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State of Idaho v. Kimberlee Ann Decker

November 14, 2011


Appeal from the District Court of the Fifth Judicial District, State of Idaho, Blaine County. Hon. Robert J. Elgee, District Judge; Hon. R. Ted Israel, Magistrate.

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

2011 Opinion No. 68

Stephen W. Kenyon, Clerk

District court's intermediate appellate decision affirming judgment of conviction for driving under the influence with an excessive alcohol concentration, affirmed.

Kimberlee Ann Decker appeals from the district court's intermediate appellate decision affirming her judgment of conviction, entered by the magistrate upon Decker's conditional guilty plea, for driving under the influence with an excessive alcohol concentration. Specifically, she challenges the district court's affirmance of the magistrate's denial of her motion to suppress. For the reasons set forth below, we affirm.


Kimberlee Ann Decker was involved in an automobile accident near Ketchum, Idaho. Blaine County Sheriff's Office Deputy Daniel Turner, who had approximately nine months of law enforcement experience, responded to the scene. He observed Decker laying on a gurney, smelled alcohol on her person, and observed several small wine bottles on the floor of Decker's vehicle.

Decker was transported to a hospital where Deputy Turner observed she had glassy and blood shot eyes, smelled of alcohol, had slurred speech, and was exhibiting slightly-impaired memory. Decker admitted she had consumed six glasses of wine. Deputy Turner requested she submit to a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) test. However, Deputy Turner did not read Decker the entirety of the standard "Suspension Advisory Form," created pursuant to Idaho Code sections 18-8002(3)*fn1 and 18-8002A,*fn2 nor did he direct her to read the form. Instead, he "paraphrased" it, but failed to advise her that after submitting to the test, she had the right to obtain her own independent testing. He later admitted he may have also failed to advise Decker that she did not have a right to consult an attorney prior to submitting to the test and completely failed to advise her of the civil consequences of refusing to consent, both as outlined by the advisory form. Finally, Deputy Turner departed from the statutory advisories by telling Decker that her driver's license would be suspended regardless of the test outcome since she admitted to drinking, she smelled like alcohol, and wine bottles were found in her car.

Decker signed a form consenting to a BAC test. Her blood alcohol level was found to be .33, well above the legal limit.*fn3 She was charged with misdemeanor driving under the influence with "an alcohol concentration of 0.20 . . . or more, as shown by an analysis of his blood, breath or urine by a test requested by a police officer. . . ." I.C. § 18-8004C(1) ("excessive DUI"). She filed a motion to suppress the BAC results on the basis that Deputy Turner failed to comply with the statutory requirement that he advise her of her right to obtain an independent test and that this failure violated her federal and state due process rights. The magistrate denied the motion. Decker entered a conditional guilty plea, reserving her right to challenge the denial of her motion to suppress. On intermediate appeal, the district court affirmed the magistrate's denial of her motion. Decker now appeals.


Decker argues her statutory and due process rights were violated by the officer's failure to advise her of her right to obtain an additional, independent BAC test and, therefore, her BAC results should have been suppressed. The State concedes the officer failed to advise Decker of this right before her blood draw was performed; however, it contends Decker fails to show that a violation of the statutory notice requirement requires suppression or that such a failure implicates due process.

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 division 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 standard of review of a suppression motion is bifurcated. When a decision on a motion to suppress is challenged, we accept the trial court's findings of fact that are supported by substantial evidence, but we freely review the application of constitutional principles to the facts as found. State v. Atkinson, 128 Idaho 559, 561, 916 P.2d 1284, 1286 (Ct. App. 1996). At a suppression hearing, the power to assess the credibility of witnesses, resolve factual conflicts, weigh evidence, and draw factual inferences is vested in the trial court. State v. Valdez-Molina, 127 Idaho 102, 106, 897 P.2d 993, 997 (1995); State v. Schevers, 132 Idaho 786, 789, 979 P.2d 659, 662 (Ct. App. 1999).

This Court exercises free review over the application and construction of statutes. State v. Reyes, 139 Idaho 502, 505, 80 P.3d 1103, 1106 (Ct. App. 2003). Where the language of a statute is plain and unambiguous, this Court must give effect to the statute as written, without engaging in statutory construction. State v. Rhode, 133 Idaho 459, 462, 988 P.2d 685, 688 (1999); State v. Burnight, 132 Idaho 654, 659, 978 P.2d 214, 219 (1999); State v. Escobar, 134 Idaho 387, 389, 3 P.3d 65, 67 (Ct. App. 2000). The language of the statute is to be given its plain, obvious, and rational meaning. Burnight, 132 Idaho at 659, 978 P.2d at 219. If the language is clear and unambiguous, there is no occasion for the court to resort to legislative history or rules of statutory interpretation. Escobar, 134 Idaho at 389, 3 P.3d at 67. When this Court must engage in statutory construction, it has the duty to ascertain the legislative intent and give effect to that intent. Rhode, 133 Idaho at 462, 988 P.2d at 688. To ascertain the intent of the legislature, not only must the literal words of the statute be examined, but also the context of those words, the public policy behind the statute, and its legislative history. Id. It is incumbent upon a court to give a statute an ...

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