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State of Iowa v. Benjamin J. Vesely

February 27, 2013

STATE OF IOWA, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,
v.
BENJAMIN J. VESELY, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, Gregory D. Brandt, District Associate Judge.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Doyle, J.

Benjamin Vesely appeals from his conviction for operating while intoxicated, second offense. AFFIRMED.

Considered by Vogel, P.J., and Potterfield and Doyle, JJ.

Benjamin Vesely appeals following his conviction and sentence for operating while intoxicated (OWI), second offense, in violation of Iowa Code section 321J.2 (2011). He contends the district court erred in denying his motion to suppress evidence because the arresting officer did not have reasonable suspicion to stop his vehicle. Upon our review, we affirm.

I. Background Facts and Proceedings.

Ankeny police officer Davis was on patrol on August 25, 2011, at about 2:00 a.m. He was at the intersection of Northwest 18th and Northwest State Street when he observed a vehicle travelling westbound on Northwest 18th turn left onto Northwest State Street. As the vehicle made its turn, Officer Davis observed it "cross through all three traffic portions of the lanes facing northbound on Northwest State." The vehicle then continued southbound on Northwest State in the southbound lane.

Officer Davis followed the vehicle for about a block and into the parking lot of an apartment complex. As the vehicle parked, Officer Davis initiated a traffic stop by activating his patrol car's emergency lights. He approached the vehicle and made the standard request for information from the driver, Vesely. Officer Davis explained to Vesely that he was being stopped for making an unsafe turn. Officer Davis smelled the odor of alcohol coming from Vesely, and Vesely admitted to drinking a couple of shots much earlier in the day. Vesely performed field sobriety tests and was then arrested for OWI. Later testing confirmed Vesely's blood alcohol content was above the legal limit.

The State filed a trial information charging Vesely with OWI, second offense. Vesely filed a motion to suppress all the evidence obtained as a result of the stop. His motion contended Officer Davis did not have "probable cause or any other legally recognized basis to stop and detain" Vesely. He asserted the stop of his vehicle was in violation of his federal and state constitutional rights. After a suppression hearing, the district court denied the motion. Later, a bench trial was held on the minutes of testimony. The district court found Vesely guilty as charged.

Vesely now appeals, contending the district court erred in denying his motion to suppress.

II. Scope and Standards of Review.

Vesely invokes both the federal and state constitutional prohibitions against unreasonable searches and seizures, which contain identical language and are generally "deemed to be identical in scope, import, and purpose." See U.S. Const. amend. IV; Iowa Const. art. I, § 8; see also State v. Bishop, 387 N.W.2d 554, 557 (Iowa 1986). He has not argued that the interpretation of the two provisions should differ. We will therefore construe them together. See State v. Jones, 666 N.W.2d 142, 145 (Iowa 2003).

Because Vesely contends the stop violated his rights under the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution and article I, section 8 of the Iowa Constitution, we review his claim de novo. See State v. Fleming, 790 N.W.2d 560, 563 (Iowa 2010). "This review requires an independent evaluation of the totality of the circumstances as shown by the entire record." State v. Pals, 805 N.W.2d 767, 771 (2011) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted).

Although we defer to the factual findings of the district court because of its greater ability to evaluate the credibility of witnesses, we are not ...


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