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State v. Beaver

Supreme Court of Montana

December 20, 2016

STATE OF MONTANA, Plaintiff and Appellee,
v.
JEFFREY DAVID BEAVER, Defendant and Appellant.

          Submitted on Briefs: November 16, 2016

         APPEAL FROM: District Court of the Ninth Judicial District, In and For the County of Teton, Cause No. DC-15-007 Honorable Robert G. Olson, Presiding Judge

          For Appellant Chad Wright, Chief Appellate Defender, Moses Okeyo, Assistant Appellate Defender, Helena, Montana

          For Appellee Timothy C. Fox, Montana Attorney General, Jonathan M. Krauss, Assistant Attorney General, Helena, Montana, Joe Coble, Teton County Attorney, Choteau, Montana

          Mike McGrath Chief Justice

         ¶1 Jeffrey David Beaver appeals from the District Court's Judgment & Sentence filed July 29, 2015, convicting him of aggravated driving under the influence, second offense. We affirm.

         ¶2 We restate the issue on appeal as follows:

Whether the District Court erred in upholding the stop and the ensuing warrantless inspection of Beaver's truck by an officer of the Montana Department of Transportation.

         FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         ¶3 On August 12, 2014, an officer of the Motor Carrier Services Division, Montana Department of Transportation (MDT), stopped Beaver's commercial freightliner vehicle in Teton County. After making the stop the officer detected the odor of alcohol and believed that Beaver was driving under the influence. He used a portable breath test (PBT) device and it showed that Beaver's breath alcohol concentration (BAC) was over 0.08. He also found alcoholic beverage bottles and cans in the vehicle.

         ¶4 The MDT officer called the Montana State Highway Patrol for assistance. A highway patrolman arrived and conducted field sobriety tests that indicated that Beaver could be impaired. A second PBT administered by the patrolman showed a BAC over 0.160. Beaver refused a blood test, and the patrolman obtained a search warrant for a blood sample. That sample registered a BAC of 0.239. The State charged Beaver with driving under the influence and several other misdemeanor offenses.

         ¶5 The Teton County Justice Court conducted a bench trial in January 2015. At the conclusion of the trial the Justice of the Peace found Beaver guilty of aggravated driving under the influence with a BAC of 0.239 under § 61-8-465, MCA. The Justice of the Peace imposed a fine and a sentence of a year in the county jail with all but seven days suspended.

         ¶6 Beaver appealed to District Court and moved to suppress the evidence gathered after the MDT officer stopped his vehicle. The District Court denied the motion, citing a prior order of the Teton County District Court in State v. Valline, Cause No. DA-10-021. Beaver entered a guilty plea to the DUI charge, reserving the right to appeal denial of the motion to suppress.[1] The District ...


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