Kummerfeldt v. State

Kummerfeldt v. State, 2015 MT 109 (April 21, 2015) (Rice, J.) (5-0, aff’d)

Issue: Whether the district court properly denied Kummerfeldt’s petition for reinstatement of his driver’s license.

Short Answer: Yes.

Affirmed

Facts: Kummerfeldt was stopped after a sheriff’s deputy observed him driving fast, crossing the centerline, and swerving. Seeing Kummerfeldt’s glassy, bloodshot eyes, the deputy asked Kummerfeldt to take a preliminary breath test. Kummerfeldt did not answer immediately, instead discussing it for almost 20 minutes. He eventually took the test, which reported a BAC of .232%. The deputy arrested Kummerfeldt and took him to the county jail, where he attempted to administer a breath test but could not because of incomplete testing equipment. He therefore requested Kummerfeldt to submit to a blood test, which Kummerfeldt refused, saying he did not want to get poked by needles. The deputy seized Kummerfeldt’s license for refusing the blood test.

Procedural Posture & Holding: Kummerfeldt petitioned to have his driver’s license reinstated. The district court held a hearing, and watched the in-car-camera video. It denied Kummerfeldt’s petition, concluding the deputy had reasonable grounds to stop Kummerfeldt, that Kummerfeldt’s refusal to take a blood test because of a fear of needles did not amount to a disability, and that Kummerfeldt was properly arrested. Kummerfeldt appeals, and the Supreme Court affirms.

Reasoning: Reasonable grounds for stopping a vehicle is equivalent to particularized suspicion. The video was ambiguous, but the district court found the deputy credible. The Court cannot conclude the district court clearly erred in finding the deputy had reasonable grounds to stop Kumerfeldt’s vehicle.