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State of Ohio v. Ann K. Rawnsley

November 4, 2011


Trial Court Case No. 10-CR-2359 Criminal Appeal from (Common Pleas Court)

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Fain, J.

Cite as State v. Rawnsley,


{¶1} The State of Ohio appeals from an order of the trial court suppressing evidence of a blood-alcohol test in the prosecution of defendant-appellee Ann K. Rawnsley for Aggravated Vehicular Assault, in violation of R.C. 2903.08(A)(1), and one count of Operating a Vehicle while Under the Influence, "in violation of [R.C.] 4511.19(A)(1)(a)/4511.19(G)(1)(a)." The State contends that Rawnsley consented to the withdrawal of her blood for the test, or, in the alternative, that the police officer ordering the test had both probable cause for the search and exigent circumstances justifying a warrantless search.

{¶2} We conclude that Rawnsley's consent to the blood draw was not knowing and intelligent, in view of the fact that she was incorrectly advised that she was under arrest and that if she did not consent, she would be subject to the immediate suspension of her driver's license. We also conclude that the trial court's finding that the State failed to prove exigent circumstances justifying a warrantless blood draw is not against the manifest weight of the evidence. Consequently, the order of the trial court suppressing the evidence is Affirmed.


{¶3} The trial court made the following findings of fact.

{¶4} "Defendant Ann Rawnsley was involved in a two vehicle collision on April 24, 2010 at approximately 10:55 p.m. in Huber Heights, Ohio on Brandt Pike near the entrance to the Wayne Estates apartment complex. Huber Heights Patrol Officer Joshau Fosnight was dispatched to the accident scene. Officer Fosnight arrived at the scene at 10:56 p.m. with his travel time after being dispatched being less than one minute. Officer Fosnight, upon arrival, observed the two involved vehicles. Another Huber Heights officer was focused upon one of the involved vehicles prompting Officer Fosnight's decision to focus his attention on the second vehicle. Officer Fosnight, as he approached the vehicle, was stopped by an individual who indicated he had spoken to the female occupant of the vehicle (with the occupant being Ann Rawnsley) and informed her that the 'police were on the way.' The individual informed Officer Fosnight that Ms. Rawnsley responded by saying 'I'm f*cked. I have been drinking.'

{¶5} "Officer Fosnight, as he peered into the vehicle, observed Ms. Rawnsley on the vehicle's front floorboard with her head resting on the front driver's seat. Officer Fosnight, though with some difficulty, was able to open the driver's side front door, and, upon doing so, he, in addition to the odor created by the airbag deployment, discerned a strong odor of alcohol. Ms. Rawnsley informed Officer Fosnight that she did not recall the details of the collision, that she had been at Cricket's bar, but that she did not remember how much alcohol she had consumed. Officer Fosnight, due to the severity of the collision creating the distinct possibility that Ms. Rawnsley had suffered serious physical injury and the very quick arrival of medical personnel, did not attempt to have Ms. Rawnsley perform the usual battery of field sobriety tests.

{¶6} "The medical personnel, upon arrival, took charge of Ms. Rawnsley. Officer Fosnight, while Ms. Rawnsley was being medically assessed, assisted other Huber Heights officers in processing the accident scene. Officer Fosnight stated, very candidly, that at no time did he consider contacting a judge, either personally or through another officer, in order to present the judge with a probable cause affidavit in an attempt to secure a search warrant authorizing the withdrawal of Ms. Rawnsley's blood so that a blood alcohol test could be performed.

{¶7} "When the paramedics began the ambulance transfer of Ann Rawnsley to Miami Valley Hospital (MVH), Officer Fosnight followed the ambulance to the hospital. Officer Fosnight's purpose in going to MVH was to secure a blood draw from Ms. Rawnsley. Ms. Rawnsley, upon arrival at MVH, was initially assessed by the medical staff. Officer Fosnight, upon completion of the initial medical assessment, entered, along with a MVH officer, Ms. Rawnsley's room. Officer Fosnight, upon entering the room and as reflected by his testimony at the February 25 hearing, read, in a verbatim fashion, the BMV 2255 form mandated to be read to an individual arrested for an OVI offense before the arrested individual is requested to submit to a blood alcohol test. [Footnote omitted.]

{¶8} "The 'Consequences of Test and Refusal' language informed Ms. Rawnsley that she was under arrest for an OVI violation and further informed her of the consequences if she refused to take a blood alcohol test. The reality, however, is that when Ms. Rawnsley was read the BMV 2255 language she was not under arrest. Officer Fosnight, again very forthrightly, was adamant on this issue at both the February 3 and February 25 hearings. It seems that a primary reason Ms. Rawnsley was not arrested is the Huber Heights Police Department's practice of not arresting an individual who is being admitted to the hospital. This practice is driven, it seems, by the possibility that Huber Heights will incur some type of financial responsibility for an arrestee's medical care.

{ΒΆ9} "Ms. Rawnsley, upon being read the BMV 2255 language, agreed to a blood draw. Michelle Kelly, a MVH phlebotomist, drew the blood from Ms. Rawnsley using an OVI kit maintained at MVH. The blood draw was accomplished at 12:56 a.m., two hours after the collision. Officer Fosnight took the OVI kit to the Huber Heights Police Department and placed the kit into a refrigerator maintained by the Huber Heights Police Department exclusively for the storage of OVI kits. Thereafter, he OVI kit was transported ...

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