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State of Idaho v. Byron Healy

September 12, 2011


Appeal from the District Court of the Third Judicial District, State of Idaho, Canyon County. Hon. Ron Schilling, District Judge; Hon. Debra A. Orr, Magistrate.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Gutierrez, Judge

2011 Opinion No. 56

Stephen W. Kenyon, Clerk

District court's intermediate appellate decision affirming judgment of conviction for driving under the influence, affirmed.

Byron Healy appeals from the district court's intermediate appellate decision affirming his judgment of conviction for driving under the influence. Specifically, Healy challenges the admission of his breath test results at trial. For the reasons set forth below, we affirm.


On November 3, 2007, a police officer stopped Healy for speeding and failing to maintain in his lane of travel. The officer noticed Healy's speech was slow and slurred, his eyes were bloodshot and glossy, and the smell of alcohol was coming from his vehicle. Healy admitted to the officer that he had consumed seven or eight drinks that evening. The officer performed standard field sobriety tests on Healy, which he failed, and the officer placed Healy under arrest. After Healy was transported to the jail, the arresting officer administered a breath test using the Intoxilyzer 5000EN. The test results showed an alcohol concentration of .16, .18, and .15.

The State charged Healy with driving under the influence, Idaho Code § 18-8004. At trial, Healy objected to the admission of his breath test results, asserting the State failed to lay adequate foundation to establish their reliability. After an offer of proof through the testimony of a breath testing specialist, the magistrate overruled Healy's objection and admitted the breath test results into evidence. The jury found Healy guilty of driving under the influence. Healy appealed and the district court affirmed his conviction. Healy appeals the district court's intermediate appellate decision.


On review of a decision of the district court, rendered in its appellate capacity, we review the decision of the district court directly. Losser v. Bradstreet, 145 Idaho 670, 672, 183 P.3d 758, 760 (2008); State v. DeWitt, 145 Idaho 709, 711, 184 P.3d 215, 217 (Ct. App. 2008). We examine the magistrate record to determine whether there is substantial and competent evidence to support the magistrate's findings of fact and whether the magistrate's conclusions of law follow from those findings. Id. If those findings are so supported and the conclusions follow therefrom and if the district court affirmed the magistrate's decision, we affirm the district court's decision as a matter of procedure. Id.

The decision whether to admit evidence at trial is generally within the province of the trial court. A trial court's determination that evidence is supported by a proper foundation is reviewed for an abuse of discretion. State v. Gilpin, 132 Idaho 643, 646, 977 P.2d 905, 908 (Ct. App. 1999). Therefore, a trial court's determination as to the admission of evidence at trial will only be reversed where there has been an abuse of that discretion. State v. Zimmerman, 121 Idaho 971, 973-74, 829 P.2d 861, 863-64 (1992).


Healy asserts the district court erred in holding the magistrate was within its discretion when the magistrate held that the proper foundation had been laid to admit the Intoxilyzer 5000EN results. In order to have the results of a breath test admitted as evidence at trial, the State must proceed in one of two ways. First, it may establish that the administrative procedures, which ensure the reliability of that test, have been met. State v. Mazzuca, 132 Idaho 868, 869, 979 P.2d 1226, 1227 (Ct. App. 1999); State v. Utz, 125 Idaho 127, 129, 867 P.2d 1001, 1003 (Ct. App. 1993). Under I.C. § 18-8004(4)*fn1 , the State can meet this foundational requirement by showing a state agency approved the equipment and an officer operated the equipment and administered the test in conformity with applicable standards. State v. Nickerson, 132 Idaho 406, 411, 973 P.2d 758, 763 (Ct. App. 1999).

If the State cannot show conformity with the applicable test procedures, it does not automatically require the exclusion of the test results governed by I.C. § 18-8004(4). State v. Charan, 132 Idaho 341, 343, 971 P.2d 1165, 1167 (Ct. App. 1998). Rather, the State, as a second option, may call an expert witness to establish the reliability of the test, thereby making test results admissible. Id. To illustrate, in Charan, the defendant showed that the procedures for administering a breath test with the Intoxilyzer 5000 had not been met because the officer did not observe the defendant for the required fifteen minutes prior to giving the test. The defendant moved to exclude the test results on that basis. However, the district court admitted the results by relying on the testimony of an officer who qualified as an expert based on his experience with both giving breath tests and training other officers on the breath test equipment. The expert testified that even though the procedures for using the machine may not have been followed exactly, the test result for the Intoxilyzer 5000 was reliable for two reasons. First, the fifteen- minute waiting period was a procedure implemented for an older model of breathalyzer to ensure that nothing entered the subject's mouth prior to the test. Because the older model could not ...

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