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Johnson v. Commissioner of Public Safety

Supreme Court of Minnesota

May 2, 2018

Tyler Lee Johnson, Respondent,
v.
Commissioner of Public Safety, Appellant.

          Court of Appeals Office of Appellate Courts

          Charles A. Ramsay, Daniel J. Koewler, Ramsay Law Firm, P.L.L.C., Roseville, Minnesota; and Brian M. Glodosky, Kelsey Law Office, P.A., Cambridge, Minnesota, for respondent.

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

         SYLLABUS

         Because the reading of the implied consent advisory did not prejudice respondent, a rescission of respondent's driver's license revocation is not required under McDonnell v. Commissioner of Public Safety, 473 N.W.2d 848');">473 N.W.2d 848 (Minn. 1991).

          OPINION

          ANDERSON, Justice.

         Appellant Commissioner of Public Safety revoked respondent Tyler Lee Johnson's driver's license after his arrest on suspicion of driving while impaired and refusal to submit to blood and urine tests. Johnson petitioned the district court to review the revocation, arguing that his due process rights were violated when he was read an inaccurate implied consent advisory. The district court agreed with Johnson and rescinded the revocation. The court of appeals affirmed. Johnson v. Comm'r Pub. Safety, 887 N.W.2d 281, 295 (Minn.App. 2016). Because the reading of the implied consent advisory did not prejudice Johnson, we reverse.

         FACTS

         On November 9, 2015, a police officer responded to the scene of a car accident. Respondent Tyler Lee Johnson had driven through an intersection and collided with a tree. The officer discovered Johnson sitting in the driver's seat of the car, talking on his cell phone, seemingly unconcerned with the accident and unaware of the officer's presence.

         The officer asked Johnson to get out of the car and, after Johnson did so, the officer saw a large bottle of pills between the driver's seat and the center console. The pills were a variety of colors and styles. Johnson admitted that the pill bottle belonged to him. Johnson submitted to, and failed, field sobriety tests and refused to submit to a preliminary breath test. The officer suspected, however, that Johnson had not consumed alcohol because Johnson showed no "clues" on the horizontal gaze nystagmus test. The officer arrested Johnson on suspicion of driving under the influence of a controlled substance.

         The officer read Johnson an implied consent advisory that stated that refusal to submit to a urine test was a crime. The officer waited a little more than an hour for Johnson to contact an attorney, after which the officer asked Johnson to submit to urine and blood tests. Johnson refused to submit to either test. Appellant Commissioner of Public Safety revoked Johnson's driver's license for refusing to submit to a test.

         Johnson sought judicial review of his license revocation. The district court rescinded the revocation, finding that the implied consent advisory was misleading because it incorrectly stated that refusal to submit to a urine test was a crime. Relying on McDonnell v. Commissioner of Public Safety, 473 N.W.2d 848');">473 N.W.2d 848 (Minn. 1991), the district court concluded that the advisory violated Johnson's due process right to not be misled by the threat of legally impossible charges.

         The court of appeals affirmed the district court. Johnson, 887 N.W.2d at 295. Applying McDonnell, the court of appeals concluded that the implied consent advisory was inaccurate because none of the exceptions to the warrant requirement advanced by the Commissioner encompassed a compelled urine test. Id. at 289-91. It upheld the rescission on the basis that the threat of ...


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