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Maietta v. Commissioner of Public Safety

June 24, 2003

DONALD PETER MAIETTA, PETITIONER, APPELLANT,
v.
COMMISSIONER OF PUBLIC SAFETY, RESPONDENT.



Dakota County District Court File No. C1022597

Considered and decided by Randall, Presiding Judge, Kalitowski, Judge, and Schumacher, Judge.

SYLLABUS BY THE COURT

1. Based on the stipulated facts, the district court did not err in determining that appellant's refusal to submit to a test to determine the presence of alcohol was not reasonable.

2. An ineffective assistance of counsel claim may not be brought in an implied consent revocation proceeding.

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

Affirmed

Dissenting, Randall, Judge

OPINION

Appellant Donald Peter Maietta challenges the decision by the district court sustaining the revocation of appellant's driver's license, arguing that (1) his refusal to submit to testing was reasonable; and (2) he was denied his right to effective assistance of counsel.

FACTS

The parties stipulated to the following facts: Appellant was arrested on April 26, 2002, for DWI, and an officer read appellant the implied consent advisory. The completed implied consent advisory stated that appellant understood that refusal to take a test was a crime. Appellant then told the officer that he wanted to speak to an attorney. After speaking to the attorney, appellant refused to submit to testing and gave as his reason the advice of his attorney. Appellant expressed confusion and no further conversation occurred between appellant and the officer. Appellant was deemed to have refused testing.

Based on these limited facts, the district court sustained the revocation of appellant's driver's license.

ISSUES

Was appellant's refusal to submit to testing in this case reasonable?

Was appellant denied the right to effective assistance of counsel when appellant refused to submit to testing based on the advice of the attorney?

ANALYSIS

I.

At the time an officer requests that an individual take a chemical test to determine the presence of alcohol or controlled substances, the person must be informed that refusal to take a test is a crime. Minn. Stat. § 169A.51, subd. 2(2) (2002). If a person refuses to permit a test, then a test must not be given. Minn. Stat. § 169A.52, subd. 1 (2002). Under the implied-consent statute, it is an affirmative defense for appellant to prove that his refusal to permit the test was based on reasonable grounds. Minn. Stat. § 169A.53, subd. 3(c) (2002). Whether a refusal is reasonable is generally characterized as a question of fact for the district court that will be reversed only if clearly erroneous. State, Dep't of Highways v. Beckey, 291 Minn. 483, 486-87, 192 N.W.2d 441, 444-45 (1971). But where there is no dispute as to facts, the legal significance of the facts may be a question of law. See Berge v. Comm'r of Pub. Safety, 374 N.W.2d 730, 732 (Minn. ...


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