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State v. Easter

Court of Appeals of Iowa

December 6, 2017

STATE OF IOWA, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
RYAN DELMAR EASTER, Defendant-Appellant.

         Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, David N. May, Judge.

         Ryan Easter appeals following conviction for operating while under the influence. AFFIRMED.

          Karmen R. Anderson of The Law Office of Karmen Anderson, Des Moines, for appellant.

          Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, and Martha E. Trout, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee.

          Considered by Danilson, C.J., and Doyle and Mullins, JJ.

          DANILSON, CHIEF JUDGE.

         Ryan Easter appeals following conviction for operating while under the influence (OWI), second offense. Finding no abuse of discretion or error of law, we affirm.

         Easter was clocked driving fifty-four miles per hour in a thirty-five-mile-per-hour zone. Police Officer Andrew Wierck was following Easter and turned on the overhead squad car lights and spot light. Easter proceeded a block, turned left, and then turned right, pulling into a driveway. Officer Wierck approached Easter and detected the odor of alcoholic beverages. Easter declined to participate in field sobriety tests. Officer Wierck arrested him for speeding and transported Easter to the police station for investigation of OWI. Easter refused to consent to any chemical testing.

         At trial, Officer Wierck testified about the traffic stop and also stated, "As I spoke with him, I could tell he had some slurred speech and that his eyes were bloodshot." When asked, Easter stated he was coming from a bar/concert and that he had consumed beer and a shot of Crown Royal, he felt he was safe to drive, and he would not submit to field sobriety testing as he was in his own driveway. Officer Wierck also testified Easter would not consent to a breath test or any other testing while at the police station. The officer testified he believed Easter was under the influence of alcohol. On cross-examination, Officer Wierck conceded that the odor of an alcoholic beverage may vary depending on the type of beverage consumed and that the odor alone cannot be relied upon to determine an individual's blood alcohol content. Officer Wierck also acknowledged Easter had used his turn signals, had been at an appropriate speed to turn corners, and complied with the officer's requests and demands. The officer also testified Easter was within his rights to refuse the field sobriety and breathalyzer tests.

         Officer Michael Dixon testified he arrived as a backup at the scene of the traffic stop. Officer Dixon stated: "[W]hile standing there just observing I could smell the odor of an alcoholic beverage coming from him. As I got a little close to him, I could see that his eyes were bloodshot and watery, some of his speech was slightly slurred."

         The district court denied Easter's motion for directed verdict, finding the officers' testimony and the video of the traffic stop provided sufficient evidence to present the matter to the jury.

         During closing arguments, the prosecutor made the following statement:

Now, the big question here, one that you're not going to find in your jury instructions but one that's probably sitting in the back of your head, your common sense is begging you to ...

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