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State v. Jeffries

State v. Jeffries, 2018 MT 17 (Feb. 6, 2018) (McKinnon, J.) (5-0, aff’d)

Issue: Whether the municipal court a used its discretion by denying Jeffries’ motion to exclude breath evidence.

Short Answer: No.

Affirmed

Facts: Jeffries was stopped by Missoula police early one morning while driving with no tail lights. Jeffries’ vehicle had a large portion of its front bumper missing, only one working headlight, and was dripping fluid. Investigation revealed recent property damage along Jeffries’ route with pieces of her vehicle left behind. The officer noticed Jeffries’ speech was slurred. Jeffries admitted to having two or three mixed drinks several hours earlier. A second police officer also noticed Jeffries’s speech was slurred and that her eyes were bloodshot, she was unsteady on her feet, and her breath smelled strongly of alcohol.…

State v. Nelson

State v. Nelson, 2017 MT 237 (Sept. 26, 2017) (Wheat, J.) (5-0, aff’d)

Issue: Whether the district court erred in denying Nelson’s motion to suppress.

Short Answer: No.

Affirmed

Facts: In July 2015, a waitress and a coworker called 911 to report a drunk person driving away from the restaurant where they worked. MHP Officer Burson was on patrol when he received the report from dispatch. Eleven minutes after the initial report, he located the vehicle in a hotel parking lot, where he observed it drive from the check-in area to a parking spot. The officer activated his lights and made contact with the driver, Nelson. After conducting a DUI investigation, he arrested Nelson for DUI.…

City of Missoula v. Tye

City of Missoula v. Tye, 2016 MT 153 (June 21, 2016) (Shea, J.) (5-0, aff’d)

Issue: Whether the district court erred in affirming the municipal court’s order denying Tye’s motion so suppress.

Short Answer: No.

Affirmed

Facts: A man called 911 at 1:37 am one night in May 2014 to report a drunk driver. He told the dispatcher where he was driving, what the car looked like, and what the driver was doing. He could not describe the driver because of the car’s tinted windows, and could not see the license plate. He gave his name and phone number, and said he could be contacted. He said he would possibly sign a complaint if necessary.

A Missoula police officer responded to the report, and passed a vehicle in the vicinity of the report that fit the description given.…

State v. Favel

State v. Favel, 2015 MT 336 (Dec. 2, 2015) (McKinnon, J.; McKinnon, J., specially concurring) (5-0, aff’d)

Issue: Whether the prosecution improperly commented on the statutory inference of intoxication under § 61-8-404(2) and asserted that Favel was responsible for establishing her innocence, thereby denying Favel her right to a fair and impartial trial.

Short Answer: No.

Affirmed

Facts: Havre police officer Sgt. Poulos stopped a car and identified Favel as the driver. Favel’s eyes were red and glassy, she was slurring her speech, and the officer smelled alcohol on her breath. Favel failed standard field sobriety tests, and refused a breath test. Eventually Poulos obtained a search warrant for Favel’s blood, which revealed a BAC of .13 percent.

The state charged Favel with felony DUI, fourth or subsequent offense.…

State v. Poitras

State v. Poitras, 2015 MT 287 (Oct. 6, 2015) (McKinnon, J.) (5-0, aff’d)

Issue: Whether the district court abused its discretion by concluding sufficient foundation existed to admit the result of Poitras’s breath test.

Short Answer: No.

Affirmed

Facts: Casey Poitras was arrested for DUI in May 2012, and submitted to a breath test on an Intoxilyzer 8000, which registered a BAC of .149%. Poitras moved to exclude the results, arguing the county’s two senior operators of the Intoxilyzer were not properly recertified. The state put in evidence that both operators had successfully competed their recertification exams in January 2012 and were issued new permits, but did not provide evidence of prior examinations. Poitras argued this evidence was necessary to show they were properly recertified in accordance with the rules.…

City of Missoula v. Sharp

City of Missoula v. Sharp, 2015 MT 289 (Oct. 6, 2015) (McGrath, C.J.) (6-0, aff’d)

Issue: Whether the officer had sufficient objective data to form particularized suspicion to justify the investigatory stop of Sharp.

Short Answer: Yes.

Affirmed

Facts: Officer Lloyd was parked in downtown Missoula one November night when he observed several vehicles stop at a stoplight, one of which was sharp’s pickup. The speed limit there is 25 mph. When the light turned green, Lloyd heard Sharp rev the engine and speed across the intersection, leaving the other cars behind. Lloyd turned into traffic and followed Sharp with his lights activated. Sharp stopped after a few blocks. Lloyd noticed Sharp slurring his speech, and was eventually charged with DUI after refusing to submit to a breath or alcohol test.…

State v. Thompson

State v. Thompson, 2015 MT 279 (Sept. 18, 2015) (McKinnon, J.; Wheat, J., dissenting) (4-1, aff’d)

Issue: Whether the justice court had good cause to conduct Thompson’s trial after the six-month deadline provided by statute.

Short Answer: Yes.

Affirmed

Facts: The state charged Thompson with DUI on Oct. 11, 2011, and that same day he pled not guilty in justice court. He appeared with counsel at the omnibus hearing Dec. 27, 2011, and requested a jury trial. The justice court set trial for March 22, 2012, with a pretrial conference March 16, 2012. The notice stated the defendant was required to personally attend the pretrial conference, and if he failed to do so he would be deemed to have waived his right to a jury trial, and jus trial date would be vacated and reset for a bench trial at the next available time.…

State v. Pinder

State v. Pinder, 2015 MT 157 (June 9, 2015) (Wheat, J.) (5-0, aff’d)

Issue: Whether 1,1-Difluorethane (DFE) is a drug such that driving under its influence is DUI.

Short Answer: Yes.

Affirmed

Facts: Taylor Pinder crashed a truck into a lamppost outside a motel in Butte. When police arrived, Pinder was exiting a bathroom in the motel dining room. He appeared intoxicated and was having difficulty standing, walking, speaking, or follow verbal commands. The officers called for an ambulance to take him to the hospital. Shortly, after, a motel employee have the officers a can of aerosol dust remover discovered in the bathroom Pinder had exited. The officers knew dust remover can be used as an inhalant.

At the hospital, Pinder was arrested for DUI.…

State v. Schwarzmeier

State v. Schwarzmeier, 2015 MT 98 (April 7, 2015) (McGrath, C.J.) (5-0, aff’d)

Issue: Whether admission of a crime lab report showing defendant’s blood alcohol content at .193% violated the Confrontation Clause.

Short Answer: No.

Affirmed 

Facts: Schwarzmeier crashed his motorcycle in July 2013. Trooper Fetterhoff responded, and Schwarzmeier was transported to the hospital, where Fetterhoff performed nystagmus tests, which indicated a high level of intoxication. Schwarzmeier consented to a blood draw, which was sent to the crime lab and showed a BAC of .193.

Schwarzmeier entered a not guilty plea and moved in limine to exclude any reports from the crime lab on the grounds that the state did not provide written notice of its intention to offer the report into evidence as required by M.R.…

State v. Levanger

State v. Levanger, 2015 MT 83 (Feb. 11, 2015) (McGrath, C.J.) (5-0, aff’d)

Issue: Whether lower court abused its discretion when it denied Levanger’s motion to exclude Intoxilyzer 8000 breath test results.

Short Answer: No.

Affirmed

Facts: Levanger was arrested for DUI and transported to county jail for breathalyzer test at 8:40 a.m. Approximately five minutes into the drive, officer stopped vehicle and checked Levanger’s mouth for substances. Intoxilyzer 8000 recommends subject refrain from oral ingestion of anything 20 minutes before test. Levanger had chewing tobacco, which officer asked him to spit out. Officer then asked Levanger to open his mouth and lift his tongue, but did not physically check Levanger’s mouth.

At 9:11 a.m., Levanger’s breath sample on Intoxilyzer 8000 indicated a BAC of .126.…