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State v. Anderson

Court of Appeals of Minnesota

June 17, 2019

State of Minnesota, Respondent,
v.
Steven Jeffrey Anderson, Appellant.

          Anoka County District Court File No. 02-CR-17-5003

          Keith Ellison, Attorney General, St. Paul, Minnesota; and Kurt B. Glaser, Lexington City Attorney, Catherine A. Crane, Assistant City Attorney, Smith & Glaser, LLC, Minneapolis, Minnesota (for respondent)

          Paul P. Sarratori, Mesenbourg & Sarratori Law Offices, P.A., Coon Rapids, Minnesota (for appellant)

          Considered and decided by Bratvold, Presiding Judge; Rodenberg, Judge; and Reilly, Judge.

         SYLLABUS

         A driver's license revocation is "present" for the purposes of enhancing a criminal violation of the driving while impaired laws under Minnesota Statutes section 169A when the license revocation is effective, which occurs when the driver receives notice of the license revocation.

          OPINION

          BRATVOLD, JUDGE

         Appellant Steven Jeffrey Anderson challenges his judgment of conviction of second-degree driving while impaired (DWI), under Minn. Stat. § 169A.25, subd. 1(b) (2016), which required the state to prove one aggravating factor in addition to proving that Anderson refused to submit to chemical testing under Minn. Stat. § 169A.20, subd. 2 (2016). Anderson argues that his DWI conviction must be overturned for two reasons. First, Anderson contends that the district court erred in denying his probable-cause challenge to the complaint because his prior license revocation does not satisfy the aggravating-factor element for second-degree DWI. He argues the relevant DWI statute requires that, to be used as an aggravating factor, his prior license revocation must be "present" at the time that the current DWI "violation was committed." Minn. Stat. § 169A.25, subd. 1(b). Second, Anderson argues that his prior license revocation was not present because his revocation was pending judicial review at the time he committed the DWI violation, therefore, his due-process rights were violated.

         We conclude that Anderson's prior license revocation was effective at the time the commissioner notified him of the revocation in October 2016, and, therefore, the prior license revocation was present at the time of his DWI offense. And because Anderson had an opportunity for judicial review of his prior license revocation before the state served him with the DWI complaint, Anderson's due-process rights were not violated. Thus, we affirm.

         FACTS

         Law enforcement arrested Anderson for DWI on two separate dates in late 2016. The first arrest occurred on October 2, 2016 (2016 license revocation). About a week after the arrest, the commissioner of public safety notified Anderson that it had administratively revoked his license under Minnesota's implied-consent law for one year. No criminal charges resulted from this arrest. Anderson timely filed a petition for judicial review of the 2016 license revocation. In April 2017, Anderson waived his right to further judicial review of the 2016 license revocation at a hearing and the district court sustained the revocation.

         The second arrest occurred on Sunday, December 18, 2016 (2016 DWI). Two officers in a marked squad car were on patrol on Restwood Road in the City of Lexington when a male flagged them down and informed them that Anderson "was drunk and about to leave" a bar in the area. The male described Anderson's car as a silver Mercedes and told the officers where the car was parked. The officers found the Mercedes, checked its license plate, and learned that its registered owner was Anderson, who had a limited license that prohibited him from driving on Sundays.

         The officers parked under a streetlight outside the bar and soon observed a man exit the bar and enter the Mercedes. When the Mercedes drove past them, one of the officers noted that the front windows were "almost completely black" and he "could not see into the cabin at all." Based on his experience, the officer believed that the front windows were illegally tinted. After following the vehicle, the officer also noticed that Anderson's rear license plate lights were "very dim." The officers activated their emergency lights to initiate a traffic stop, and the Mercedes "stop[ped] in the middle of the road" before pulling over to the shoulder.

         The officers approached the Mercedes, identified Anderson, and noted that he had "bloodshot, watery" eyes and a strong odor of alcohol on his breath. The officers informed Anderson that he was violating the terms of his limited license. Anderson initially denied "drinking anything" but later admitted that he had "a few beers." The officers asked Anderson to perform field sobriety tests, which he agreed to and performed poorly. The officers then administered a preliminary breath test, but Anderson failed to provide a proper sample.

         The officers arrested Anderson, transported him to the Centennial Lakes Police Department, and read him the implied-consent advisory. After making a phone call, Anderson agreed to take a breath test, but blew "around the mouthpiece" and otherwise prevented officers from obtaining a proper sample, which the officers deemed to be a refusal. Anderson's license "was again revoked-this time for two years."

         The state did not charge Anderson until August 7, 2017-about four months after he waived judicial review. The state served Anderson with a complaint that had two DWI counts: count one was for second-degree DWI (test refusal) under Minn. Stat. § 169A.25, subd. 1(b), and count two was for third-degree DWI (operating motor vehicle while impaired) under Minn. Stat. § 169A.26, subd. 1(a) (2016).[1] Each count alleged as the aggravating factor Anderson's 2016 license revocation.

         Anderson moved to dismiss counts one and two, arguing that the state lacked probable cause because there was "insufficient evidence" to prove enhancement of the offense. Anderson also contended that the state had violated his due-process rights by using the 2016 license revocation as an ...


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