IN THE INTEREST OF C. W., a child.
McFADDEN, P. J., BRANCH and BETHEL, JJ.
McFadden, Presiding Judge.
state filed a delinquency petition against C. W. for driving
under the influence of alcohol, OCGA § 40-6-391 (a) (1),
(k) (1), underage possession of alcohol, OCGA § 3-3-23,
reckless driving, OCGA § 40-6-390, and speeding, OCGA
§ 40-6-181. The juvenile court granted C. W.'s
motion to suppress evidence of his blood-alcohol level
obtained through a warrantless blood test, finding that the
state did not show C. W. voluntarily consented to the blood
test. The state appeals. Because the evidence presented at
the hearing on the motion to suppress does not demand a
finding contrary to the juvenile court's ruling, we
test is a search within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment.
Williams v. State, 296 Ga. 817, 819 (771 S.E.2d 373)
(2015). A warrantless search is "per se unreasonable
under the Fourth Amendment, subject only to a few
specifically established and well-delineated exceptions.
Thus, a warrantless search is presumed to be invalid, and the
[s]tate has the burden of showing otherwise."
Id. (citations omitted). Here, the state argued that
C. W. consented to the blood test, so no search warrant was
needed. See id. at 821 ("it is well settled in the
context of a DUI blood draw that a valid consent to a search
eliminates the need for … a search warrant")
(citations omitted). To meet its burden of showing consent,
the state was required to show that C. W. acted freely and
voluntarily in giving actual consent. Id. at
821-822; State v. Brogan, 340 Ga.App. 232, 233 (797
S.E.2d 149) (2017). After receiving evidence at a hearing,
the juvenile court granted the motion to suppress, finding
that C. W.'s consent to the blood test was not voluntary.
the facts material to a motion to suppress are disputed, it
generally is for the trial judge to resolve those disputes
and determine the material facts." Hughes v.
State, 296 Ga. 744, 746 (1) (770 S.E.2d 636) (2015)
(citation omitted). "An appellate court generally must
(1) accept a trial court's findings unless they are
clearly erroneous, (2) construe the evidentiary record in the
light most favorable to the factual findings and judgment of
the trial court, and (3) limit its consideration of the
disputed facts to those expressly found by the trial
court." State v. Bowman, 337 Ga.App. 313 (787
S.E.2d 284) (2016) (citations omitted).
evidence presented at the motion to suppress hearing,
construed in favor of the trial court's factual findings
and judgment, showed that a trooper with the Georgia State
Patrol saw 16-year-old C. W. driving his car at a speed of 79
miles per hour on a road with a posted speed limit of 55
miles per hour. The trooper stopped C. W.'s car and asked
him to get out. C. W. smelled of an alcoholic beverage. His
speech was slow and slurred, his eyes were bloodshot, glossy,
and watery, and he seemed withdrawn. Although he initially
denied drinking, C. W. eventually told the trooper that he
had drunk three beers earlier in the day. The trooper
administered field sobriety tests and a portable breath test,
which indicated the presence of alcohol on C. W.'s
breath. At that point, the trooper arrested C. W. and
handcuffed him. He read C. W. the implied consent notice for
persons under the age of 21. C. W. agreed to submit to a
state-administered chemical test. The trooper drove C. W. to
a police precinct to undergo a blood test. More than an hour
passed between the reading of the implied consent warning and
the blood test. The officer testified that he was "very
stern" while interacting with C. W.
paramedic drew C. W.'s blood at the precinct. The
paramedic had the trooper sign the consent form on C.
W.'s behalf because C. W. is a minor, their protocols
prohibit a minor from consenting, and C. W. was in the
trooper's custody. C. W. did not read the consent form
and neither the paramedic nor the trooper read it to him. C.
W.'s parents were not present when his blood was drawn;
the paramedic did not recall that C. W.'s parents had
been notified that his blood would be drawn; and C. W.'s
father arrived after his blood had been drawn.
on these facts, the juvenile court found that C. W.'s
consent to the blood test was not voluntary. The court
concluded that although C. W. was not threatened with
physical harm, "given his youth and the other
circumstances, a reasonable person would not have felt free
to decline the [trooper's] request to submit to the blood
Evaluating the totality of these circumstances, we are
reminded that in the absence of evidence of record
demanding a finding contrary to the judge's
determination, the appellate court will not reverse the
ruling sustaining a motion to suppress. And here, the
evidence supports the trial court's findings and
certainly does not demand a conclusion contrary to
the court's ruling.
Bowman, supra, 337 Ga.App. at 318 (citations and
punctuation omitted; emphasis in original).
state argues that the fact the trooper read the implied
consent notice to C. W. does not per se mean that his consent
was coerced. It also argues that, contrary to C. W.'s
contention, a juvenile may consent to a blood test. But the
juvenile court did not rule that C. W.'s consent was
coerced, as a matter of law, due to the reading of the
implied consent notice. Nor did the court rule that C.
W.'s age meant that, as a matter of law, he could not
consent to a blood test. So those issues are not before us.
state also "argues that the evidence supported a finding
of voluntary consent. Were we reviewing a denial of a motion
to suppress, this argument might be persuasive. But we are
reviewing a grant of a motion to suppress, and the evidence
did not demand a finding contrary to the trial court's
decision. For this reason, we must affirm."
Brogan, 340 Ga.App. at 236 (citations and
Branch, J, concurs Bethel, ...