ORDER ON MOTION TO SUPPRESS
WILLIAM R. STOKES JUSTICE
before the court is the Defendant's Motion to Suppress
the fruits of a search conducted pursuant to a warrant dated
June 11, 2018. The Defendant has been charged with operating
under the influence in violation of 29-A M.R.S. §2411
alleged to have been committed on June 3, 2018. The
Defendant's motion to suppress is dated October 2, 2018
and asserts that the warrant was not supported by probable
cause. A non-testimonial hearing was held on November 5,
2018, and the court took the matter under advisement. The
parties agree that the court's review is limited to the
"four corners" of the affidavit.
affiant, Trooper Connor Willard of the Maine State Police,
recited in his affidavit in support of the warrant that he
was dispatched to the scene of a single vehicle crash into a
tree on June 3, 2018 at 1557 hours (3:57 p.m.). The trooper
arrived at the crash scene at 1608 hours (4:08 p.m.) and
found a grey 4-door Chevrolet truck that had veered off the
right side of the road and struck a large tree. Rescue
personnel were already at the scene. The trooper did not
observe any skid marks. The driver was the only occupant of
the vehicle and was eventually identified as the Defendant.
front doors of the vehicle had to be removed in order to
extract the Defendant. While Trooper Willard was standing
behind the driver's door he overheard a rescue worker ask
the Defendant "if he had had anything to drink
today." Trooper Willard reported in his affidavit that
"[t]he driver mentioned to the rescue worker that he had
a few earlier."
Defendant was life-flighted to Central Maine Medical Center
(CMMC) in Lewiston. Officer Keith Couette went to the
hospital and spoke to the Defendant, who stated that "he
did not think he was in the right state of mind due to the
crash to give consent for a blood draw." Based on the
affidavit, the trooper sought a warrant to obtain the results
of the toxicology reports from the blood drawn from the
Defendant on June 3, 2018, presumably at the hospital, as
well as the whole blood sample draw at CMMC.
reviewing a magistrate's determination of probable cause
does not, and should not, make a de novo
determination. Rather, deference must be accorded to the
magistrate's finding of probable cause. State v.
Coffin, 2003 ME 83, ¶ 4, 828 A.2d 208. The
court's inquiry is limited to whether there is a
"substantial basis" for the finding of probable
cause. State v. Johndro, 2013 ME 106, ¶ 9, 82
A.3d 820. The affidavit must be given a "positive"
not a "grudging" reading and it must be reviewed
"with all reasonable inferences that may be drawn to
support the magistrate's determination." See
State v. Crowley, 1998 ME 187, ¶ 3, 714 A.2d 834;
State v. Higgins, 2002 ME 77, ¶ 20, 796 A.2d
50. The test for probable cause is limited to the "four
corners" of the affidavit. State v. Thornton,
414 A.2d 229, 233 (Me. 1980).
"substantial basis" test calls upon the magistrate
to "make a practical, common-sense decision whether,
given all the circumstances set forth in the affidavit before
him, including the 'veracity' and 'basis of
knowledge' of persons supplying hearsay information,
there is a fair probability that contraband or evidence of a
crime will be found in a particular place."
Johndro, 2013 ME 106, ¶ 10 (quoting
Illinois v. Gates, 462 U.S. 213, 238 (1983)). The
affidavit is to be reviewed in a "common sense and
realistic fashion....Technical requirements of elaborate
specificity once exacted under common law pleadings have no
proper place in this area." State v. Lutz, 553
A.2d 657, 659 (Me. 1989) (quoting United States v.
Ventresca, 380 U.S. 102, 109 (1965)).
State v. Palmer, 2018 ME 108, ¶ 10, 190 A.3d
1009, the Law Court stated that in the context of an OUI
investigation, "[i]nformation that contributes to a
finding of probable cause includes the suspect's
responsibility for a motor vehicle collision and 'an
admission by the driver that he had consumed
alcohol.'" Quoting Turner v. Sec'y of
State, 2011 ME 22, ¶ 11, 12 A.3d 1188. The Court
further remarked that a collision that had no
"apparently benign explanation," when coupled with
the driver's admission that he had consumed alcohol prior
to the crash, was sufficient to support a finding of probable
court's view, this case is controlled by and is virtually
on all-fours with Palmer. The Defendant here went
off the road sometime prior to 4:00 p.m. on June 3, 2018 for
no apparent reason and crashed head-on into a large tree. He
was overheard saying to rescue personnel that he had consumed
a "few" drinks earlier. This information was
sufficient for the issuing magistrate to conclude that there
was a fair probability that the evidence being sought
constituted evidence of a crime, to wit,
operating under the influence.
Motion to Suppress dated October 2, 2018 is DENIED.