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State v. Davis

Supreme Court of Iowa

January 18, 2019

STATE OF IOWA, Appellee,
v.
ROBERT ARTHUR DAVIS, Appellant.

          On review from the Iowa Court of Appeals.

         Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Muscatine County, Gary P. Strausser, District Associate Judge.

         Robert Davis seeks further review of a court of appeals decision affirming his conviction for operating while intoxicated, second offense, and upholding a district court ruling denying his motion to suppress. DECISION OF COURT OF APPEALS AND JUDGMENT OF DISTRICT COURT AFFIRMED.

          Kent A. Simmons, Bettendorf, for appellant.

          Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, and Timothy M. Hau, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee.

          MANSFIELD, Justice.

         A deputy responded to a motor vehicle accident in the midst of a snowstorm. One of the drivers smelled of an alcoholic beverage, he failed a horizontal-gaze nystagmus test, and his wife admitted they had been drinking. Because of the bad weather conditions, the deputy decided to transport him to a protected location-the sally port of the nearby law enforcement center-for the completion of field sobriety testing. The driver requested the opportunity to talk to his wife before leaving the scene, but the deputy denied the request and informed the driver he could talk to her after the field sobriety testing. The driver later failed two field sobriety tests at the sally port. He was arrested, moved to the jail's intake room, and given the opportunity to call his wife and attorney. After speaking with his attorney, the driver submitted to a chemical breath test which revealed a blood alcohol concentration of .128. The driver was subsequently charged with and convicted of operating while intoxicated, second offense.

         We are asked to decide whether the driver's rights under Iowa Code section 804.20 were violated when the deputy denied his request to call his wife until after field sobriety testing occurred at the sally port. We conclude they were not because the sally port was a location for testing, not a "place of detention" within the meaning of Iowa Code section 804.20. Accordingly, we affirm the driver's conviction and sentence and the decision of the court of appeals.

         I. Background Facts and Proceedings.

         On February 25, 2015, at 10:38 p.m., Muscatine County Sheriff's Deputy Edward Cardenas responded to a report of a motor vehicle collision. Weather and road conditions at the time were poor: snow was actively falling, visibility was reduced, and the roads were slippery and one hundred percent snow-covered. Two or three inches of snow were already on the ground. When Deputy Cardenas arrived, several officers and emergency personnel were already on the scene. Deputy Cardenas was assigned to handle the accident report and subsequent investigation.

         Deputy Cardenas contacted the Davises, whose vehicle had been involved in the collision. They were sitting in the back of their Toyota Tundra which was off of the road in a ditch. Deputy Cardenas detected the slight odor of ingested alcohol emanating from inside the vehicle. While emergency medical technicians (EMTs) took Mr. Davis into an ambulance for evaluation, Deputy Cardenas spoke with Davis's wife. Davis's wife told Deputy Cardenas that they had been returning home from supper, that Davis had been driving, and that they both had previously consumed alcohol.

         Deputy Cardenas then spoke with Davis individually after the EMTs had completed their assessment. Deputy Cardenas detected the odor of alcohol wafting directly from Davis's person. Davis admitted he had had three rum and colas. Deputy Cardenas also observed that Davis had bloodshot and watery eyes. Deputy Cardenas conducted a horizontal-gaze nystagmus test on Davis and found six out of six possible signs of impairment.

         Deputy Cardenas told Davis he suspected him of being under the influence of alcohol and wanted to conduct further field sobriety testing. Deputy Cardenas explained to Davis that because of the weather conditions, he would have to transport him to the Muscatine County Jail to perform the field sobriety testing in a controlled environment. Davis said something to his wife about calling his attorney while he continued to cooperate with Deputy Cardenas.

         At approximately 10:57 p.m., Deputy Cardenas escorted Davis to his patrol car where he seated him in the rear without handcuffs. Deputy Cardenas also read the Miranda rights to Davis out of an abundance of caution. While Davis was in the squad car but before they embarked, Davis asked Deputy Cardenas if he could talk to his wife before leaving the scene. Deputy Cardenas replied, "Once we are done you can. Not right now."

         Deputy Cardenas then went up to Davis's wife and informed her that he was transporting Davis to the sally port (i.e., garage) at the jail to perform field sobriety testing. Deputy Cardenas also retrieved Davis's cell phone from her so Davis could use it later. While Deputy Cardenas and Davis were en route, Deputy Cardenas explained to Davis,

I have your cell phone, it's in my pocket, and I will give that to you as soon as we get down to the jail. And basically what we are using the jail for is we are using it for their garage, so we can be outside this weather so I can do a couple more tests on you, give you an opportunity to complete those tests, and we can go from there, okay? And if we determine that we don't need to go further, then I can bring you back to your residence.

         At approximately 11:14 p.m., Deputy Cardenas and Davis arrived at the sally port. Davis performed two field sobriety tests for Deputy Cardenas. Based on the results of these tests, at approximately 11:23 p.m., Deputy Cardenas placed Davis under arrest for operating while intoxicated and took Davis to the jail's intake room. At 11:25 p.m., Deputy Cardenas advised Davis he was allowed to place a phone call to anyone he wished.

         Davis first called his wife and asked her to call his attorney. Deputy Cardenas inquired of Davis if he wished to place any further calls. Davis then contacted his attorney, Greg Johnston, at approximately 11:32 p.m. After speaking to Johnston, Davis declined to answer any further questions or sign any documents until Johnston had appeared.

         At this point, Deputy Cardenas read Davis the implied-consent advisory and formally requested Davis to provide a breath sample for chemical testing. Deputy Cardenas, however, allowed Davis to wait to make a decision on whether or not to refuse chemical testing until he had a chance to speak personally with Johnston. Upon arrival, Johnston engaged in discussion with Davis, within view but out of earshot of Cardenas. After consulting with his attorney, Davis submitted to a chemical breath test, which indicated a blood alcohol concentration of .128.

         On March 30, 2015, Davis was charged by trial information with operating while intoxicated, second offense. See Iowa Code § 321J.2(1) (2015). Davis filed a motion to suppress evidence gathered from both the field sobriety tests and the chemical breath test, alleging the evidence had been obtained in violation of his statutory right to communicate with counsel or a family member under Iowa Code section 804.20.

         Following a hearing, the district court held the field sobriety tests performed at the jail's sally port should be suppressed because Davis was denied the opportunity to contact his wife after being detained for field sobriety testing. The district court found Davis had been "restrained of his liberty" within the meaning of Iowa Code section 804.20. The district court also found the jail's sally port was a "place of detention" within the meaning of section 804.20. However, the district court held the results of Davis's chemical breath test should not be suppressed because Davis had an opportunity to consult with both his wife and his attorney before submitting to that test. The court found,

The State's misconduct by violating Iowa Code section 804.20 ended when the defendant was allowed to consult with his wife by phone and his attorney in person. From that point forward there was no violation of Iowa Code Section ...

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