Opinion No. 87
from the District Court of the Fourth Judicial District of
the State of Idaho, Boise County. Hon. Patrick H. Owen,
district court's order denying the motion to suppress,
Thomas, Idaho State Appellate Public Defender, Boise,
attorney for appellant. Justin Curtis argued.
Lawrence G. Wasden, Idaho Attorney General, Boise, attorney
for respondent. Jessica Lorello argued.
Nature of the Case
Charlson ("Charlson") appeals from his conviction
and subsequent withheld judgment for felony driving under the
influence. Before the trial, Charlson filed a motion to
suppress the results of an evidentiary blood draw that was
conducted without a warrant. The district court denied the
motion, and Charlson was convicted of felony driving under
the influence after a jury trial in the Fourth Judicial
District. Charlson appeals the denial of his motion to
suppress the results of the evidentiary blood draw on the
grounds that the draw violated his Fourth Amendment rights.
Factual and Procedural Background
11, 2012, Charlson was involved in a motorcycle crash near
mile post 54 of State Highway 52 in Boise County. Deputy Rob
Talitian ("Dep. Talitian") of the Boise County
Sheriff's Office was dispatched to the accident at
approximately 6:00 P.M. When Dep. Talitian arrived on the
scene, he observed two motorcycles on their sides on the
ground. Charlson was lying on the ground with several
apparent injuries. Charlson told Dep. Talitian that he lost
control when trying to navigate a turn and crashed.
Talitian observed a strong odor of an alcoholic beverage
emanating from Charlson. When Dep. Talitian requested
Charlson's driver's license, registration, and proof
of insurance, Charlson handed the deputy his license, and
told him that the other documents were in the saddlebags of
his motorcycle. Dep. Talitian opened the saddlebags, locating
an expired registration card and an expired insurance card,
as well as a soft cooler containing four empty beer cans.
When asked, Charlson told the deputy that he had consumed two
beers that day.
time, an ambulance arrived on scene and the paramedics began
attending to Charlson. Charlson was taken to the landing zone
to await air transport to St. Luke's Hospital. The deputy
then investigated the other motorcycle and its driver, which
are not relevant to this appeal.
waiting for air transport, Charlson "told [Dep.
Talitian] to get [his] breath tester and he would blow."
Charlson first blew a 0.117, but when requested to blow a
second time, he was "unable or unwilling to do so."
Dep. Talitian requested that a blood sample be obtained from
Charlson at the hospital. There is no contention that Dep.
Talitian told Charlson that he was required to submit to the
was transported by Life-Flight to St. Luke's Hospital in
Boise. At St. Luke's, a licensed phlebotomist took a
blood sample from Charlson. Forensic analysis determined that
Charlson's blood-alcohol concentration ("BAC")
was 0.102 grams/100ccs of blood, 0.022 above the legal limit
of 0.08. Charlson had prior convictions for DUI in 2004 and
2005. He was charged with felony DUI by virtue of this being
his third DUI within ten years, in violation of Idaho code
section 18-8004. Charlson was formally charged by information
on February 25, 2013. He pleaded not guilty.
April 17, 2013, the United States Supreme Court released its
opinion in Missouri v. McNeely, 133 S.Ct. 1552
(2013). On May 21, 2013, Charlson filed a motion to suppress
the evidence stemming from the warrantless blood draw,
arguing that McNeely meant that Idaho's implied
consent statute could not be used to support a consent
argument, and that McNeely also instructed that the
circumstances in this case were not sufficiently exigent to
justify the warrantless blood draw.
hearing regarding the motion was conducted on June 13, 2013.
At this hearing, no evidence was presented by either party,
but the parties did agree to certain stipulations as follows:
(1) at the time of the arrest, there was no procedure in
place for the Boise County Sheriff's Office to use Ada
County magistrates to obtain warrants for blood draws for
DUIs in Boise County; (2) there was no cellphone reception in
the vicinity of the crash; and (3) Dep. Talitian had to
remain on scene to continue his investigation after Charlson
was transported. The parties both relied on their briefs
filed before the court, which contained statements of facts
not supported by any evidence.
district court noted the unusual procedure:
Each side has relied upon a statement of "facts"
set forth in their respective briefs. These "facts"
are not supported by reference to any testimony, or for that
matter to any police report. This is highly unusual.
Additionally, neither side objects to the facts as set forth
by the other, or to the absence of any testimony to support
the statement of "facts." The parties have not
presented any evidence or testimony relating to the facts.
The [c]ourt does not believe that this is an appropriate way
to frame the facts in this, or in any other, case. However,
as explained below, in this case, the [c]ourt concludes that
there is basic agreement on the limited facts essential to
the confusion regarding the way the motion was tried, the
district court requested documents from the parties,
including a police report, probable cause statement, incident
summary, and photographs. From these documents, the district
court found the facts as described herein.
district court recognized that, having not obtained a search
warrant to draw Charlson's blood, the State had the
burden of establishing a valid exception to the warrant
requirement. It found that the State met its burden of
establishing that the consent exception applied. "In the
[c]ourt's view, the consent issue is controlled by the
Idaho Supreme Court's decision in State v. Diaz,
144 Idaho 300 (2007)." In Diaz, this Court
found that the implied consent statute provides that by
driving on Idaho's roads, defendants have consented to
evidentiary testing, including blood draws. Therefore,
according to Diaz, warrantless blood draws are
permissible when the officer has probable cause to believe
the defendant was driving while intoxicated, and when the
blood draw is performed in a medically acceptable manner and
without undue force. State v. Diaz, 144 Idaho 300,
303, 160 P.3d 739, 742 (2007), overruled by State v.
Wulff, 157 Idaho 416, 423, 337 P.3d 575, 582 (2014).
case before it, the district court found that there was
probable cause to believe that Charlson was driving under the
influence, and that the blood draw was done in a medically
acceptable manner. Therefore, the district court concluded,