We have yet another case where a driver who admits to having driven the car he was found parked in and visibly intoxicated is trying to argue that there was insufficient proof that he had used a public roadway; therefore, there was no implied consent to chemical testing.
Why is implied consent important? Refusal to submit to chemical testing is not valid for the purposes of revoking a driver’s license unless the driver has impliedly consented to chemical testing. Pursuant to section 577.020, consent to submit to chemical testing cannot be implied unless the evidence supports an inference that a driver operated a vehicle on the public highways in Missouri.
The defendant’s argument before the Western District Court of Appeals essentially was that refusal to submit to a chemical test is not valid unless it is established that a driver impliedly consented to submit to chemical testing by “operat[ing] a vehicle upon the public highways of this state” as provided in section 577.020.1(1). The appellate court stated that no Missouri case has directly addressed whether a valid refusal to submit requires proof that the driver was or had operated a vehicle upon the state’s public highways. However, the appellate court stated there were two Missouri cases that indirectly addressed the subject.
Ultimately the appellate court reasoned that the implied consent was given upon filling out an application for a license and the subsequent issuing of the license to the driver. Furthermore, if that were not enough, there was sufficient evidence on the record to show that the defendant had been using public roads.
The defendant was found in the driver’s seat of a running vehicle which was parked in the parking lot of a fast-food restaurant. The vehicle was registered to the Defendant, and the Defendant was the vehicle’s only occupant. The Defendant also told the responding officer he arrived at the Taco Bell from his home. The appellate court found based on these reasons that there was enough evidence of implied consent and that the Director of Revenue’s decision would be affirmed.
The appeal was heard in the Western District by Judges Zel M. Fischer, Cynthia L. Martin, and Gary D. Witt. Martin wrote the opinion.