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State v. Werner

Supreme Court of Iowa

October 19, 2018

STATE OF IOWA, Appellee,
v.
JEREMY M. WERNER, Appellant.

          Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Iowa County, Patrick R. Grady (motion to suppress), Andrew B. Chappel (trial), and Mitchell E. Turner (sentencing), Judges.

         Defendant appeals his conviction for driving while his license was revoked, claiming the district court erred in denying his motion to suppress.

          Brandon Brown and Gina Messamer of Parrish, Kruidenier, Dunn, Boles, Gribble, Gentry, Brown & Bergmann, L.L.P., Des Moines, and Peter Riley of Tom Riley Law Firm, P.L.C., Cedar Rapids, for appellant.

          Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, David S. Gorham, Special Assistant Attorney General, and Robin G. Formaker, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee.

          MANSFIELD, JUSTICE.

         This case, although procedurally different from Rilea v. Iowa Department of Transportation, __ N.W.2d__ (Iowa 2018), presents many of the same issues. A motorist was stopped in August 2016 by an Iowa Department of Transportation (IDOT) Motor Vehicle Enforcement (MVE) officer for speeding in a construction zone. The MVE officer then determined that the motorist's driver's license had been revoked pursuant to Iowa Code chapter 321J. He arrested the motorist and took him to jail. The motorist was charged with, and later convicted of, driving while revoked in violation of Iowa Code 321J.21 (2016).

         This appeal presents the question of whether the motorist's motion to suppress evidence resulting from the stop should have been granted. Echoing the arguments in Rilea, the motorist maintains that the district court erred in finding the IDOT MVE officer had authority to stop and arrest him. He contends that IDOT MVE officers lacked authority in August 2016 to engage in general traffic enforcement under Iowa Code chapter 321. He also contends that the stop and arrest cannot be sustained as a citizen's arrest under section 804.9.

         We conclude the motorist's legal position is correct and, therefore, reverse the denial of the motion to suppress and vacate the conviction and sentence. In reaching this conclusion, we rely mostly on today's decision in Rilea, although we pause to consider a number of arguments raised only in this case.

         I. Facts and Procedural History.

         On August 18, 2016, Ryan Glade, a MVE officer with the IDOT, was on patrol in Iowa County. He saw a black BMW traveling eastbound on I-80 at what appeared to be in excess of the posted speed limit of fifty-five miles per hour for a construction zone. Officer Glade used a LIDAR (laser scanning) unit to detect the vehicle's actual speed of seventy-two miles per hour.

         Officer Glade pulled over the vehicle. The defendant, Jeremy Werner, was the driver and sole occupant of the vehicle. Werner admitted that he did not have a driver's license. Officer Glade ran a license check, which indicated that Werner's driving privileges had been revoked. Officer Glade gave Werner a citation for speeding. Officer Glade also arrested Werner and transported him to the Iowa County Jail in Marengo. That day, Officer Glade filed a complaint charging Werner with driving while revoked, a serious misdemeanor. See Iowa Code § 321J.21(1). A trial information was filed on August 30.

         On December 20, Werner filed a motion to suppress, asserting that Officer Glade was not authorized to make the traffic stop of his vehicle. Following a hearing, the district court denied the motion to suppress on April 27, 2017, for two reasons. First, the court explained that Officer Glade was a peace officer within the meaning of Iowa Code sections 321.1(50) and 801.4(11). The court noted that Iowa Code section 321.492 authorizes a peace officer "to stop a vehicle to require exhibition of the driver's license of the driver" and "to serve a summons or memorandum of traffic violation." See id. § 321.492(1). Second, the court concluded that "even if [Officer] Glade did not have the authority as an IDOT officer to stop Werner's vehicle, his conduct still resulted in a valid citizen's arrest." See id. § 804.9(1).

         Thereafter, the parties agreed to a trial on the minutes of testimony, and Werner was convicted of driving while under revocation. On July 17, Werner was sentenced to serve two days in jail and to pay a $1000 fine plus surcharges.

         Werner appealed his conviction and sentence, claiming that his motion to suppress should have been ...


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