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Kempin v. Commissioner of Public Safety

Court of Appeals of Minnesota

December 30, 2013

Heidi Marie Kempin, petitioner, Appellant,
v.
Commissioner of Public Safety, Respondent.

UNPUBLISHED OPINION

Stearns County District Court File No. 73-CR-12-9567.

Rodd Tschida, Minneapolis, Minnesota (for appellant).

Lori Swanson, Attorney General, Jeffrey S. Bilcik, Assistant Attorney General, St. Paul, Minnesota (for respondent).

Considered and decided by Kirk, Presiding Judge; Smith, Judge; and Harten, Judge.[*]

SMITH, Judge

We affirm the district court's decision to sustain the revocation of appellant's driver's license under the implied-consent law because there was probable cause to believe that she was driving while impaired.

FACTS

A caller reported a bumper in the middle of County Road 44 in Linden Township on the night of September 13, 2012. In response, at approximately 11:21 p.m., the Stearns County Sheriff's Office dispatched deputies to investigate the possible motor-vehicle accident. In less than 15 minutes, several deputies arrived at the scene and observed a red bumper, with a license plate, in the middle of the road. Following a brief search, a deputy located the corresponding vehicle at the nearby home of its registered owners, appellant Heidi Marie Kempin and her husband.

At the residence, deputies Robert Theisen and Nathan Watson made contact with Kempin's husband, who indicated that Kempin had driven the vehicle home "not too long ago, " or approximately one hour prior. The deputies inspected the vehicle and Deputy Theisen felt warm air coming from the front of the vehicle, leading him to "believe the vehicle was recently driven." The deputies questioned Kempin, who admitted driving the vehicle and losing its bumper, allegedly due to striking a raccoon or other animal in the road. Kempin estimated that "she had been home for maybe an hour, hour and a half" and said she planned to retrieve the bumper the following day. The deputies observed that, during the exchange, Kempin emitted an odor of alcoholic beverage, had "very glossy" eyes and difficulty focusing, swayed, made slow, deliberate movements, gave very short answers, and tried to avoid them. When asked if she had consumed alcohol that night, Kempin said she had not. Kempin submitted to a chemical test that indicated a blood alcohol concentration of 0.16. The deputies arrested Kempin for driving while impaired.

The Commissioner of Public Safety subsequently revoked Kempin's driver's license. Kempin petitioned for judicial review and, following a hearing, the district court sustained the revocation.

DECISION

Under the implied-consent law, the commissioner of public safety shall revoke a person's driver's license if a peace officer certifies that (1) there was probable cause to believe the person committed the offense of driving while impaired and (2) the person submitted to a chemical test that indicated an alcohol concentration of 0.08 or more. Minn. Stat. § 169A.52, subd. 4(a) (2012). A person commits the offense of driving while impaired if the person drives while under the influence of alcohol or, absent the affirmative defense of postdriving consumption, has an "alcohol concentration at the time, or as measured within two hours of the time, of driving" of 0.08 or more. Minn. Stat. §§ 169A.20, subd. 1(1), (5), .46, subd. 1 (2012).

Kempin challenges the district court's probable cause determination.[1] Probable cause exists when the officer knows facts and circumstances that warrant a prudent person to believe that an individual committed the offense of driving while impaired. State v. Koppi, 798 N.W.2d 358, 362 (Minn. 2011). We evaluate probable cause based on the totality of the circumstances and from the arresting officer's point of view, giving deference to the officer's experience and judgment. Delong v. Comm'r of Pub. Safety, 386 N.W.2d 296, 298 (Minn.App. 1986), review denied (Minn. June 13, 1986). When the facts are not significantly in ...


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