DILLARD, C. J., GOBEIL and HODGES, JJ.
a stipulated bench trial, the State Court of Douglas County
convicted Brian R. Sigerfoos of driving under the influence
of alcohol under OCGA § 40-6-391 (A) (5) and speeding
under OCGA § 40-6-181. On appeal, Sigerfoos contends
that the trial court erred by denying his motion to suppress
the results of the state-administered blood test because (1)
the arresting officer failed to provide him with the
independent test of his choice as required by Georgia's
Implied Consent statute, OCGA § 40-5-67.1; and (2) the
arresting officer coerced him to submit to the blood test. We
disagree and hereby affirm the trial court's decision.
criminal cases, we have long recognized that a trial
court's findings of fact when ruling on a motion to
suppress or exclude evidence should not be disturbed upon
appellate review as long as any evidence exists to support
the trial court's findings. Thomas v. State, 294
Ga.App. 108, 108 (668 S.E.2d 540) (2008). Thus, we are
required to construe the record in the light most favorable
to the trial court's factual findings. MacMaster v.
State, 344 Ga.App. 222, 223 (1) (809 S.E.2d 478) (2018).
We review de novo the trial court's application of the
law to the facts. England v. State, 302 Ga.App. 12,
14 (1) (689 S.E.2d 833) (2009).
in this light, the record shows that on December 15, 2016,
Sigerfoos was pulled over for swerving and speeding by
Douglas County Sheriff's Deputy Mathew Atkins. During the
traffic stop, Deputy Atkins suspected Sigerfoos of driving
under the influence of alcohol ("DUI").
Specifically, Deputy Atkins noticed an odor of alcohol coming
from the car and that Sigerfoos's pupils were dilated.
When Deputy Atkins asked Sigerfoos if he had consumed
alcohol, Sigerfoos stated that he consumed about four or five
beers while playing at a music show earlier that evening.
Sigerfoos also told the Deputy that he suffered from a
herniated disc in his back and that he had taken Naproxen and
a muscle relaxer earlier in the day. Deputy Atkins then
attempted to conduct a Breathalyzer test, but Sigerfoos
refused the test.
Atkins then placed Sigerfoos under arrest, read Georgia's
Implied Consent statute to Sigerfoos, and asked him to submit
to a state-administered blood test. Sigerfoos stated
"No, I'll do a breath test," and Deputy Atkins
stated that he was no longer asking for a breath test, but
instead was requesting a blood test. Sigerfoos stated that he
did not want to submit to a blood test. Deputy Atkins
informed Sigerfoos that if he refused the blood test, he
would be placed in a holding cell while the Deputy applied
for a search warrant for Sigerfoos's blood. Sigerfoos
responded, "so if I say no, then you're going to
take [my blood] anyway?" Deputy Atkins explained that if
Sigerfoos refused the blood test, Deputy Atkins would apply
for a search warrant and only take his blood if a judge found
probable cause and approved the warrant. But, if the judge
did not approve the warrant, Deputy Atkins would not take his
blood. Deputy Atkins told Sigerfoos that he did not know what
decision the judge would make, and was merely informing
Sigerfoos as to the possible outcomes.
Atkins told Sigerfoos that he was not trying to threaten or
coerce him, and reiterated that the decision regarding
whether to submit to the blood test was "totally up to
[Sigerfoos];" "[the test is] voluntary;" and
he was "allowed to say no." Sigerfoos stated that
he would like to be able to keep his license. Deputy Atkins
informed Sigerfoos that he could not explain the statute and
that he did not know "what they'll do in court,
that's up to them, but right now your license won't
get suspended if you go along with the [testing]."
Sigerfoos responded, "I'll go along with it if my
license won't get suspended, that way I can at least
continue to go to work." Deputy Atkins reiterated,
"if you do the voluntary blood draw, then I don't
send anything in for your license to get suspended
today." Sigerfoos stated, "Alright, then I'll
do that, that way I can at least continue to work."
agreeing to the blood test, Sigerfoos confirmed to Deputy
Atkins that he did not feel threatened or coerced into giving
his consent. After the blood test was performed, Sigerfoos
never asked for an additional test.
Sigerfoos contends that the trial court erred in denying his
motion to suppress the results of the state-administered
blood test because Deputy Atkins failed to provide him with
the additional independent test of his choice as required
under OCGA § 40-5-67.1.
Implied Consent statute requires an individual of age 21 or
over who is suspected of driving under the influence to
submit to state-administered chemical tests of his blood,
breath, urine, or other bodily substances for the purpose of
determining if he is under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
OCGA § 40-5-67.1 (b) (2). The state-administered test
"shall be administered as soon as possible at the
request of a law enforcement officer having reasonable
grounds to believe that the person has been driving [under
the influece of alcohol, drugs, or toxic vapor]." OCGA
§ 40-5-67.1 (a). "The requesting law enforcement
officer shall designate which test or tests shall be
administered initially and may subsequently require a test or
tests of any [bodily] substances not initially tested."
OCGA § 40-5-67.1 (a). After submitting to the
State's requested tests, the individual is entitled to
additional chemical tests of his blood, breath, urine, or
other bodily substances at his own expense and from qualified
personnel of his choosing. OCGA § 40-5-67.1 (b) (2).
accused's right to have an additional, independent
chemical test administered is invoked by some statement that
reasonably could be construed–in light of the
circumstances–to be an expression of a desire for an
additional, independent test." Waterman v.
State, 299 Ga.App. 630, 631 (683 S.E.2d 164) (2009)
(citation and punctuation omitted). We also have held that an
arrested party's statement regarding the type of test
that he would like administered – when made in response
to an officer's question as to whether the accused will
submit to a certain type of state-administered test –
did not qualify as a request for an independent test. See
England, 302 Ga.App. at 14 (1). Such a statement
instead was found to be an attempt to indicate which type of
test the arrested party wanted the State to administer.
Id.; see also Anderton v. State, 283
Ga.App. 493, 494 (1) (642 S.E.2d 137) (2007) (defendant's
statement "I will take a blood test" was not a
request for an independent chemical test, but rather a
response to the officer's request and an attempt to
designate which test would be administered by the State);
Brooks v. State, 285 Ga.App. 624, 626-27 (647 S.E.2d
328) (2007) (defendant's question of whether he had to
take a breath or blood test in response to officer's
questions indicated that defendant was referring to the type
of test the State was going to administer).
contends that our prior holdings in Ladow v. State,
256 Ga.App. 726, 729 (569 S.E.2d 572) (2002) and Johnson
v. State, 261 Ga.App. 633, 637 (583 S.E.2d 489) (2003),
require us to find that his statements to Deputy Atkins were
a request for an additional, independent test. However, those
cases are distinguishable. In Ladow, the
defendant's statement, "I want a blood test,"
was not made in response to the officer's request for
consent for a particular type of test, unlike the case at
hand. Ladow, 256 Ga.App. at 727. Instead, the
defendant interrupted the officer while he was reading the
implied consent warning, stating that she was already aware
of her rights and unequivocally stating, "I want a blood
test." Id. We held, in Ladow, that
under this unique set of factual circumstances, the officer
reasonably should have understood the defendant's
statements as a request for an independent test. Id.
in Johnson, the defendant, upon being asked for a
breath test, replied, "I'll take a urine test."
Johnson, 261 Ga.App. at 634. The officer explained
that, once the defendant submitted to the requested breath
test, "he could take whatever test he wanted."
Id. After consenting to the breath test, the
defendant asked when he could take "my chemical
test," and the officer indicated that the test would be
administered at the jail, but no additional test was ever
performed. Id. We concluded that, under those
circumstances, the defendant's statements clearly
expressed a desire for an additional, independent test.
Id. at 637 (2).
are no similar comparisons in this case. Here, when Deputy
Atkins read Sigerfoos the Implied Consent warning and asked
whether Sigerfoos would submit to a blood test, Sigerfoos
responded "No, I'll do a breath test. This response
was made directly to Deputy Atkins's request for
Sigerfoos's consent to a state-administered blood test.
Viewed in context of the circumstances and his colloquy with
Deputy Atkins, Sigerfoos's statement was ...