Appeal from the District Court of Stutsman County, Southeast Judicial District, the Honorable John T. Paulson, Judge.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Sandstrom, Justice.
This opinion is subject to petition for rehearing. [Go to Documents] [Download as WordPerfect]
Opinion of the Court by Sandstrom, Justice.
[¶1] Randy Tompkins appeals from the district court's judgment entered after he conditionally pled guilty to driving under the influence, reserving the right to appeal the court's order denying his motion to suppress evidence. We affirm the criminal judgment, concluding the State did not impermissibly interfere with the independent blood test that he requested and received.
[¶2] Tompkins was arrested and charged with driving under the influence in October 2009. On the day Tompkins' jury trial was set to begin, he argued to the district court that the results of both the State-administered breath test and his independent blood test should be suppressed. The court agreed the blood test should be suppressed, but refused to exclude the results of the breath test. Tompkins conditionally pled guilty to driving under the influence. Testimony was then taken from Tompkins and other witnesses to develop the record for appeal.
[¶3] According to Tompkins, he was stopped by a North Dakota Highway Patrol officer for an alleged problem with his muffler. The officer conducted various field sobriety tests during the course of the stop. Following these tests, Tompkins was placed under arrest and taken to the Jamestown law enforcement center, where a breath test was administered. The test reflected Tompkins' blood-alcohol content exceeded the legal limit.
[¶4] While at the law enforcement center, Tompkins requested a blood test. The officer testified he explained to Tompkins that one could be obtained at his own expense, but would be in addition to a breath test. The officer also testified he drove Tompkins to the Jamestown Hospital and called while en route to inform the hospital staff that he was bringing an individual in for an independent blood test. He remained present with Tompkins while the blood draw occurred.
[¶5] The nurse who performed the blood draw used the State Crime Lab kit, which she testified is used at the Jamestown Hospital for all tests that may be introduced in court. The blood sample was sent to the State Crime Lab for analysis, which the nurse stated was routine procedure for all tests drawn for legal, rather than personal medical, purposes. The blood submission form noted that Tompkins had been arrested by "NDHP" and that the test was requested by the patient. The blood sample was analyzed by the State Crime Lab, and the results were returned to the Jamestown Hospital. The Stutsman County State's Attorney's Office also requested and received a copy of the test results from the State Crime Lab.
[¶6] Tompkins argued at the district court that the State impermissibly interfered with his right to an independent blood test. First, he alleged the officer did not sufficiently explain to him that he had the right to choose his clinic and physician. Second, Tompkins contended the officer interfered with the test by not intervening when the nurse used the State Crime Lab kit to perform the blood draw. Third, he argued the involvement of the State Crime Lab and the mailing of the results to the State's Attorney's Office constituted improper State interference. On the basis of these alleged violations, Tompkins contended the blood test results should be suppressed along with the results of the State-administered breath test. The district court partially agreed, stating in its written order that "there was too much government involvement in the Defendant's efforts to obtain an independent blood test and . . . the Defendant was denied his right and opportunity to obtain an independent blood test . . ...