A recent Missouri Court of Appeals Eastern District decision reversed and remanded the lower court by holding that a trial court erred in excluding the test result from evidence because the Director of Revenue laid a proper foundation for its admission.
The Department of Health and Senior Services regulation 19 CSR 25-30.051(4) requires annual certification of any breath alcohol simulator used to perform a maintenance check on an evidential breath analyzer. The Court went on to say that to lay a foundation for the admission of a breath test result at trial, the Director only need submit proof the simulator was certified at the time of the relevant maintenance check. In this case, that check was performed within 35 days prior to the Driver’s breath test. The Court said the Director does not have to submit proof of certification from any other year for purposes of admissibility.
The Director of Revenue had appealed from the judgment of the trial court reinstating the driving privileges of Justin Scott Hickenbotham. The Director argued on appeal that the trial court erred in reinstating the driver’s driving privileges because the court erred in excluding from evidence the breath test result showing Driver’s blood alcohol content exceeded the legal limit.
The opinion was written by Judges Sherri B. Sullivan and Roy L. Richter. Judge Colleen Dolan concurred. Rachel Jones was the attorney for Appellant. Attorneys for Respondent were Chastidy Dillon-Amelung and John F. Newsham. The case was Justin Scott Hickenbotham v. Department of Revenue.
The Court referenced several previous cases in its analysis and stated the following: “Sellenriek’s and Kern’s reasoning that the only relevant evidence is that which demonstrates compliance when the breath test was administered is still good law and applies in this case. See Harrell, 488 S.W.3d at 208. As with the maintenance check provision, implicit in 19 CSR 25-30.051(4) is that a breath analyzer simulator certified at the time of the relevant maintenance check is capable of accurately calibrating the breath analyzer. Carey v. Dir. of Rev., —- S.W.3d —- (Mo. App. E.D. March 28, 2017); see Sellenriek, 826 S.W.2d at 340. Nothing in the regulations suggests the accuracy of the simulator at the time of the maintenance check is dependent on the certification of the simulator in prior or subsequent years. See Sellenriek, 826 S.W.2d at 340; Harrell, 488 S.W.3d at 208. “The Director need not prove the existence of certifications before the one in effect at the time of the relevant maintenance check in order to comply with 19 CSR 25-30.051(4).” Carey, —- S.W.3d —-. Instead, a foundation for the admission of the breath test result is laid when the Director presents evidence the simulator was certified at the time of the relevant maintenance check. Harrell, 488 S.W.3d at 208.
“Evidence of whether the simulator was properly certified in prior or subsequent years
goes to the weight of the breath test result, not its admissibility. See Kern, 936 S.W.2d at 862. Furthermore, Driver’s interpretation of 19 CSR 25-30.051(4) would mean a simulator not certified in 2013 or any subsequent year is effectively unusable and fails to account for simulators brought into use any time after 2013, an illogical reading leading to irrational results.”
The Court went on to say that in the present case: “The Director laid a sufficient foundation for admission of the result of the breath test administered in 2015 by submitting the 2015 simulator certification. The Director’s point on appeal is granted. Because the court did not make a finding as to whether Trooper Ganime had probable cause to arrest Driver, the cause is remanded for additional findings by the trial court.”