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State v. Mullins

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Fourth District

June 25, 2013

STATE OF OHIO, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
LAURA K. MULLINS, Defendant-Appellant.

Timothy Young, Ohio Public Defender, and Jessica S. McDonald, Assistant Ohio Public Defender, Chillicothe, Ohio, for appellant.

Sherri K. Rutherford, City of Chillicothe Law Director, and Michele Rout, City of Chillicothe Assistant Law Director, Chillicothe, Ohio, for appellee.

DECISION AND JUDGMENT ENTRY

William H. Harsha, Judge.

{¶1} Following a no contest plea, Laura Mullins appeals her conviction for operating a vehicle with a prohibited concentration of alcohol in her urine. Mullins contends the trial court erred when it denied her motion to suppress the results of her urine test because the State failed to prove it substantially complied with a regulation that requires urine samples be refrigerated while not in transit or under examination. The parties stipulated that after a trooper took the urine sample, he gave it to another trooper who did not refrigerate it and did not place it in the mail for testing until nearly 12 hours later. Because this is not a de minimis or minor procedural deviation, we agree the State failed to prove substantial compliance. Therefore, the trial court erred when it denied the motion to suppress. We reverse and remand for further proceedings.

I. Facts

{¶2} Mullins was charged with violating R.C. 4511.19(A)(1)(a), R.C. 4511.19(A)(1)(e), and R.C. 4511.202. She filed a motion to suppress the results of her urine test, arguing the State failed to keep her urine specimen refrigerated when it was not in transit or under examination. The parties made the following stipulations for purposes of the motion:

1. Defendant became the subject of a vehicle crash investigation on March 24, 2012.
2. Upon being placed under arrest, by Trooper Brown of the Ohio State Highway Patrol, the Defendant agreed to submit to a urine analysis.
3. The Defendant's urine sample was collected and witnessed by Trooper Hutton of the Ohio State Highway Patrol.
4. The Defendant's sample was collected at 18:44 (6:44 p.m.) on March 24, 2012 and according to the property control form, the sample was given to Trooper Brown by Trooper Hutton at that same time.
5. The Defendant's urine sample was kept in Trooper Brown's locked patrol cruiser for the remainder of his shift.
6. Trooper Brown got off his shift at 6:00 a.m., on March 25, 2012.
7. According to the property control form completed and submitted by Trooper Brown, the Defendant's urine sample was not placed in the mail (transit) until 6:30 a.m. on March 25, 2012.
8. At no time between the collection at 6:44 p.m. on March 24, 2012 and the placing in the mail at 6:30 a.m. on March 25, 2012, was the ...

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