The Missouri Supreme Court upheld an appeals court decision challenging admissibility of breath test results and notice requirements in a driving license suspension case.
The high court handed down the decision Wednesday, March 20, in the case of Matthew M. Carvalho v. Director of Revenue.
The case is an appeal from Franklin County involving a challenge to the admissibility of breath-test results and notice requirements in a driving license suspension.
On March 21, 2018, 20th District Associate Circuit Judge Stan Williams ruled against Carvalho, upholding the suspension of his driving privilege. Carvalho filed an appeal April 2, 2018.
The Supreme Court argued the case Nov. 28, 2018.
According to the Supreme Court docket summaries, a Washington police officer arrested Carvalho May 10, 2017, for suspicion of driving while intoxicated.
At the police station, the officer asked Carvalho to submit to a breath test. Carvalho initially declined but, after learning he automatically would lose his driving privileges for a year for refusing the test and speaking with an attorney, he consented.
The test revealed his blood alcohol content was 0.087, which exceeded the legal limit. The officer seized Carvalho’s driving license and gave him a notice of suspension. Following an administrative review, a department of revenue hearing officer sustained the suspension. He appealed to the circuit court, which sustained the suspension.
This appeal presents two questions for the court. One is whether the circuit court should have admitted the results of the breath test into evidence. Related issues involve whether the director of revenue is required to file reports showing periodic maintenance of the breath analyzer used in the test before the results of the test can be admitted into evidence and, if so, whether such a report was filed in a timely manner in accordance with a state regulation.
The other question is whether the statutory notice requirements regarding the implied consent warning and notice of suspension violated Carvalho’s constitutional right to procedural due process.
The unanimous decision written by Judge Laura Denvir Stith affirms the circuit court’s judgment.
The decision states that the circuit court did not err in admitting the report showing the driver’s blood alcohol content (BAC) was .087 percent, over the legal limit. Admissibility of the report is “not dependent on collateral recordkeeping requirements” that do not affect the test’s performance, validity or accuracy.
Moreover, the driver consented to a breath test by driving on Missouri roads, and due process did not require the officer to remind the driver of the consequences of taking the test. The written notice given as to the driver’s hearing rights also was adequate, according to the decision.