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Srader v. Director of Revenue

Court of Appeals of Missouri, Western District, Second Division

August 22, 2017

BRIAN CHARLES SRADER, Respondent,
v.
DIRECTOR OF REVENUE, Appellant.

         Appeal from the Circuit Court of Jackson County The Honorable Robert L. Trout, Judge

          Before Cynthia L. Martin, P.J., and Lisa White Hardwick and Alok Ahuja, JJ.

          Alok Ahuja, Judge.

         The Director of Revenue suspended Brian Srader's driving privileges following his arrest for driving while intoxicated. Srader petitioned for a trial de novo in the Circuit Court of Jackson County. The circuit court set aside Srader's suspension, on the basis that the arresting officer lacked probable cause to believe that Srader had committed the offense of driving while intoxicated. The Director appeals. We reverse.

         Factual Background

         Although the circuit court concluded that the arresting officer lacked probable cause, its judgment expressly finds that "[t]he evidence adduced by the Director was credible." We accordingly recite the facts as established by the Director's evidence.

         On February 15, 2015, Officer Erich Mohler of the Blue Springs Police Department was on patrol when he observed a vehicle traveling southbound on Missouri Highway 7. Srader was driving the car. Officer Mohler's attention was initially drawn to Srader's vehicle because he was unable to determine whether or not its rear lights were illuminated. He followed Srader's car and determined that there was black paint on the rear lights which reduced the visibility of the lights to less than 500 feet.

         Officer Mohler followed the vehicle for another mile and observed it crossing over halfway into the left turn lane without signaling a turn. The car continued to straddle the left turn lane and the left through lane. After passing through an intersection as the light turned yellow, Srader signaled a lane change back into the right lane. The car's passenger-side wheels crossed over the fog line as the vehicle moved back into the right lane, and then continued to weave within the right lane. At that point, Officer Mohler conducted a traffic stop.

         Officer Mohler approached the vehicle and obtained Srader's driver's license. Officer Mohler asked Srader if he had anything to drink that evening. Srader responded that he had not. Srader told Officer Mohler that we was coming from his home in Independence, to pick up a friend at a bar and restaurant known as Side Pockets. Officer Mohler testified that the fact that Srader had been traveling westbound on Vesper Street before turning south on Highway 7 indicated that he was not coming from anywhere near Independence.

         Additionally, Officer Mohler testified that Srader's speech seemed slurred, and that his eyes were bloodshot, glassy, and watery.

         Officer Mohler asked Srader to submit to a preliminary breath test, and Srader agreed. The preliminary breath test indicated the presence of alcohol. After seeing the result, Srader told Officer Mohler that he did have one twelve-ounce beer with a friend about an hour before being stopped.[1]

         At this point, Officer Mohler placed Srader under arrest for careless driving and driving while intoxicated.

         After arresting Srader and placing him in the patrol car, Officer Mohler detected a moderate odor of alcohol on Srader's breath. When he mentioned this to Srader, Srader admitted to drinking three beers that night.

         Srader performed poorly on three different field sobriety tests at the police station.[2] Srader submitted to a breath test which ...


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