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Rounkles v. Levi

Supreme Court of North Dakota

May 27, 2015

Todd Jason Rounkles, Petitioner and Appellant
v.
Grant Levi, Director of the North Dakota Department of Transportation, Respondent and Appellee

Appeal from the District Court of Stark County, Southwest Judicial District, the Honorable William A. Herauf, Judge.

Thomas F. Murtha IV, Dickinson, ND, for petitioner and appellant.

Michael T. Pitcher, Office of the Attorney General, Bismarck, ND, for respondent and appellee.

Lisa Fair McEvers, Daniel J. Crothers, Dale V. Sandstrom, Carol Ronning Kapsner, Gerald W. VandeWalle, C.J.

OPINION

Page 911

McEvers, Justice.

[¶1] Todd Jason Rounkles appeals from a district court's judgment affirming a North Dakota Department of Transportation hearing officer's decision suspending his driving privileges for ninety-one days for driving under the influence. We affirm.

I

[¶2] A Stark County deputy sheriff stopped Rounkles' vehicle for failure to have an illuminated tail light. The deputy subsequently detected an odor of alcohol coming from the vehicle, and Rounkles admitted to drinking two beers that evening. Rounkles agreed to perform field sobriety testing, and the deputy sheriff administered the horizontal gaze nystagmus test. However, the results of this test were invalidated because of Rounkles' previous concussions. The deputy sheriff did not administer any other field sobriety tests because Rounkles stated he had " equilibrium problems." Rounkles was informed of the implied consent advisory and consented to a chemical test, which revealed Rounkles' alcohol concentration to be above the legal limit. Rounkles was arrested for driving while under the influence and was transported to the law enforcement center.

[¶3] At the law enforcement center, the deputy sheriff read Rounkles the implied consent advisory again, and Rounkles agreed to take a chemical breath test. The results of the breath test indicated a 0.101 alcohol concentration. Rounkles requested a hearing arguing the breath tests were warrantless searches. The North Dakota Department of Transportation hearing officer concluded Rounkles agreed to take both the onsite and the chemical breath tests, the chemical breath test was fairly administered, and the deputy sheriff had reasonable grounds to believe Rounkles had been driving under the influence. The hearing officer suspended Rounkles' driving privileges for ninety-one days. Rounkles petitioned for reconsideration of the hearing officer's decision. The hearing officer reviewed Rounkles' petition for reconsideration, but denied relief. On December 13, 2013, Rounkles filed a notice of appeal and specifications of error alleging three separate errors. In his specifications of error, Rounkles stated he " reserves the right to make additional specifications of error . . . ." On January 13, 2014, the district court issued a briefing schedule, noting Rounkles' brief was due on or before February 2, 2014. Without filing any motion or notice of motion, on February 6, 2014, Rounkles filed an amended specifications of error, which included four separate arguments. Rounkles also filed a motion to extend the briefing schedule, which was granted by the district court.

Page 912

The district court addressed all four arguments noted in the amended specifications of error in affirming the hearing officer's decision. Rounkles appealed to this Court.

II

[¶4] On appeal, Rounkles argues the hearing officer erred in its decision to suspend his driving privileges because 1) the breath tests were unconstitutional searches in violation of state and federal constitutions, 2) North Dakota's implied consent law violates the unconstitutional conditions doctrine, 3) without the results of the preliminary breath test, the deputy sheriff would not have had ...


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