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State v. Stanley

Court of Appeal of Iowa

July 10, 2013

STATE OF IOWA, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
KYLE R. STANLEY, Defendant-Appellant.

Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Butler County, Peter B. Newell, District Associate Judge.

A defendant convicted of operating while intoxicated contends the district court erred in failing to suppress evidence obtained during a traffic stop.

David R. Johnson of Brinton, Bordwell & Johnson, Clarion, for appellant. Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, Sharon K. Hall, Assistant Attorney General, and Gregory M. Lievens, County Attorney, for appellee.

Considered by Vogel, P.J., and Vaitheswaran and Bower, JJ.

VAITHESWARAN, J.

Kyle Stanley appeals his judgment and sentence for operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated (first offense). He contends the district court should have suppressed evidence obtained following a stop of his vehicle.

I. Background Facts and Proceedings

At approximately 1:15 one spring morning, a deputy sheriff observed a vehicle enter the town of New Hartford and proceed west. He thought the driver, Kyle Stanley, might not have slowed down to the twenty-five mile-per-hour in-town speed, but he "was not able to get him on radar." He followed the vehicle through town and watched as the car took the second of two routes to Highway 57. Believing Stanley made an improper turn onto Highway 57, the deputy stopped the car.

Based on Stanley's demeanor, the deputy suspected he was intoxicated. He administered field sobriety tests and arrested him for operating while intoxicated.

The State charged Stanley with OWI first offense. Stanley moved to suppress evidence obtained following the stop on the ground that the stop violated the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution.[1] Following an evidentiary hearing, the district court denied the motion. Stanley subsequently agreed to a trial on the minutes of testimony. The court found him guilty and imposed sentence. This appeal followed.

II. Analysis

The Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution, made applicable to the states through the Fourteenth Amendment, protects citizens against unreasonable searches and seizures. "A traffic stop is unquestionably a seizure under the Fourth Amendment." State v. Tyler, 830 N.W.2d 288, 292 (Iowa 2013). The stop is reasonable if it is supported by a warrant or if it falls within an exception to the warrant requirement. State v. Kinkead, 570 N.W.2d 97, 100 (Iowa 1997). The State relies on the probable cause exception or, alternately, on reasonable suspicion that criminal activity was afoot. Stanley contends neither doctrine applies. Our review of this constitutional issue is de novo. Id. at 99.

A. Probable Cause

"When a peace officer observes a violation of our traffic laws, however minor, the officer has probable cause to stop a motorist." State v. Tague, 676 N.W.2d 197, 201 (Iowa 2004). The State asserts the deputy had probable cause to believe Stanley violated Iowa Code section 321.297 (2011), which, as a general matter, ...


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