Bialowas v. Commissioner of Motor Vehicles

In Bialowas v. Commissioner of Motor Vehicles, 44 Conn. App. 702, 692 A.2d 834 (1997), the Court held that "where it is undisputed that the motorist submitted to the chemical alcohol test, the fact that he failed to provide an adequate breath sample does not automatically constitute refusal within the meaning of 14-227b. Such refusal must be supported by substantial evidence." The gravamen of Bialowas is that, without more, an officer's conclusory statement that the operator has refused the test does not constitute substantial evidence. In Bialowas, the officer failed to furnish supporting evidence for his conclusion that the plaintiff therein had refused to take the test. Id., 716-17. The Court held that the record contained insufficient evidence to support the commissioner's finding that the plaintiff had refused to submit to a Breathalyzer test. Id., at 715. There is, however, a crucial distinction between Bialowas and the present case. The evidence at issue in Bialowas was a police report and narrative supplement that contained conclusory statements, without supporting details, that the operator had refused the test by failing to provide an adequate breath sample. The Court concluded that it was improper for the hearing officer to credit the police officer's conclusory statements without some supporting details about the police officer's observations. Id., at 716-17.