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MIssouri Court of Appeals Makes Ruling Regarding Administrative Hearings in DWI Cases

In a recent opinion, Hilkemeyer v. MO Director of Revenue, Missouri Court of Appeals, Southern District—SD30811, the Missouri Court of Appeals dealt with the suspension of the Petitioner's driving privileges following a DWI arrest. The Court held that the statute governing review of the Director of Revenue's decision by trial de novo in circuit court places the burden of proof on the Director. It does not include any presumption that the Director's case is true. Therefore, the suspended driver may prevail even if he presented no evidence in his defense.

Interestingly, the Court of Appeals refused to weigh in on the argument that the 15 minute "observation" period (which requires police officers administering breathalyzer tests to observe the driver for 15 minutes immediately prior to administering the test) necessarily requires the driver to be in the officer's line of sight for the full 15 minute period. In other words, the Court left open the possibility that the "observation" of the driver may include periods when the officer cannot even see the driver.