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Trentmann v. Director of Revenue

Court of Appeals of Missouri, Eastern District, Third Division

February 27, 2018

TROY N. TRENTMANN, Appellant,
v.
DIRECTOR OF REVENUE, STATE OF MISSOURI Respondent.

         Appeal from the Circuit Court of Franklin County Cause No. 15AB-AC02250 Honorable Stanley D. Williams

          GARY M. GAERTNER, JR., PRESIDING JUDGE.

         Introduction

         Troy N. Trentmann (Trentmann) appeals the trial court's judgment sustaining the revocation of Trentmann's driving privileges for refusing to consent to a breath test following an arrest for driving while intoxicated. Trentmann argues: (1) the trial court's finding that State Trooper Daniel Highly (Trooper Highly) had reasonable grounds to believe that Trentmann drove while intoxicated was against the weight of the evidence, and (2) the trial court erroneously applied the law by finding that Trooper Highly satisfied statutory requirements for requesting a breath test to determine the alcohol content of Trentmann's blood. We affirm.

         Background

         On November 26, 2015, at approximately 5:18 a.m., Trooper Highly received a dispatch call regarding a motor vehicle crash. At 5:54 a.m., Trooper Highly arrived at the scene of the crash and observed a silver Dodge Durango sitting on its roof. An ambulance was already on the scene. Trooper Highly asked emergency personnel where the driver of the vehicle was located, and they informed Trooper Highly that the driver was inside the ambulance. Upon entering the ambulance, Trooper Highly found Trentmann, who stated he had been the only person in the vehicle when it crashed.

         In observing Trentmann, Trooper Highly reported a moderate odor of intoxicants, watery and bloodshot eyes, and mumbled speech. Trooper Highly asked Trentmann what happened, and Trentmann stated, "[n]o idea." Trentmann admitted that he consumed alcohol "[l]ast night" and stated that he "woke up this morning to go home." Trooper Highly asked whether Trentmann woke up in the vehicle, and Trentmann responded, "[w]ell I woke up...I, I don't recall." Trooper Highly asked Trentmann when he stopped drinking the night before, and Trentmann responded, "Around seven o'clock." When asked how much he drank, he replied, "[n]ot a lot." After observing Trentmann's condition and responses, Trooper Highly asked Trentmann to consent to a Preliminary Breath Test (PBT). Trentmann responded, "I guess so." Trooper Highly asked whether the response indicated yes or no, to which Trentmann answered "[n]o." Trooper Highly asked to check Trentmann's eyes and to administer a PBT. Trentmann refused both requests.

         Upon Trentmann's refusal, Trooper Highly arrested Trentmann for driving while intoxicated and read Trentmann Missouri's implied consent law.[1] Subsequently, Trooper Highly asked Trentmann to submit to a breath test to check the alcohol content of his blood. Trentmann failed to respond, and Trooper Highly treated the silence as a refusal.

         Because Trentmann refused this breath test, the Director revoked Trentmann's driving privileges for one year pursuant to Section 577.041.[2] Trentmann filed a petition for review in the circuit court, and the circuit court entered judgment sustaining the Director's revocation. This appeal follows.

         Standard of Review

         This Court will affirm the trial court's judgment unless it is unsupported by substantial evidence, it is against the weight of the evidence, or it erroneously applies the law. Murphy v. Carron, 536 S.W.2d 30, 32 (Mo. banc 1976). In reviewing factual assessments, we defer to the trial court's findings. Sostman v. Dir. of Revenue, 363 S.W.3d 55, 57 (Mo. App. E.D. 2011). For legal inquiries, we review questions of law without deference to the trial court's judgment. Hampton v. Dir. of Revenue, 22 S.W.3d 217, 220 (Mo. App. W.D. 2000).

         Discussion

         Point I

         In his first point on appeal, Trentmann argues that the trial court's finding that Trooper Highly had probable cause to believe Trentmann drove while intoxicated ...


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