May not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (1998).
STATE OF MINNESOTA
IN COURT OF APPEALS
Trevor Gilson Cook, petitioner,
Commissioner of Public Safety,
Filed July 6, 1999
Toussaint, Chief Judge
Hennepin County District Court
File No. IC476138
David L. Ayers, Riverwood Place, Suite 100, 880 Sibley Memorial Highway, Mendota Heights, MN 55118 (for appellant)
Joel A. Watne, 200 Capitol Office Building, 525 Park Street, St. Paul MN 55103 (for respondent)
Considered and decided by Toussaint, Chief Judge, Schumacher, Judge, and Huspeni, Judge.[*]
Appellant Trevor Gilson Cook challenges the district court's order sustaining the revocation of his driving privileges pursuant to Minn. Stat. § 169.123 (1998). Cook seeks reversal on the grounds that the district court erred by not making formal findings of fact and that the revocation was unreasonable. Because we conclude that the district court properly sustained the revocation, we affirm.
Where a district court makes no formal findings of fact, an appellate court may decide the appeal without remanding if it is "able to infer the findings from the trial court's conclusions." Kvam, 336 N.W.2d at 528. The reviewing court may need to remand for findings, however, where there is conflicting testimony and several possible bases for the trial court's decision. Trombley v. Commissioner of Pub. Safety, 375 N.W.2d 97, 99 (Minn. App. 1985); see also Whitman v. Commissioner of Pub. Safety, 416 N.W.2d 476, 478 (Minn. App. 1987) (remanding the matter to the trial court for a determination of factual issues where conflicting testimony was presented). On review, an appellate court will not reverse a district court's license determination unless "it is unsupported by substantial evidence or is arbitrary or capricious." Thorson v. Commissioner of Pub. Safety, 519 N.W.2d 490, 493 (Minn. App. 1994).
At the implied consent hearing, Cook argued that his refusal to submit to the urine and blood tests was reasonable because: (1) he had just urinated for a second time within a 30-minute time span and he was unable to produce a urine sample; and (2) he had a reasonable aversion to needles and was afraid that the officer would administer the blood test. Cook claimed that he offered to take the Intoxilyzer and contends that the officer should have conducted this test. The officer testified that Cook did not offer to take the test. The district court sustained Cook's license revocation without making formal findings of fact.
A driver who refuses to submit to a test pursuant to the Minnesota implied consent law has an affirmative defense if his refusal was reasonable. Minn. Stat. § 169.123, subd. 6(c) (1998). The affirmative defense of reasonable refusal places the burden upon the driver to prove reasonableness by a preponderance of the evidence. Winder v. Commissioner of Pub. Safety, 392 N.W.2d 21, 24 (Minn. App. 1986), review denied (Minn. Oct. 22, 1986).
When a driver is unable to perform one type of test, the subsequent refusal to submit to an alternative test is unreasonable. State, Dep't of Highways v. Lauseng, 289 Minn. 344, 183 N.W.2d 926 (1971). Offering all available alternatives is not required. State v. Boland, 299 Minn. 198, 199, 217 N.W.2d 491, 492 (1974). "If a driver refuses both a blood test and an alternative test, an officer's failure to offer another alternative does not bar revocation." Id. Refusal of one test and insistence upon another is not reasonable. Forrest v. Commissioner of Pub. Safety, 366 N.W.2d 371, 372 (Minn. App. 1985) (refusing breath test and demanding blood test was not reasonable), review denied (Minn. June 27, 1985); Carlson v. Commissioner of Pub. Safety, 357 N.W.2d 391 (Minn. App. 1984) (same), review denied (Minn. Mar. 6, 1985). In this case, Cook insists he offered to take the Intoxilyzer after refusing the urine and blood tests, although the officer testified to the contrary. Because the caselaw is clear that it is unreasonable to refuse one test and insist upon another, even if Cook did offer to take the Intoxilyzer, we conclude that the district court's decision was not arbitrary or capricious.
There is a presumption of regularity and correctness when reviewing license determinations. Antl v. Department of Pub. Safety, 353 N.W.2d 240, 242 (Minn. App. 1984). The statute under which Cook sought review of his driver's license revocation states in relevant part, "[t]he court shall order that the revocation or disqualification be either rescinded or sustained and forward the order to the commissioner of public safety." Minn. Stat. § 169.123, subd. 6(e). The statute does not explicitly require factual findings. While factual findings are preferred as they aid appellate review, a district court's failure to make such findings is not necessarily fatal. See, e.g., Hennessy v. Stelton, 302 Minn. 550, 551, 224 N.W.2d 926, 927 (1974) (citing Minn. R. Civ. P. 52.01 for the proposition that although the making of findings is "preferred in aid of appellate review of an order amending a divorce decree, it is not technically required"). An appellate court will decide an issue unsupported by findings if it determines that despite the veracity of a defendant's testimony, his rights were not violated. Kvam, 336 N.W.2d at 528. Given the particular facts of this case, the record contains sufficient evidence to support the district court's decision even if Cook had offered to take the Intoxilyzer. Moreover, in the interest of judicial economy, this court has declined to remand where, as in the present case, the result upon remand would unlikely change. See Grein v. Grein, 364 N.W.2d 383, 387 (Minn. 1985) (affirming the district court's decision despite lack of specific findings since remand would unlikely result in a different outcome).
[*] Retired judge of the Minnesota Court of Appeals, serving by appointment pursuant to Minn. Const. art. VI, § 10.