Submitted on Briefs: February 27, 2019
FROM: District Court of the Fourth Judicial District, In and
For the County of Missoula, Cause No. DV 17-965 Honorable
Karen Townsend, Presiding Judge.
Appellant: David M. Maldonado, Stevenson Law Office,
Appellee: Timothy C. Fox, Montana Attorney General, Tammy A.
Hinderman, Assistant Attorney General, Helena, Montana.
Kirsten Pabst, Missoula County Attorney, Mark Hardelnan,
Deputy County Attorney, Missoula, Montana.
Ryan Dean Indreland (Indreland) appeals from an order of the
Fourth Judicial District Court, Missoula County, denying his
petition to reinstate his driver's license after it was
suspended following his refusal to submit to a post-arrest
blood or breath test under § 61-8-402, MCA. We affirm
and address the following issue:
Did the District Court err by determining that the
arresting officer had reasonable grounds to believe Indreland
was driving under the influence?
AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
In September 2017, a woman called 911 to report a suspected
drunk driver operating a truck on a main road in Missoula.
She told the 911 operator the truck's license plate
number and explained that the truck had business decals,
specifically indicating the telephone number and website
address on the truck. The 911 operator inquired why the
caller believed the person was drunk, and the woman said the
driver almost rear-ended her sister, was swerving, and almost
ran into an underpass pillar. She stated that, when they
drove by the truck, the driver's head was hanging down
and it looked like he was sleeping. She declined to provide
her name or indicate that she would sign a complaint.
The same woman called 911 a few minutes later and spoke with
the same operator. The woman indicated that the driver had
pulled into a parking lot and parked behind a restaurant. She
said the driver was still sitting in the truck and identified
the truck as a silver Dodge Dakota. The woman again stated
that she did not wish to identify herself by name or sign a
complaint. The 911 operator told the woman that a Highway
Patrol Trooper was in the area looking for the truck. The
woman saw Trooper Panas pull into the parking lot, pulled her
car up to Trooper Panas's patrol vehicle, and had an
interaction with the Trooper that lasted approximately five
seconds during which she pointed out the offending truck.
Trooper Panas later testified that, when he pulled into the
parking lot, a female in a white SUV flagged him down,
described the truck driver's erratic driving, and pointed
out the truck. Trooper Panas noted that the truck was parked
crookedly, outside of the lines of two parking spaces, and
pulled up behind the truck. The truck matched the woman's
description as to type, color, license plate number, and
business decals. He noted the driver was just sitting in the
truck, not moving or indicating that he was going to get out.
Trooper Panas approached the truck and asked the driver to
roll down his window. When the driver eventually complied,
Trooper Panas immediately detected an odor of alcohol. He
also noted the driver paused a lot during their interaction,
seemed sluggish, had trouble finding documents, and had
bloodshot eyes. Trooper Panas eventually identified Indreland
as the driver, placed him under arrest for driving under the
influence, and asked him to submit to a breath or blood test.
Indreland refused the test. Because Indreland refused to
provide a breath or blood test, his license was suspended
pursuant to Montana's implied consent law, §
Indreland subsequently filed a petition to reinstate his
driver's license in District Court. He argued Trooper
Panas did not have sufficient particularized suspicion to
request Indreland submit to a test because the woman who
called 911 was not a reliable informant. The State argued the
woman was reliable and that her calls, coupled with Trooper
Panas's independent observations, amounted to sufficient
particularized suspicion to request the test. The District
Court ultimately agreed with the State, determining the woman
was a reliable informant. The District Court accordingly
determined that Trooper Panas had sufficient particularized
suspicion to request Indreland submit to testing under §
61-8-402, MCA, and denied Indreland's petition to
reinstate his driver's license. Indreland appeals.
We review a district court's ruling on a driver's
license reinstatement petition to determine whether the
district court's findings of fact are clearly erroneous
and whether its conclusions of law are correct. Brown v.
State, 2009 MT 64, ¶ 8, 349 Mont. 408, 203 P.3d
843. The suspension of a driver's license is presumed
correct and, accordingly, the petitioner bears the burden of
proving the suspension was improper. Brown, ¶
Title 61, chapter 8, part 4, MCA, criminalizes driving under
the influence of alcohol and drugs and also contains
Montana's implied consent laws. People who operate or who
are in actual physical control of vehicles on Montana's
public roadways are considered to have impliedly consented to
two types of tests: (1) a pre-arrest preliminary alcohol
screening test to estimate the person's alcohol
concentration; and (2) a post-arrest blood or breath test to
determine the presence of alcohol, drugs, or both. Sections
61-8-402, -409, MCA.
Regarding the first type of test-the pre-arrest preliminary
alcohol screening test- a person operating or in actual
physical control of a vehicle on Montana's public
roadways is considered to have consented to a preliminary
alcohol breath test. Section 61-8-409(1), MCA. An officer
having a particularized suspicion that the person was driving
or operating a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol
or in violation of §§ 61-8-410 or -465, MCA, may
request the driver take the test. Section 61-8-409(1), MCA.
The officer's suspicion must be particular to the
driver's operation of or control over a vehicle while
under the influence of alcohol. If an officer pulled a driver
over for a reason unrelated to concerns about driving under
the influence of alcohol but, upon interacting with the
driver, gained a particularized ...