Wrong jurisdiction argument fails in DWI case

A Missouri man loses appeal of his license revocation after arguing that the officer, who was outside his county and jurisdiction when he demanded a chemical test, was not legally an officer per statutory requirement to make an arrest for his refusal.

The man had refused a DWI chemical test after the arresting deputy officer visited him in a hospital outside his county. Appellate argued that his situation was similar to a criminal case that would prohibit an arrest outside of an officer’s jurisdiction. However, the Western District Court of Appeals stated that such fresh pursuit doctrine only applies to a criminal case, not a civil driver’s license revocation case by the Department of Revenue. In the end, the court rejected his appeal, and the revocation of his driver’s license was upheld.

The man also had raised a second question on appeal about whether his account of what happened that he gave the officer upon being stopped could be used as evidence of the man’s intoxication while driving.  He argued that the trialcourt erred in finding there were reasonable grounds to believe that he was driving a motor vehicle while in an intoxicated condition.


An officer of the Clinton County Sheriff’s Office received a dispatch about a single-vehicle accident with injuries in Clinton County. When the deputy arrived at the scene, he found Appellant’s vehicle appeared to have a struck a tree. Firefighters at the scene informed Deputy that the driver of the vehicle was in an ambulance at the Fire Department. At the Fire Department, fire and EMT personnel informed Deputy that Appellant’s mother had brought him to the department, telling them that her son had been in an accident. They further informed the deputy that Appellant had lacerations on his head, that they were going to transport him to Liberty Hospital in Clay County to check for possible internal head injuries, and that they believed he had been drinking because of the smell of alcohol from his breath.

Deputy contacted Appellant in the back of the ambulance. The deputy could smell a moderate odor of intoxicating beverage coming from him. He asked Appellant what had happened. Appellant told him that he had been in a vehicle accident. He asked Appellant what caused him to wreck his vehicle, and Appellant told him that he had a sneezing fit causing him to look away from the road and that he hit a spot on the gravel road causing his vehicle to “shoot” off the roadway. Deputy asked Appellant if he had consumed any intoxicating beverages, and Appellant responded that he had had “a couple beers.”  When the deputy asked him to be more specific, Appellant said “about three beers.” The deputy then asked when he had started drinking, and Appellant said “after he got off work, at approximately [3:00 p.m.]” Appellant also told the deputy that he stopped drinking “about four hours ago” and that he had been in the back of the ambulance “for a couple hours.”

Deputy asked Appellant where he had consumed the alcohol, and Appellant said that he was drinking in his car. Appellant also told the deputy that he has a drinking problem and that he has been trying to get it under control. Finally, Appellant told Deputy that after he wrecked his car, he left the scene on foot and went to his parent’s house and that his family then took him to the Holt Fire Department.

The Deputy performed the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus, to which he detected all six clues of intoxication. He observed Appellant’s eyes to be watery, bloodshot, and glassy. He had Appellant sent to a hospital in Clay County which was located outside of his jurisdiction. Deputy returned to the scene where he found beer cans and beer boxes on the ground outside the vehicle. On the inside of the vehicle, he found three beer boxes—one on the front passenger seat and two in the back seat. He saw two crushed cans stuffed between the passenger seat and middle console.

When at the hospital, Appellant refused to submit to a chemical test.

Deputy issued Appellant a revocation notice for his refusal to submit to the alcohol test and requested an attorney. Appellant was discharged from the hospital and placed into custody for driving while intoxicated and leaving the scene of an accident.  Appellant would later file a petition for review of the revocation of his driver’s license.


As to the first point on appeal, it was neither disputed that the arresting deputy was employed as a deputy sheriff in Clinton County, nor was it disputed that he had the power and duty to make arrests for state law violations.

Although the fresh pursuit doctrine applies to criminal procedure law, the fact that the deputy requested that Appellant submit to a chemical test outside of his jurisdiction in Clay County did not prevent the Director of Revenue from revoking Appellant’s driver’s license.  The Appellate Court cited Mason v. Dir. of Revenue, 321 S.W.3d 426, 428-29 (Mo. App. S.D. 2010). In that case, the appellate had argued there was no lawful arrest because as in this case the arresting officer was outside of his jurisdiction.  The Southern District in the Mason case determined that the trial court erred in concluding a lawful arrest was even required in the refusal case. 

The Appellate Court in this case stated: “As in Sterneker, Jennings, and Mason, nothing in sections 302.574, 577.041, or 577.020 requires compliance with criminal procedural law regarding jurisdiction and fresh pursuit. Like cases under sections 302.500 to 302.540 (revocation or suspension of a license for driving with a BAC in excess of the legal limits), cases under section 302.574 are administrative law cases, not criminal cases, and the General Assembly is free to set the boundaries and procedures for them.”

The second point on appeal in this case also was denied. The Appellate Court pointed to numerous facts to show that the trial court did not err in determining that the Director of Revenue presented sufficient evidence that the Deputy had reasonable grounds to believe the Appellant was driving while intoxicated.

  • Appellant’s vehicle was found on the side of a straight, dry, gravel road during the day, crashed into a tree.
  • Appellant admitted he had been driving, wrecked his car, and drank three beers.
  • Gave contradictory statements regarding when he stopped drinking.
  • Stated to the Deputy that after the accident, he walked to his parents’ house and did not indicate that he remained at the scene.
  • Beer cans and boxes were found at the accident scene.
  • Deputy observed Appellant’s eyes were watery, bloodshot, and glassy and his speech was slurred and confused.
  • Appellant had a moderate odor of intoxicating beverage coming from him.
  • Appellant showed all six clues of intoxication on the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus minutes after the accident.

The Western District opinion was written by Thomas N. Chapman, Presiding Judge.

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