from the Iowa District Court for Dubuque County, Mark T.
Hostager, District Associate Judge.
defendant appeals his convictions asserting the district
court should not have denied his motion to suppress evidence.
D. Runde and Jeffrey E. Hiatt of Clemens, Walters, Conlon,
Runde & Hiatt, L.L.P., Dubuque, for appellant.
J. Miller, Attorney General, and Sharon K. Hall, Assistant
Attorney General, for appellee.
Considered by Vogel, P.J., and Potterfield and Mullins, JJ.
Konzen was found guilty, following a bench trial on the
minutes of evidence, of possession of a controlled
substance-marijuana-and possession of drug paraphernalia. On
appeal he claims the district court incorrectly denied his
motion to suppress the evidence discovered in the warrantless
search of his vehicle because the police officers lacked
probable cause and exigent circumstances did not exist.
Because we agree with the district court that the automobile
exception applies to the facts of the case, we affirm the
court's denial of Konzen's motion to suppress.
officer stopped Konzen's vehicle for an expired
registration. Upon interacting with Konzen, the officer
smelled the odor of marijuana coming from inside the vehicle.
Over the officer's sixteen years of experience working
for the police department, the officer had specific training
and extensive experience detecting the smell of marijuana.
Backup officers arrived and also detected the odor of
marijuana coming from the vehicle. Konzen's car was
searched, and marijuana and a pipe were found. Konzen was
arrested and charged.
filed a motion to suppress the marijuana and pipe found
during the search of his vehicle. After a hearing, the
district court denied the motion. He then stipulated to a
bench trial on the minutes of evidence. The court found him
guilty as charged and sentenced him to 120 days in
jail-suspended-and two years of probation. He appeals
contesting the district court's denial of his motion to
searches are per se unreasonable unless they fall within the
carefully drawn exceptions to the warrant requirement.
State v. Gaskins, 866 N.W.2d 1, 7 (Iowa 2015). One
of those exceptions is probable cause coupled with exigent
circumstances, which is termed the automobile exception when
applied to motor vehicles. State v. Storm, 898
N.W.2d 140, 145 (Iowa 2017). Konzen asserts the smell of
marijuana emanating from his vehicle alone does not provide
probable cause to search his vehicle. In addition, he asserts
the inherent mobility of vehicles should no longer provide
the basis for exigent circumstances to search. He asks the
Iowa courts to "re-evaluate the 'automobile
exception' and find it incompatible with the Iowa
Constitution." In light of the recent controlling Iowa
precedent, we decline Konzen's invitation.
to Konzen's contention, Iowa Courts have held "a
trained officer's detection of a sufficiently distinctive
odor, by itself or when accompanied by other facts,
may establish probable cause." State v. Watts,
801 N.W.2d 845, 854 (Iowa 2011) (emphasis added); State
v. Eubanks, 355 N.W.2d 57, 59 (Iowa 1984) ("[T]he
patrolman clearly had sufficient probable cause to search the
vehicle and its contents. The patrolman smelled the odor of
marijuana drifting from the car when he approached defendant,
who was seated behind the steering wheel. The odor of that
controlled substance in the automobile gave the patrolman
reasonable cause to conduct a comprehensive search of the
car."). Thus, the officer's detection of the odor of
marijuana emanating from Konzen's vehicle was sufficient,
by itself, to provide the probable cause to search the
addition, when recently faced with the question of the
continuing viability of the automobile exception in Iowa, our
supreme court stated: "The inherent mobility of motor
vehicles satisfies the exigent-circumstances
requirement." Storm, 898 N.W.2d at 145.
"The exigency inherent in vehicle search cases is not
necessarily dependent on whether the driver or passenger
remains in or exits from the car before or during the
search." Eubanks, 355 N.W.2d at 60. Because our
supreme court recently decided to "elect to retain the
automobile exception, consistent with our precedent, federal
caselaw, and the overwhelming majority of other states,
" Storm, 898 N.W.2d at 142, we affirm the
district court's denial of ...