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State v. Hosaka

Intermediate Court of Appeals of Hawaii

May 17, 2019

STATE OF HAWAI'I, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
TROY HOSAKA, Defendant-Appellee

          APPEAL FROM THE CIRCUIT COURT OF THE FIRST CIRCUIT (CR. NO. 16-1-0057)

          Brian R. Vincent, Deputy Prosecuting Attorney, City and County of Honolulu, for Plaintiff-Appellant.

          Howard K.K. Luke, for Defendant-Appellee.

          LEONARD, PRESIDING JUDGE, REIFURTH AND CHAN, JJ.

          OPINION

          CHAN, J.

         Plaintiff-Appellant State of Hawai'i (State) appeals from the Findings of Fact; Conclusions of Law and Order Granting Defendant's Motion to Suppress Breath Test (Order Granting Motion to Suppress), filed on September 26, 2016, in the Circuit Court of the First Circuit (circuit court), [1]

         I. BACKGROUND

         On January 11, 2016, Defendant-Appellee Troy Hosaka (Hosaka) was arrested by a Honolulu Police Department (HPD) officer for the offenses of Habitually Operating a Vehicle Under the Influence of an Intoxicant (Habitual OVUII), in violation of Hawaii Revised Statutes (HRS) § 291E-61.5 (Supp. 2016), and Operating a Vehicle After License and Privilege Have Been Suspended or Revoked for Operating a Vehicle Under the Influence of an Intoxicant (Operating Vehicle After License Suspended/Revoked), in violation of HRS § 29lE-62(a)(2) (Supp. 2016).

         After Hosaka's arrest, the arresting officer read to Hosaka the provisions of the form titled "USE OF INTOXICANTS WHILE OPERATING A VEHICLE IMPLIED CONSENT FOR TESTING" (Implied Consent Form).[2] The Implied Consent Form informed arrested individuals of the following information:

Pursuant to chapter 291E, Hawaii Revised Statutes (HRS), Use of Intoxicants While Operating a Vehicle, you are being informed of the following:
1. Any person who operates a vehicle upon a public way, street, road, or highway or on or in the waters of the State shall be deemed to have given consent to a test or tests for the purpose of determining alcohol concentration or drug content of the person[']s breath, blood, or urine as applicable.
2. You are not entitled to an attorney before you submit to any tests [sic] or tests to determine your alcohol and/or drug content.
3. You may refuse to submit to a breath or blood test, or both for the purpose of determining alcohol concentration and/or blood or urine test, or both for the purpose of determining drug content. If you do refuse, then none shall be given, except as provided in section 291E-21. However, if you refuse to submit to a breath, blood, or urine test, you may be subject to up to the sanctions of 291E-65 if you are under 21 years of age at the time of the offense. In addition, you may also be subject to the procedures and sanctions under chapter 291E, part III.

         Hosaka initialed next to each section to indicate his acknowledgment of the information provided therein. Hosaka also initialed next to "AGREED TO TAKE A BREATH TEST AND REFUSED THE BLOOD TEST" and signed his name at the bottom of the form. Upon Hosaka's signing of the Implied Consent Form, an HPD officer administered a breath test to Hosaka and the results of the breath test were incorporated into the police reports generated for this case.

         The State charged Hosaka with: one count of Habitual OVUII, in violation of HRS §§ 29lE-6l.5(a)(1) and (a)(2)(A) (Supp. 2016) and/or 291E-61.5(a)(1) and (a)(2)(c) (Supp. 2016); and one count of Operating Vehicle After License Suspended/Revoked, in violation of HRS § 29lE-62(a)(2) (Supp. 2016).

         On August 10, 2016, Hosaka filed a Motion to Suppress Breath Test (Motion to Suppress) to preclude the use of any evidence derived from the breath test at trial. Hosaka contended that the Implied Consent Form did not follow the procedure required by HRS §§ 291E-11 (2007) and 291E-15 (Supp. 2015), rendering his purported consent to be involuntary, and therefore the breath test constituted a warrantless search in violation of his due process rights.

         On September 7, 2016, at the hearing on the Motion to Suppress, the circuit court orally granted the Motion to Suppress. The circuit court subsequently issued its Order Granting Motion to Suppress on September 26, 2016.

         II. POINTS OF ERROR

         On appeal, the State contends that the circuit court erred in making the following conclusions of law in granting Hosaka's Motion to Suppress:

         (1) that the standard HPD Implied Consent Form "does not comply with the requirements and mandate of HRS Sections 291E-11, 291E-15, and 291E-65, read in pari materia, " because it does not give an OVUII suspect an "unencumbered choice to refuse to submit to a test for alcohol concentration" and that therefore any purported consent given by an OVUII suspect pursuant to that form is "null and void";

         (2) that "burdening an arrestee's election to refuse with any significant sanctions cannot help but render any subsequent purported consent legally insufficient and therefore null and void"; and

         (3) that because "[t]here is categorically no possibility for an arrestee to know that the sanctions are solely administrative rather than criminal, much less exactly what those sanctions specifically are, or even what they may be," it is "simply not possible" for an arrestee to give "'knowing' or 'intelligent'" consent.

         III. STANDARDS OF REVIEW

         A trial court's ruling on a motion to suppress evidence is reviewed de novo to determine whether the ruling was "right" or "wrong." State v. Edwards, 96 Hawai'i 224, 231, 30 P.3d 238, 245 (2001). "[F]actual determinations made by the trial court deciding pretrial motions in a criminal case [are] governed by the clearly erroneous standard!, ]" and "conclusions of law are reviewed under the right/wrong standard." Id. (quoting State v. Eleneki, 92 Hawai'i 562, 564, 993 P.2d 1191, 1193 (2000)).

         Statutory interpretation is "a question of law reviewable de novo." State v. Levi, 102 Hawai'i 282, 285, 75 P.3d 1173, 1176 (2003) (citation omitted). Statutory construction is guided by established rules:

First, the fundamental starting point for statutory interpretation is the language of the statute itself. Second, where the statutory language is plain and unambiguous, our sole duty is to give effect to its plain and obvious meaning. Third, implicit in the task of statutory construction is our foremost obligation to ascertain and give effect to the intention of the legislature, which is to be obtained primarily from the language contained in the statute itself. Fourth, when there is ...

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