State v. Yudichak, 85-006

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Vermont
Citation519 A.2d 1150,147 Vt. 418
Decision Date31 October 1986
Docket NumberNo. 85-006,85-006
PartiesSTATE of Vermont v. Allen F. YUDICHAK.

Timothy W. Shanley, Washington County Deputy State's Atty., Barre, for plaintiff-appellant.

Robert J. Kurrle and Robert Halpert, Montpelier, for defendant-appellee.

Before ALLEN, C.J., and HILL, PECK, GIBSON and HAYES, JJ.

PER CURIAM.

This is an interlocutory appeal by the State from an order of the district court granting defendant's motion to suppress the results of a blood alcohol test. The certified question presented for our determination is as follows: "Does the fact that a Vermont State Police Officer requested a blood sample [instead of] a breath sample from the surviving operator in a fatal collision require suppression of the results of that blood sample in a subsequent DWI prosecution?" We answer this question in the affirmative.

This case arose from a motor vehicle accident in which defendant, a Norwich University student, was driving the University's fire truck. The fire truck rolled over once, severing a utility pole. Three cadets died. Five others were treated for injuries.

Following the accident, defendant was taken to the hospital. A Northfield police officer radioed a Vermont state trooper for assistance in obtaining a blood sample from defendant as the surviving operator of a fatal accident, pursuant to 23 V.S.A. § 1203(d). Officer Davison of the Vermont State Police interviewed defendant at the hospital, read the standard DUI processing form to defendant, and requested a blood sample. Defendant cooperated fully. He acknowledged that he understood his rights, waived his right to counsel, and agreed to give a sample of his blood for testing. Analysis of the blood sample revealed a blood alcohol content of .14.

Defendant argues that the requirements of 23 V.S.A. § 1202(a) apply to testing performed under 23 V.S.A. § 1203(d). We agree.

23 V.S.A. § 1202(a) provides, in part:

Any person who operates, attempts to operate or is in actual physical control of any vehicle on a highway in this state is deemed to have given his consent to the taking of more than one sample of his breath for the purpose of determining the alcoholic content of his blood. If breath testing equipment is not reasonably available or if the person is unable to give a sufficient sample of his breath for testing or if a state police officer ... has reasonable grounds to believe that the person is under the influence of a drug other than or in addition to alcohol, he is deemed to have given his consent to the taking of a sample of his blood for those purposes.

In this language, the legislature has expressed its preference for breath testing over blood testing. In discussing 23 V.S.A. § 1202(a), this Court has stated:

The Legislature in the first instance prescribed that a breath test be given. It is only when breath testing equipment is not reasonably available or the person is unable to give a sufficient sample of his breath that he is deemed to have given his consent to the taking of a sample of his blood.

Miner v. District Court, 136 Vt. 426, 430, 392 A.2d 390, 392-93 (1978).

23 V.S.A. § 1203(d) provides that "[a] sample of breath or blood shall be obtained if feasible from any surviving operator whose vehicle is involved in a fatal accident." The State argues that § 1203(d) should serve as the only guidance in this appeal. We disagree.

The State distinguishes 23 V.S.A. § 1203(d) from the remainder of the statutory scheme because all other sections require law enforcement officers to have reasonable grounds to believe the operator to be under the influence prior to requesting either a breath or blood sample. We agree that 23 V.S.A. § 1203(d) is unique. It alone concerns the testing of a surviving operator whose vehicle is involved in a fatal accident. It is distinctive in that the condition precedent to testing under § 1203(d) is the occurrence of a fatality. Under the remaining sections in chapter 13 of Title 23, the condition precedent to testing is reasonable grounds to believe that a person is operating under the influence. This fact alone, however, does not make § 1203(d) so different that it stands by itself, without relation to the other parts of the statutory scheme.

In interpreting statutes, our primary objective is to give effect to the intent of the Legislature. State v. Lund, 144 Vt. 171, 175, 475 A.2d 1055, 1058 (1984). W...

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23 cases
  • State v. Madison
    • United States
    • Vermont Supreme Court
    • 1 Marzo 1995
    ...overall aim is to give effect to intent of legislature, we must look first to plain meaning of statute); State v. Yudichak, 147 Vt. 418, 420, 519 A.2d 1150, 1151 (1986) (in giving effect to intent of legislature, we presume that plain, ordinary meaning of statutory language is intended); se......
  • State v. Yudichak
    • United States
    • Vermont Supreme Court
    • 14 Abril 1989
    ...affirmed a ruling by the trial court suppressing the results of a blood-alcohol test to which defendant had submitted. State v. Yudichak, 147 Vt. 418, 519 A.2d 1150 (1986). Defendant now claims that certain advisory statements made on the record (but not before the jury) by the trial judge ......
  • State v. Gilman
    • United States
    • Vermont Supreme Court
    • 9 Noviembre 2001
    ...where the violation of the statutory procedures involves rights other than the right to counsel. See State v. Yudichak, 147 Vt. 418, 421, 519 A.2d 1150, 1152 (1986) (administering blood test, without offering to give a breath test as required by the statute, necessitates suppression of test......
  • State v. Bean
    • United States
    • Vermont Supreme Court
    • 31 Marzo 1995
    ...3 is designed to codify and enhance protections given by Fourth Amendment, remedy for violation is suppression); State v. Yudichak, 147 Vt. 418, 421, 519 A.2d 1150, 1152 (1986) (in DUI processing, giving of blood test, without offering breath test as required by statute, necessitates suppre......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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