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State v. Mass.

Court of Appeal of Iowa

June 26, 2013

STATE OF IOWA, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
NOAH JAMES MASS, Defendant-Appellant.

Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Cass County, Susan K. Christensen, District Associate Judge (motion to suppress), and Richard H. Davidson, Judge (trial).

Noah Mass. appeals his convictions for operating while intoxicated and possession of marijuana.

Bill Bracker, Council Bluffs, for appellant.

Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, Thomas H. Miller, Deputy Attorney General, and Daniel Fiestner, County Attorney, for appellee.

Heard by Doyle, P.J., and Danilson and Mullins, JJ.

DANILSON, J.

Noah Mass. appeals his convictions for operating while intoxicated and possession of marijuana. He contends (1) the initial traffic stop was neither supported by reasonable suspicion that a crime was being committed nor may be supported under the community caretaking exception, (2) after the investigation that triggered the stop was completed, continued seizure was unconstitutional, and (3) evidence obtained from administration of the preliminary breath test should have been suppressed. We conclude that even if we assume the initial stop was reasonable, the stop was unreasonably expanded. We reverse and remand.

I. Background Facts and Proceedings.

On July 17, 2011, Noah Mass. was headed to his home in Carson after playing music in Des Moines when another car veered into his lane and caused him to drive into the ditch. It was almost midnight, and driving conditions were less than favorable, including rain, thunder, and lightning. Though his car suffered some damage, Mass. drove back onto the highway and continued driving.

Another driver witnessed Mass. driving into the ditch and called 911 to report the incident. The anonymous caller reported the vehicle was a green Grand Am, traveling westbound on Interstate 80, and that the vehicle drove back out of the ditch at a high rate of speed.

Deputy Kyle Quist positioned himself to watch for the reported vehicle and observed Mass's green Grand Prix. Deputy Quist decided it was similar enough to follow the vehicle after being informed by other officers up the road that they had not observed any other green vehicles. He began observation around mile marker fifty-seven and stopped Mass. near mile marker fifty-four. At the suppression hearing, Deputy Quist testified that he conducted a traffic stop because of

[t]he previous call of the wreck, the caller also advised that the vehicle had been driving erratically, then I had the obvious weaving back and forth in between the lanes which could tell me a tired or impaired driver, and then I had the vehicle crossing the side right line.

Officer Quist also believed that Mass. either touched or crossed the fog line two times.

Deputy Quist's vehicle's camera recorded the action of the Grand Prix and most of the stop. The in-camera video shows Mass. move to the right side of his lane as a car passes him on the left side. The video also shows Mass's vehicle approach, but not touch or cross the fog line. Notwithstanding a replay of the video during the suppression hearing, the deputy claimed the vehicle crossed the fog line. Deputy Quist acknowledged the "second time" he observed Mass. touch ...


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