review from the Iowa Court of Appeals. Appeal from the Iowa
District Court for Clarke County, Monty W. Franklin, Judge.
defendant convicted of operating while intoxicated seeks
further review of a court of appeals decision affirming his
conviction and the denial of his motion to suppress.
A. Michels of Gourley, Rehkemper, & Lindholm, P.L.C.,
West Des Moines, for appellant.
J. Miller, Attorney General, Thomas E. Bakke, Assistant
Attorney General, and Michelle Rivera, County Attorney, for
a.m., officers responded to a dispatch report of a vehicle in
a roadside ditch. According to dispatch, a witness did not
see any injuries, but saw the possible driver walking away.
The officers did not find the driver, but they did see a van
pass by on the road. The van briefly stopped in a nearby
driveway, pulled out, and departed. The officers ran a check
on the van's license plate and noticed it was registered
to another member of the same household that the vehicle in
the ditch had been registered to. One of the officers
followed the van and pulled it over. It turned out that the
driver of the car that had gone into the ditch was riding as
a passenger in the van, and he was wearing only one boot. He
was subsequently convicted of operating while intoxicated
appeal, we must decide whether the stop of the van was
permissible under the community caretaking doctrine. Guided
by our recent decision in State v. Coffman, 914
N.W.2d 240 (Iowa 2018), we conclude that it was not.
Accordingly, we hold that the stop of van violated article I,
section 8 of the Iowa Constitution. Therefore, we reverse the
judgment of conviction and sentence and the denial of the
motion to suppress, vacate the decision of the court of
appeals, and remand this case for further proceedings.
Facts and Procedural Background.
approximately 4:30 a.m. on Saturday, April 2, 2016,
sheriff's deputies were called to the scene of a
single-vehicle accident in Clarke County. Dispatch informed
Deputies Smith and Fitzpatrick that the vehicle was in a
roadside ditch. Dispatch also relayed that a passerby had
seen a possible driver walking away from the vehicle and had
not seen any injuries.
arriving at the scene, Deputy Fitzpatrick ran a check on the
license plate of the vehicle in the ditch and determined it
belonged to a Steven Smith with an Osceola address. Deputy
Smith drove around in search of the individual who had been
seen walking from the accident. Not finding anyone, he
reparked his patrol car next to the vehicle in the ditch. On
the front seat of that vehicle, he found a Minnesota
driver's license belonging to the defendant, Cody Smith.
There was no indication inside the vehicle that Cody had been
a van drove by. It pulled into the driveway of a nearby
residence, pulled back out of the driveway, and departed.
Officer Smith ran a check on the van's license plate and
determined it belonged to a Noreen Smith, who shared the same
Osceola address as Steven.
Smith followed the van and pulled it over. When asked why he
stopped the van, Deputy Smith testified,
I was checking on the welfare of the people. I also found it
suspicious that the vehicle driving by and the vehicle in the
ditch had the same address when that address is approximately
four miles southwest of where the vehicle in the ditch was
Smith further testified that he stopped the van because he
"believed that the individual involved in the accident
was either in the van, or those people were also looking ...