Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Cerro Gordo County, Gerald Magee, Judge.
Defendant appeals the district court's ruling denying his motion to suppress and the ruling denying his motion for reconsideration.
Brandon Brown of Parrish, Kruidenier, Dunn, Boles, Gribble, Gentry & Fisher, L.L.P., Des Moines, for appellant.
Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, Bridget Chambers, Assistant Attorney General, Carlyle D. Dalen, County Attorney, and Steven Tynan, Assistant County Attorney, for appellee.
Considered by Vogel, P.J., and Danilson and Tabor, JJ.
Michael Leer, Jr. appeals the district court's ruling denying his motion to suppress and the ruling denying his motion for reconsideration. He was subsequently convicted for operating while under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance, second offense, in violation of Iowa Code section 321J.2 (2011). Leer contends the district court erred in determining the arresting officer had the requisite reasonable suspicion to stop and detain him and asks that all evidence following the seizure be suppressed. In the alternative, he contends even if the stop was proper, the district court erred by failing to suppress his breath sample. We conclude the stop was proper, but the district court applied an incorrect legal standard regarding the suppression of the breath test results. We affirm in part, reverse in part, and remand with directions.
I. Background Facts and Proceedings.
After New Year's Eve on January 1, 2012, about 3:00 a.m., Officer Stiles observed Leer's truck stopped at a red light. A second vehicle was stopped behind his truck. Officer Stiles witnessed the driver of the second vehicle approach Leer's truck on the driver's side. As the second driver approached, Leer's truck door opened. The second driver reached into the truck and retrieved a silver can. After noticing the police car, he tried to hand the can back to Leer. When Leer refused to take the can back, the second driver placed it in Leer's truck bed and returned to his own vehicle. Based on the careful way the second driver carried the can, Officer Stiles believed it was open at the time.
Suspecting Leer had violated the open container statute,  Officer Stiles followed his vehicle a short distance and initiated a traffic stop. Once Leer stopped the vehicle, Officer Stiles checked the bed of the truck and found an open can of beer, as suspected.
During the stop Leer admitted he had consumed "a few" beers. He then submitted to sobriety tests but refused the preliminary breath test (PBT). The time of the refusal is in dispute. The two police cameras that were recording show the refusal at either 3:08:03 a.m. or 3:09:26 a.m. However, the log of the refusal entered by the dispatcher shows a time stamp of 3:15 a.m. Following the refusal Officer Stiles placed Leer under arrest and transported him to the police station.
At the station Officer Stiles read Leer the implied consent advisory before requesting his written consent to submit to a breath test. Officer Stiles testified he checked his watch as he gave the advisory and saw it was 5:05 a.m. Just "ten, fifteen seconds" later, he activated the DataMaster DMT, the machine used to administer the breath test. However, the machine's log showed it was activated at 5:16:31 a.m. The test results showed Leer's blood alcohol content to be .129.
On February 7, 2012, the State filed a trial information charging Leer with operating while under the influence of alcohol or with a controlled substance in his body, second offense. Leer filed a motion to suppress, arguing the traffic stop was in violation of his constitutional rights and his breath specimen was improperly obtained. After a hearing, the district court denied the motion. Leer then filed a motion to reconsider which was also denied by the district court. He sought interlocutory review of the district court's suppression ruling and was denied discretionary review by the Iowa Supreme Court.
Subsequently, Leer waived his right to a jury trial. On August 28, 2012, the district court held a trial on the stipulated minutes of testimony. Leer ...