evidentiary test for concentration of alcohol, drugs or other intoxicating substances as defined in I.C. § 18-8004, providing that such test is administered at the request of a police officer having reasonable grounds to believe that the person has been driving or in actual physical control of a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, drugs or of any other intoxicating substances. Idaho Code § 18-8002 (supra n. 1).

We now turn to Woolery's argument that the test results should have been excluded because the state did not request the test, Woolery did not consent to the test and Officer Rowe did not advise Woolery of his rights pursuant to I.C. § 18-8002. In order to provide blood alcohol content test guidelines for the courts and police of this state, the legislature enacted I.C. § 18-8002, which provides in pertinent part:

. . . . .

(3) At the time an evidentiary test for concentration of alcohol, drugs or other intoxicating substances is requested, the person shall be informed that if he refuses to take the test: (a) his license will be seized by the police office and a temporary permit will be issued; ... (b) he has the right to request a hearing within seven (7) days to show cause why he refused to take the test; (c) if he does not request a hearing or does not prevail at the hearing, his license will be suspended absolutely for one hundred eighty (180) days; (d) after submitting to the test he may, when practicable, at his own expense, have additional tests made by a person of his own choosing.

Idaho Code § 18-8002 (emphasis added). At the time an evidentiary test is requested, the person must be informed as provided in the statute. In the instant case, it is irrefutable that Woolery's blood alcohol content test was taken without notice or advisement of his right to refuse.

Prior to the enactment of I.C. § 18-8002, courts in Idaho had consistently ruled there was no general constitutional right to refuse to take a blood alcohol test. Woolery submits that the language contained in I.C. § 18-8002, being mandatory, required Office Rowe to inform him that he had a right to refuse the test along with the other mandated requirements.

The State submits that I.C. § 18-8002(3) does not create a statutory right to refuse to submit to an evidentiary test to determine the alcohol content of a driver's blood and that whether or not such statutory right has been created, failure to comply with the procedures set forth in I.C. § 18-8002(3) does not require suppression of constitutionally obtained evidence. Finally, the State argues that Idaho Code § 18-8002 does not apply to aggravated driving under the influence or vehicular homicide prosecutions.

As explained by the Wisconsin Supreme Court in State v. Zielke, 137 Wis.2d 39, 403 N.W.2d 427 (1987), "the implied consent law is an important weapon in the battle against drunk driving in this state. Neither the law, its history nor common sense allows this court to countenance its use as a shield by the defense to prevent constitutionally obtained evidence from being admitted at trial." 403 N.W.2d 427, 434.

The South Dakota Supreme Court ruling in State v. Buckingham, 90 S.D. 198, 240 N.W.2d 84 (1976), that noncompliance with the implied consent statutes rendered the blood sample and test results inadmissible in a driving while intoxicated manslaughter prosecution, was...

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    ...All drivers in Idaho impliedly consent to BAC and drug tests upon reasonable suspicion. I.C. § 18–8002(1) ; State v. Woolery, 116 Idaho 368, 371, 775 P.2d 1210, 1213 (1989). Permissible testing is simply defined as "a procedure or test or series of procedures or tests ... utilized to determ......
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