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State v. Lukins

Supreme Court of Iowa

May 16, 2014

STATE OF IOWA, Appellee,

Page 903

On review from the Iowa Court of Appeals. Appeal from the Iowa District Court for O'Brien County, Charles K. Borth, Judge. The State seeks further review of a court of appeals decision reversing a district court's denial of a motion to suppress evidence of Breathalyzer-test results.


David R. Johnson of Brinton, Bordwell & Johnson, Clarion, for appellant.

Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, Jean C. Pettinger, Assistant Attorney General, and Micah J. Schreurs, County Attorney, for appellee.

ZAGER, Justice. All justices concur except Waterman, J., Cady, C.J., and Mansfield, J., who dissent.


Page 904

ZAGER, Justice.

Tony Lukins was arrested for operating while intoxicated. After registering a .207 on a breath test at the O'Brien County jail, Lukins made several statements to the arresting officer indicating his desire to retake the breath test. After a great deal of discussion, the officer denied Lukins's request. Prior to trial, Lukins moved to suppress the breath-test result arguing suppression was required because he had been denied his statutory right to an independent chemical test. The district court denied Lukins's motion, and after a bench trial on the minutes of testimony, it convicted Lukins of operating while intoxicated, second offense. Lukins appealed, and we transferred the case to the court of appeals. The court of appeals reversed his conviction, holding the district court erred in denying his motion to suppress. The State sought further review, which we granted. For the reasons set forth below, we affirm the decision of the court of appeals and reverse the judgment of the district court.

I. Background Facts and Proceedings.

Around 1:40 a.m. on February 9, 2012, Chief of Police Timothy Rohrbaugh witnessed a black pickup truck run a stop sign in Sutherland, Iowa. After following the truck a short distance, Rohrbaugh turned on his police cruiser's flashing lights. The truck did not stop. Rohrbaugh pursued the truck onto a highway, where the truck reached speeds of more than eighty miles per hour. At one point, the truck was jerked back onto the pavement after veering into a ditch. After the truck was straightened, it travelled a short distance and came to a stop.

Rohrbaugh went to the truck and immediately suspected the driver had been drinking. He smelled alcohol and noticed the driver had slurred speech and a bloody chin. The driver, Tony Lukins, stated he " had a few of beers at the bar."

After being requested by Rohrbaugh to perform field sobriety tests, Lukins agreed to do so. After completing three of the four field sobriety tests, Rohrbaugh asked Lukins to get into his squad car. While Rohrbaugh removed items from off the front passenger seat, Lukins stumbled and fell down into the ditch beside the road. After Lukins got into the squad car, Rohrbaugh conducted a preliminary breath test. After confirming the preliminary breath test indicated Lukins's blood alcohol content was above the legal limit, Rohrbaugh arrested him for operating while intoxicated and transported him to the county jail in Primghar, Iowa.

At the jail, Rohrbaugh read Lukins the implied consent advisory and requested Lukins consent to a Breathalyzer test. Lukins, who was bleeding from a cut on his chin, consented to the Breathalyzer test. The Datamaster result of the Breathalyzer test was .207, over the legal limit of .08. After Rohrbaugh informed Lukins of this result, the following conversation was captured by the jail's security cameras:

LUKINS: I don't mean to be an a** or anything, but can I get a re-check, or anything . . . ?

Page 905

LUKINS: . . . the way I'm bleeding . . . .
ROHRBAUGH: A rain check?
LUKINS: A re-check. You know, with this blood and that.
ROHRBAUGH: You want your blood checked?
LUKINS (looking at and gesturing toward the Breathalyzer machine): No, can I get a re-check?
ROHRBAUGH (tapping the breath-test machine): A re-check of this?
ROHRBAUGH: And what's the blood gonna make it different, or . . . ?
LUKINS: I don't know. I'm just . . . I didn't know I was bleeding this f***ing bad until you pulled me over and I looked at my hand.
ROHRBAUGH: I don't think we need to do another check because I don't think the blood or the bleeding had anything to do with your breath.
LUKINS: Well, no, I just was . . . I don't know what the heck to really check, to tell you the truth.
After Rohrbaugh read Lukins advisories about the revocation of his driver's license, Lukins returned to the issue of the test:
LUKINS: Can I ask for a re-blow, by the way?
ROHRBAUGH: It isn't going to be any different.
LUKINS: That seems really f***ing high. For four f***ing beers that seems . . . or, actually, I'm sorry, a six pack, that seems really high.
. . . .
LUKINS: Can I get a re-blow please, Rohrbaugh?
ROHRBAUGH: It isn't going to be any ...

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