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Morehouse v. Commissioner of Public Safety

Supreme Court of Minnesota

May 2, 2018

Mitchell Edwin Morehouse, Appellant,
v.
Commissioner of Public Safety, Respondent.

         Court of Appeals Office of Appellate Courts

          Charles A. Ramsay, Daniel J. Koewler, Hayley A. Steptoe, Ramsay Law Firm, P.L.L.C., Roseville, Minnesota, for appellant.

          Lori Swanson, Attorney General, Peter D. Magnuson, Assistant Attorney General, Saint Paul, Minnesota, for respondent.

         SYLLABUS

         Because appellant did not establish that he was prejudiced by the reading of the implied consent advisory, appellant is not entitled to a rescission of his license revocation under McDonnell v. Commissioner of Public Safety, 473 N.W.2d 848 (Minn. 1991).

          OPINION

          ANDERSON, JUSTICE.

         Appellant Mitchell Edwin Morehouse submitted to a blood test after his arrest on suspicion of driving while impaired. The blood test result showed an alcohol concentration in excess of the legal limit. Respondent Commissioner of Public Safety revoked Morehouse's driver's license. Morehouse petitioned the district court to review the revocation, arguing that the implied consent advisory read to him was legally inaccurate. The district court sustained the revocation on the basis that Morehouse voluntarily consented to the blood test. The court of appeals reversed and remanded on different grounds. Morehouse v. Comm'r of Pub. Safety, No. A16-0277, 2016 WL 4497470, at *1 (Minn.App. Aug. 29, 2016). Morehouse petitioned our court for review on the question of whether the implied consent advisory was inaccurate and therefore violated his due process rights. Because Morehouse has not established that he was prejudiced by the reading of the implied consent advisory, we affirm.

         FACTS

         Shortly after midnight on August 30, 2015, a Minnesota state trooper was patrolling in a marked squad car when he saw a car driving with its hazard lights flashing. The trooper turned on the squad car lights, pulled up behind the car, and began following the car, intending to check the welfare of its occupants. At first, the driver pulled over as the trooper approached, at some point turning off the hazard lights. The driver then turned on the left signal light and began driving away. As a result, the trooper turned on the squad car's siren, and the driver pulled over and came to a stop.

         The trooper identified the driver as appellant Mitchell Edwin Morehouse. Morehouse was arrested for driving under the influence, and at the county jail the trooper read him the implied consent advisory. The trooper asked Morehouse to take a urine test, but Morehouse refused. Later, however, Morehouse submitted to a blood test. Because the test results showed an alcohol concentration above the legal limit, respondent Commissioner of Public Safety revoked Morehouse's driver's license.

         Morehouse petitioned the district court to review the revocation of his driver's license, arguing that the implied consent advisory read to him was legally inaccurate. The district court sustained the revocation on the basis that Morehouse voluntarily consented to the blood test. The district court did not address Morehouse's argument, made under McDonnell v. Commissioner of Public Safety, 473 N.W.2d 848 (Minn. 1991), that the legal inaccuracy of the implied consent advisory violated his substantive due process rights.

         The court of appeals reversed and remanded for an evaluation of the voluntariness of Morehouse's consent.[1] Morehouse, 2016 WL 4497470 at *3. The court of appeals concluded that Morehouse's claim under McDonnell failed because the implied consent advisory read to Morehouse was accurate at the time it was read. Id. at *1. It reasoned that Morehouse's due process rights were not violated because law enforcement "did not actively mislead" him. Id.

         We granted Morehouse's ...


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