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Ives v. Commissioner of Motor Vehicles

Appellate Court of Connecticut

September 10, 2019

Robert P. IVES

         Argued February 13, 2019

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[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

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         Superior Court in the judicial district of New Britain and tried to the court, Gleeson, J.

          Christopher Thompson, with whom was Gregory Thompson, for the appellant (plaintiff).

         Christine Jean-Louis, assistant attorney general, with whom, on the brief, was George Jepson, former attorney general, for the appellee (defendant).

         Sheldon, Elgo and Lavery, Js.[*]


         ELGO, J.

         [192 Conn.App. 589] The plaintiff, Robert P. Ives, appeals from the judgment of the trial court rendered in favor of the defendant, the Commissioner of Motor Vehicles (commissioner), dismissing his appeal from the decision of the commissioner to suspend his motor vehicle operator’s license, pursuant to General Statutes (Rev. to 2015) § 14-227b,[1] for forty-five days and to require that he install and maintain an ignition interlock device in his motor vehicle for six months.[2] On appeal, the plaintiff claims that (1) the court erred in concluding that, in light of a 2009 amendment to § 14-227b (j), blood test [192 Conn.App. 590] results need not satisfy the conditions for admissibility and competence set forth in General Statutes § 14-227a (k) to be admissible in an administrative license suspension hearing, and (2) the introduction of blood test results derived from his blood sample without satisfying the admissibility conditions set forth in § 14-227a (k) is unconstitutional. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.

          The following facts, as set forth in the trial court’s order rendering a judgment of dismissal, and procedural history are relevant to our resolution of this appeal. "On April 4, 2016, at about 8:30 p.m., the Southington Police Department responded

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to a complaint about a motor vehicle in a ditch. The complainant had reported that the operator of the vehicle smelled of alcohol. Officer [Ryan] Lair found the plaintiff’s vehicle off of the roadway in a ditch near a damaged guardrail. He observed the plaintiff to be unsteady on his feet and saw him fall to the ground, losing a sneaker in the process. The plaintiff did not replace his sneaker upon standing and gave Officer Lair a blank stare. As the plaintiff was having trouble standing up on his own, Officer Lair assisted the plaintiff so that he would not fall again. During their conversation, the plaintiff’s speech was slurred and mumbling. Officer Lair observed that the plaintiff’s eyes were glassy and bloodshot and he smelled the odor of alcohol on [the] plaintiff’s breath. In plain view in [the] plaintiff’s vehicle was an almost empty 375 [milliliter] Jägermeister bottle as well as several unopened [twelve ounce] beers. [The] [p]laintiff stated that ‘he drank way too much tonight’ and admitted to driving.

          "[The] [p]laintiff’s belligerence with the paramedics who arrived to examine him was witnessed by fire department personnel. The paramedics and fire personnel informed Officer Lair that the plaintiff ‘appeared and smelled as if he was intoxicated.’ [The] [p]laintiff [192 Conn.App. 591] was taken to a parking lot so that standard field sobriety tests could be administered by Lair and Officer [Jonathan] Lopa, but while there [the] plaintiff appeared to be dazed and continued to slur his speech and mumble. [The] [p]laintiff denied that he was a diabetic, but a blood sugar test administered by a paramedic resulted in a ‘borderline’ number. [The] [p]laintiff at some point returned himself to the police cruiser and closed the door. When asked by Officer Lopa whether he had taken anything that night, [the] plaintiff became upset and agitated, exited the police cruiser, and physically assaulted Lopa. The officers then took the plaintiff down to the ground, which resulted in a small cut to [the] plaintiff’s chin, as well as damage to the cruiser. As [the] plaintiff appeared to be incapacitated and blank faced, he was placed in the ambulance, whereupon he licked the female paramedic. [The] [p]laintiff was transported to Bradley Memorial Hospital for evaluation. Upon arrival, [the] plaintiff struck a male paramedic in the chest with his fist, after which both of his arms were handcuffed to his hospital bed. [The] [o]fficers learned that [the] plaintiff had struck both paramedics during the transport, one of whom had to sit on the plaintiff to control him. Hospital records indicate that [the] plaintiff was admitted because of [an] ‘altered mental status,’ and [the] plaintiff’s violent and bizarre behavior continued while hospitalized. [The] [p]laintiff tried to bite a nurse technician, and repeatedly tried to bite his handcuffs off and to bite his IV line. [The] [p]laintiff intermittently displayed a confused affect, repeatedly swore at police and hospital staff, and made obscene suggestions and lascivious displays. Officer Lair was informed by Dr. Richard Steinmark that [the] plaintiff’s blood would be drawn by medical staff in the course of their normal medical duties. [The] [p]laintiff’s blood was so drawn and he was given medical treatment by hospital staff before being discharged.

         [192 Conn.App. 592] "On April 28, 2016, Officer Lair sought and obtained a search and seizure warrant for [the] plaintiff’s medical records, including toxicology results. Said toxicology results revealed a blood alcohol level that converted to 0.31, more than three times the legal limit. [The] [p]laintiff was arrested by warrant on May 27, 2016, for operating under the influence." Subsequently, the commissioner issued a notice advising the ...

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