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City of Great Falls v. Allderdice

Supreme Court of Montana

March 14, 2017

CITY OF GREAT FALLS, Plaintiff and Appellee,
MAEMIE L. ALLDERDICE, Defendant and Appellant.

          Submitted on Briefs: February 1, 2017

         APPEAL FROM: District Court of the Eighth Judicial District, In and For the County of Cascade, Cause No. BDC-14-443 Honorable Julie Macek, Presiding Judge

          For Appellant: Chad Wright, Chief Appellate Defender, Chad R. Vanisko, Assistant Appellate Defender, Helena, Montana

          For Appellee: Timothy C. Fox, Montana Attorney General, Mardell Ployhar, Assistant Attorney General, Helena, Montana Sara Sexe, Great Falls City Attorney, Neil Arnie Anthon, Deputy City Attorney, Great Falls, Montana



         ¶1 Defendant Maemie Allderdice appeals an order of the Eighth Judicial District Court, Cascade County, affirming an order of the Municipal Court of Great Falls, denying her motion to suppress blood test results related to her Driving Under the Influence (DUI) charge and subsequent guilty plea. We address the following issue:

         Whether the Municipal Court erred by denying Allderdice's motion to suppress the blood test.

         ¶2 We affirm.


         ¶3 Around 2:08 a.m. on May 5, 2014, Great Falls Police Officer Eric Munkres responded to a report of a woman passed out in her running car in the Loaf and Jug parking lot. Allderdice was behind the wheel of the improperly parked car. Officer Munkres rapped on the driver's window several times. Each time, Allderdice would briefly look at him before again falling asleep. Officer Munkres called for assistance because he was concerned Allderdice may be having a medical emergency. Allderdice did not wake when another officer broke her passenger window. Officer Munkres was able to wake Allderdice by talking to her repeatedly once he had her driver's door open. Allderdice generally responded to Officer Munkres with a blank stare. When medical personnel assisted Allderdice out of the car, she became "somewhat combative" and resisted going with them to the hospital. Officer Munkres noticed the odor of alcohol on Allderdice when she was removed from the car.

         ¶4 Allderdice became more coherent at the hospital. Officer Munkres observed that Allderdice's eyes were "glossy, " her balance poor, her speech slurred, and she smelled of alcohol. Officer Munkres read Allderdice the Implied Consent Advisory, pausing after each section to ascertain whether she understood. She answered "Yes" after each section, and Officer Munkres then signed the Advisory. When Officer Munkres asked Allderdice if she was willing to take a blood test, she did not respond and closed her eyes. After repeating the question several more times with no response, and reiterating that if she refused the test that her license would be revoked for six months, Officer Munkres then directed medical staff to draw Allderdice's blood. The blood test indicated that Allderdice had a blood alcohol content of 0.239%. A separate blood sample drawn for medical purposes indicated Allderdice's blood alcohol content was 0.288%.

         ¶5 In the Municipal Court, Allderdice moved to suppress her blood test results, arguing that by remaining silent she did not voluntarily consent to the blood test. The City argued in response that Allderdice's consent was implied under the implied consent law and she had the burden to prove she withdrew her consent to the blood test. On August 19, 2014, the Municipal Court held a hearing on the motion to suppress, at which Officer Munkres testified. The Municipal Court denied Allderdice's motion, agreeing with the City that, under the implied consent law, drivers consent to a blood test unless they withdraw that consent. The Municipal Court found Allderdice took no action to signal a refusal, and therefore did not withdraw her consent by failing to respond to Officer Munkres.

         ¶6 Allderdice pleaded guilty to an amended charge of DUI per se, in violation of § 61-8-406, MCA. In her plea agreement, Allderdice reserved her right to appeal the denial of her motion to suppress. The Municipal Court sentenced Allderdice to six months in jail with all the time suspended. Allderdice appealed the Municipal Court's denial of the motion to suppress to the Eighth Judicial District Court, Cascade County. The District Court concluded that Allderdice consented to the blood draw pursuant to Montana's implied consent law, § 61-8-402(1), MCA, and that the Municipal Court did not err by finding that she did not withdraw that consent.

         STANDARDS ...

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