Dakota County District Court File No. 19HA-CR-11-342 Schellhas, Judge
Lori Swanson, Attorney General, St. Paul, Minnesota; and James C. Backstrom, Dakota County Attorney, Heather D. Pipenhagen, Assistant County Attorney, Hastings, Minnesota (for respondent)
Bradford Colbert, Legal Assistance to Minnesota Prisoners, St. Paul, Minnesota (for appellant)
Considered and decided by Hudson, Presiding Judge; Schellhas, Judge; and Bjorkman, Judge.
Appellant challenges his convictions of first-degree driving while impaired and first-degree refusal to submit to an implied-consent test. Appellant argues that the district court committed plain error by admitting invalid Intoxilyzer results into evidence and that the evidence is insufficient to sustain his convictions. We affirm.
While driving from Farmington to Hastings in the early morning hours of January 28, 2011, H.G. saw a white truck in a ditch with a person sitting in the driver's seat. Thirty to forty minutes later, H.G. noticed that the truck was still in the ditch and saw a man walking along the road about a mile from the truck. The man was later identified as appellant Anthony Braun. H.G. stopped and offered Braun her phone so that he could call someone for a ride. Instead, H.G. drove Braun to the truck that he identified as his. Braun told H.G. that someone else had been in the truck. H.G. observed that Braun was "very drunk." When H.G. and Braun reached the truck, no one was in it, and Braun said that he would be unable to get the truck out of the ditch. H.G. therefore called the Dakota County Sheriff's Office for help and waited for help to arrive.
When Dakota County Sergeant James Iliff arrived at the scene, he observed that the truck was stuck in the snow on a snowmobile trail far from the road. At 3:14 a.m., Dakota County Deputies Daniel Siebenaler and Gordon Steffel also arrived at the scene. With a cigarette that had a charred filter backwards in his mouth, Braun approached Deputy Siebenaler and asked if he "had a match." Deputy Siebenaler observed that Braun's speech was very slurred, slow, and disoriented; he had a strong odor of an alcoholic beverage; he was staggering, swaying, and unsure of himself; and he had disheveled clothing and wet pants. Based on Siebenaler's training and 30 years' experience, he believed that Braun was under the influence of alcohol, and Deputy Steffel formed the same belief. When Braun ignored several requests to perform field-sobriety tests, Deputy Siebenaler placed him under arrest for driving while impaired and found a set of keys to the truck in Braun's pocket. After Deputy Siebenaler handcuffed Braun and placed him in the squad car, Braun complained of problems breathing and Deputy Siebenaler therefore adjusted Braun's handcuffs and removed them upon arrival at the jail. Braun expressed no further concerns about his breathing.
At 4:06 a.m., Deputy Siebenaler began reading Braun the implied-consent advisory, and he and Deputy Steffel attempted to help Braun contact an attorney but to no avail. At approximately 5:23 a.m., Braun agreed to submit to a breath test. Deputy Steffel, certified in the Intoxilyzer 5000, then attempted to administer the test. Braun's first breath sample was deficient but showed an alcohol concentration of .185. For the second breath sample, Braun breathed no air into the Intoxilyzer, also resulting in a deficient sample. Deputy Steffel restarted the testing process and administered a second Intoxilyzer test to Braun, whose first breath sample was adequate and showed an alcohol concentration of .177. Braun's second breath sample was deficient but showed an alcohol concentration of .189. The Intoxilyzer did not provide a final result because Braun did not provide two adequate breath samples. Deputy Steffel observed that Braun's deficient breath samples were the result of his blowing around the breath tube rather than through it and not blowing long enough into the tube.
Respondent State of Minnesota charged Braun with first-degree driving while impaired (DWI) under Minn. Stat. §§ 169A.20, subd. 1(1); .24 (2010), and first-degree refusal to submit to implied-consent test under Minn. Stat. §§ 169A.20, subd. 2; .24 (2010). On November 22, 2011, the district court found Braun to be incompetent under Minn. R. Crim. P. 20.01, subd. 2, and suspended the proceedings. On December 2, 2011, the district court found Braun to be competent; reinstated the proceedings; and commenced a jury trial on April 17, 2012. Braun testified that his truck broke down, he went to retrieve it, he had the truck keys in his pocket, and he was not under the influence of alcohol. Braun also testified that, at the time of his arrest, he had chest pains and thought that he was having a heart attack. The implied-consent advisory confused him, and, although he attempted to cooperate with Deputy Steffel's instructions, he testified that he was unable to do so. The state impeached Braun with his 2007 felony DWI conviction. Without objection by Braun, the district court admitted into evidence the Intoxilyzer tests. The jury found Braun guilty of both offenses.
This appeal ...