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State v. Keith

Court of Appeals of Iowa

April 4, 2018

STATE OF IOWA, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
THOMAS NATHANIEL KEITH, Defendant-Appellant.

          Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Bremer County, Christopher C. Foy, Judge.

         Thomas Keith appeals from his conviction for operating while intoxicated, third offense. AFFIRMED.

          Kevin D. Engels of Correll, Sheerer, Benson, Engels, Galles & Demro, PLC, Cedar Falls, for appellant.

          homas J. Miller, Attorney General, and Darrel L. Mullins, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee.

          Considered by Danilson, C.J., and Vaitheswaran and Bower, JJ.

          DANILSON, Chief Judge.

         Thomas Keith appeals from his conviction for operating while intoxicated (OWI), third offense, a class "D" felony, in violation of Iowa Code section 321J.2 (2016). Keith maintains the district court erred in denying his motion to suppress on the basis there was no probable cause or reasonable suspicion for the traffic stop. On our review of the facts in this case, we find there was reasonable suspicion justifying the traffic stop and affirm the district court's denial of the motion to suppress.

         I. Background Facts & Proceedings.

         At the hearing on the motion to suppress, Officer Thomas Power stated that shortly after 2:00 a.m. on November 5, 2016, he observed a truck that was traveling toward him from the opposite direction. In his opinion, the vehicle traversed the double yellow line in the middle of the road and corrected back over the white fog line on the opposite side of the road. For this reason, Officer Power was concerned the driver may be under the influence of alcohol, and he turned around and began following the truck.

         A video recording taken from Officer Power's dashboard camera captured the entire interaction. As Officer Power followed the truck and it went around an S curve, the truck's wheels touched the inside yellow line of the road. Officer Power continued to follow the truck for a number of blocks as the truck made various turns onto different residential streets without lane markings. Eventually, the truck made a left turn and the video recording shows the truck's wheels over the white fog line before correcting to the center of the lane. The truck's wheels appear to touch the fog line once more before the truck made a right turn. Officer Power followed the truck through the right turn and activated his emergency lights. Upon conducting the traffic stop, Officer Power learned Keith was the driver of the vehicle. Keith had bloodshot, watery eyes, smelled of alcoholic beverages, and failed field sobriety tests. Keith was charged with OWI, third offense.

         Keith filed a motion to suppress on December 16, 2016. After a hearing held on January 23, 2017, the district court entered an order denying the motion to suppress, concluding Officer Power had reasonable suspicion to conduct the traffic stop. The court held:

Taken separately, each of the observations made by Officer Power may not have been sufficient to support his stop of [Keith]. However, when considered together, the factors noted by the officer-the time of day, the swerving of [Keith]'s vehicle, the route traveled by [Keith]-are enough to lead a reasonable person to conclude that criminal activity was occurring.

         On appeal, Keith contends his OWI conviction resulting from the traffic stop should be dismissed because Officer Power had no probable cause or reasonable suspicion to stop his vehicle, violating his right to be free from unreasonable seizure. Keith maintains the district court should have granted his motion to suppress on that basis.

         II. ...


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