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State v. Wood

Court of Appeals of Minnesota

January 7, 2019

State of Minnesota, Respondent,
v.
Brett Michael Wood, Appellant.

          Stearns County District Court File No. 73-CR-16-2409

          Keith M. Ellison, Attorney General, Peter Magnuson, Assistant Attorney General, St. Paul, Minnesota; and Janelle Kendall, Stearns County Attorney, (for respondent)

          Cathryn Middlebrook, Chief Appellate Public Defender, Adam Lozeau, Assistant Public Defender (for appellant)

          Considered and decided by Ross, Presiding Judge; Johnson, Judge; and Tracy M. Smith, Judge.

         SYLLABUS

         Because law-enforcement officers did not read the implied-consent advisory to appellant when they arrested him for driving while impaired in March 2016 but, rather, obtained a search warrant authorizing a blood draw, the officers were not precluded by the Minnesota Implied Consent Law then in effect, Minn. Stat. §§ 169A.50-.53 (2014), from executing the search warrant after appellant did not consent to the blood draw and objected to a blood test.

          OPINION

          JOHNSON, JUDGE.

         In March 2016, Brett Michael Wood was arrested for driving while impaired. Law-enforcement officers did not read Wood the implied-consent advisory. Instead, the officers sought and obtained a search warrant that authorized the taking of a sample of Wood's blood. The officers executed the search warrant over Wood's objection. The district court denied Wood's motion to suppress evidence of the result of the blood test, and a jury found him guilty at trial.

         On appeal, Wood argues that the district court erred by denying his motion to suppress evidence on the ground that he had a statutory right to object to the blood test and thereby prevent the officers from executing the warrant. He relies on a statute that provides, in part, "If a person refuses to permit a test, then a test must not be given Minn. Stat. § 169A.52, subd. 1 (2014). We conclude that the statute on which Wood relies does not apply in this case because the officers did not read Wood the implied-consent advisory but, rather, sought and obtained a search warrant that authorized the taking of a blood sample. Therefore, we affirm.

         FACTS

         Late in the evening of March 11, 2016, St. Joseph police officer Travis Manderscheid and reserve officer Gary Lauer stopped a vehicle driven by Wood after seeing that the vehicle's registration tabs had expired. When the officers asked Wood to identify himself, he gave the officers another person's name. Officer Manderscheid determined that the other person had an active arrest warrant and, thus, arrested Wood. During a search of Wood's person, the officers found papers bearing Wood's real name. Wood explained that he had given the officers the name of the other person because he believed that he himself had an outstanding warrant.

         Meanwhile, police officer Jason Luethmers and deputy sheriff Shawn Widmer arrived on the scene. During the officers' interactions with Wood, they observed that Wood was "very shaky, jittery, and fidgety"; was "sweating profusely"; and was speaking very rapidly. While searching him incident to his arrest, Deputy Widmer asked Wood to open his mouth, which revealed "heat bumps" on the back of Wood's tongue. Three officers later testified that heat bumps may be caused by smoking methamphetamine. Officer Manderscheid conducted field sobriety tests, which were inconclusive. Officer Manderscheid believed that Wood was under the influence of methamphetamine. Wood denied being under the influence of any controlled substance. Officer Manderscheid asked Wood whether he would voluntarily consent to a blood draw; Wood said that he would not do so.

         Officer Luethmers sought and obtained a search warrant to authorize the taking of a blood sample. Meanwhile, Officers Manderscheid and Lauer transported Wood to a St. Cloud hospital. A St. Cloud police officer and a hospital security officer met the squad car at the entrance to the hospital, and Wood was taken to an examination room. Wood again stated that he was not consenting to a blood draw. He asked to speak with an attorney, but the officers did not allow him to do so. The officers physically restrained Wood, who was in handcuffs, so that a hospital technician could perform the blood draw. Wood's blood sample tested positive for amphetamine and methamphetamine.

         The state promptly charged Wood with three offenses. One month later, the state amended the complaint to add a charge. As amended, the complaint alleged (1) first-degree driving while impaired (DWI) by operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of a controlled substance, in violation of Minn. Stat. § 169A.20, subd. 1(2) (2014); (2) first-degree DWI by operating a motor vehicle while one's body contains any amount of a schedule I or II controlled substance other than marijuana, in violation of Minn. Stat. § 169A. 20, subd. 1(7) (2014); (3) driving a motor vehicle after cancellation of a driver's license as inimical to public safety, in violation of Minn. Stat. § 171.24, subd. 5 (2014); and (4) giving a peace officer a false name of another person, in violation of Minn. Stat. § 609.506, subd. 2 (2014).

         In June 2016, Wood moved to dismiss the complaint for lack of probable cause or, alternatively, to suppress the evidence of the result of the blood test. The district court held a contested hearing in August 2016. Officers Manderscheid, Widmer, and Luethmers testified for the state, and Wood testified on his own behalf. In a memorandum filed after the hearing, Wood argued, among other things, that law-enforcement officers violated his statutory right to not be subjected to a blood test after he refused to submit to chemical testing. In October 2016, the district court filed an order denying Wood's motion in its entirety. The district court reasoned, in part, that the officers were "under no obligation to read Defendant" the implied-consent advisory and that the officers "used lawful, well-established means to conduct a blood test pursuant to a signed warrant."

         The case went to trial in June 2017. The jury found Wood guilty of all charges. In August 2017, the district court imposed concurrent sentences of 72 months of imprisonment on count 2 and 365 days of jail time on count 4. The district court dismissed count 1 and did not impose a sentence on count 3. Wood appeals.

         ISSUE

         Were law-enforcement officers permitted to execute a search warrant that authorized the taking of a sample of appellant's blood after he was arrested for DWI in March 2016, even though he did not consent to the blood draw and objected to a blood test?

         ANALYSIS

         Wood argues that the district court erred by denying his motion to suppress evidence of the result of a blood test conducted after a non-consensual blood draw that was authorized by a search warrant. He does not contend that law-enforcement officers violated the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution. Indeed, the United States Supreme Court has held that a non-consensual blood draw is constitutionally permissible if it is performed pursuant to a valid search warrant. See Missouri v. McNeely, 569 U.S. 141, 148, 133 S.Ct. 1552, 1558 (2013); Schmerber v. California, 384 U.S. 757, 766-70, 86 S.Ct. 1826, 1833-36 (1966). Instead, Wood contends that law-enforcement officers violated a state statute that provides, in part, "If a person refuses to permit a test, then a test must not be given . . . ." Minn. Stat. § 169A.52, subd. 1 (2014). Wood contends that this statutory provision "limits the authority of police to execute a search warrant for a person's blood if the person refuses to permit the blood test." In response, the state contends that the statute does not apply in this case on the ground that the statute is part of the implied-consent law, which the officers did not invoke because they did not read Wood the implied-consent advisory. In the alternative, the state contends that the evidence of Wood's blood-test result should be admitted under an exception to the exclusionary rule.

         To resolve the parties' disagreement over the meaning of the 2014 version of the particular statutory provision on which Wood relies-the first two clauses of subdivision 1 of section 169A.52-we must engage in statutory interpretation. "The first step in statutory interpretation is to determine whether the statute's language, on its face, is ambiguous." State v. Thonesavanh, 904 N.W.2d 432, 435 (Minn. 2017). "'A statute is ambiguous only if it is subject to more than one reasonable interpretation.'" Id. (quoting 500, LLC v. City of Minneapolis, 837 N.W.2d 287, 290 (Minn. 2013)). If a statute is unambiguous, "then we must apply the statute's plain meaning." State v. Nelson, 842 N.W.2d 433, 436 (Minn. 2014) (quotation omitted). But if a statute is ambiguous, "then we may apply the canons of ...


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