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Appeals court reverses Mower County DWI ruling

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ST. PAUL — An Austin man's case for allegedly driving while impaired is heading back to Mower County District Court after the state appeals court ruled his urine test results should have been admitted as evidence.

Scott Ross Hunn, 34, was arrested about 1 a.m. Feb. 21, 2016, after failing to stop at a stop sign. The deputy observed Hunn's eyes were "bloodshot, glassy and had abnormally dilated pupils," the report says.

Hunn also "appeared agitated, spoke abnormally fast and shared odd information," the document continues, leading the deputy to believe Hunn had used drugs. He admitted to drinking one beer.

After allegedly failing two field sobriety tests, a preliminary breath test indicated an alcohol concentration of 0.024; Hunn was arrested for controlled-substance DWI. A subsequent search of his vehicle revealed a straw with trace amounts of methamphetamine.

Once at the Mower County Jail, the deputy asked Hunn, "Scott, will you take a urine test and give me a sample?" According to the report, Hunn replied, "Why not?"

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The deputy responded, "So, yes," and Hunn provided a sample, which was sent to the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension for testing.

But the deputy didn't read the implied-consent advisory or tell Hunn that he had a limited right to speak to an attorney — and that was the basis of the appeal by the prosecution.

"Implied consent" refers to the agreement that drivers make — by driving on Minnesota roads — to consent to take a chemical test to determine the presence of drugs or alcohol.

A driver is required to submit to testing if an officer has probable cause to believe the driver is intoxicated and one of several conditions must exist.

The civil penalty for refusing to take a blood or urine test when asked — and advised of the law — is loss of the driver's license for one to six years. The length of the revocation or cancellation period depends on a driver's DWI history.

Hunn was ultimately charged June 6, 2016, with one count each of gross misdemeanor DWI; no proof of insurance-misdemeanor; and possession of drug paraphernalia, a petty misdemeanor.

His attorney moved to suppress the evidence and dismiss the complaint on a number of grounds, including the officer's failure to read the implied-consent advisory as well as the invalidity of Hunn's consent to testing.

The Mower County judge granted the motion to suppress the urine-test results because of the lack of the advisory, but didn't determine if Hunn's consent to the test was voluntary.

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The prosecution appealed, arguing that since Hunn wasn't read the implied-consent advisory, he didn't face immediate revocation of his driver's license.

The Minnesota Court of Appeals panel of judges agreed, ruling Monday that the district court judge erred in suppressing the test because Hunn couldn't have been punished for not providing a sample.

The test results will be admitted into evidence, and the case was sent back to Mower County for further proceedings, including a determination of whether Hunn voluntarily consented to the request for a sample.

He's pleaded not guilty to all charges, and is due back in court July 26.

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