from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, Arthur E.
motorist appeals a district court ruling denying his petition
for judicial review of an agency decision suspending his
driver's license for one year. AFFIRMED.
Matthew T. Lindholm of Gourley, Rehkemper, & Lindholm,
P.L.C., West Des Moines, for appellant.
J. Miller, Attorney General, and Robin G. Formaker, Assistant
Attorney General, for appellee.
case began when a driver tried to reverse course. But it
presents the question whether our court should
reverse course. Specifically, should we overrule precedent
and apply the exclusionary rule to driver's license
revocation proceedings when an Iowa statute dictates
Westendorf v. Iowa Department of Transportation, 400
N.W.2d 553, 557 (Iowa 1987), superseded by statute as
recognized by Brownsberger v. Department of
Transportation, 460 N.W.2d 449, 450-51 (Iowa 1990), we
declined to apply the exclusionary rule so long as the
enumerated statutory conditions for license revocation were
met. Later, the general assembly enacted a limited exception
to Westendorf. See Iowa Code §
321J.13(6) (2017). This requires the Iowa Department of
Transportation (DOT) to rescind revocation of a driver's
license if there has been a criminal prosecution for
operating while intoxicated (OWI) and the criminal case
determined that the peace officer did not have reasonable
grounds to believe a violation of the OWI laws had occurred
or that the chemical test was otherwise inadmissible or
invalid. We affirmed the limited nature of that exception in
Manders v. Iowa Department of Transportation, 454
N.W.2d 364, 366-67 (Iowa 1990).
present case, a driver was pulled over by a DOT officer after
he stopped on I-80 to make unauthorized use of a median
crossover in order to turn around and head in the other
direction. It turned out he had an open container in his car
and smelled of an alcoholic beverage. After he refused all
testing, his license was suspended for one year, but he was
never charged with OWI. Adhering to our Westendorf
and Manders precedents, the DOT upheld his license
suspension. Notably, the driver's only challenge to the
stop was that the DOT officer lacked statutory authority; the
driver did not contest reasonable suspicion for the stop. The
district court also denied relief, leading to this appeal.
now asked, in effect, to expand the legislature's
post-Westendorf statutory exception and apply the
exclusionary rule to all driver's license revocation
proceedings if there was any problem with the stop. For the
reasons discussed herein, we decline to do so and instead
adhere to the legislative boundaries of the exception when
the only legal flaw in the stop was the officer's lack of
statutory authority. Accordingly, we affirm the judgment of
the district court upholding the license revocation in this
Facts and Procedural History.
9, 2017, at approximately 12:26 a.m., Officer Austin Wilson
of the DOT was patrolling westbound on I-80, a four-lane
divided interstate highway, in Jasper County. At a location
where there was a median crossover marked for use by
authorized vehicles only, Officer Wilson observed an
eastbound vehicle coming to a stop. It appeared the driver
was preparing to use the crossover, turn around, and head
westbound. Officer Wilson took the crossover himself and when
the driver of the eastbound vehicle decided to keep going
eastbound on I-80, Officer Wilson pulled it over using his
driver of the vehicle, Alex Westra, admitted he had been
about to make a turnaround using the median crossing and knew
it was a bad idea. Officer Wilson noticed that Westra had
bloodshot and watery eyes and saw an open container of Four
Loko (an alcoholic beverage) within arm's reach. Westra
initially denied knowing there was a beverage can in his
vehicle. He refused to hand over the beverage can and refused
to step out of his vehicle.
backup officer arrived, Officer Wilson removed Westra from
his vehicle. Officer Wilson could smell the odor of an
alcoholic beverage coming from Westra's person. In
addition, on inspection, the can of Four Loko had only
one-quarter of its contents remaining.
declined to undergo any preliminary testing for intoxication.
Officer Wilson escorted Westra to the Jasper County jail
where Westra was read the implied consent advisory and made
two phone calls. Westra then refused to take the Datamaster
was never charged with OWI but was charged with two traffic
violations-stopping on a travelled portion of I-80 in
violation of Iowa Code section 321.354 and driving with an
open container of an alcoholic beverage in violation of
section 321.284. Westra filed a motion to suppress in the
traffic case, contending that Officer Wilson of the DOT
lacked statutory authority to stop him on May 9 on I-80.
See Rilea v. Iowa Dep't of Transp., 919 N.W.2d
380, 383 (Iowa 2018). The motion was overruled, and Westra
was found guilty and sentenced to pay fines of $100 and $200
respectively for the two violations. Westra appealed to the
district court, however, which found that the DOT stop was
invalid and dismissed the two citations.
the DOT notified Westra that his driver's license was
being revoked for one year under Iowa Code section 321J.9.
Westra requested an administrative hearing, and on July 11 he
received a telephonic hearing before an administrative law
judge (ALJ). The issue at the hearing was whether DOT Officer
Wilson had statutory authority to stop Westra's vehicle.
The ALJ entered a decision on August 15 finding that he did.
The ALJ reasoned that "Officer Wilson was operating
within his authority as a designated peace officer under
[section] 321J.8(3)" relating to enforcement of OWI
laws. As the ALJ explained,
Although he could not have been assured that the driver of
the pickup he observed that night was impaired by alcohol or
other substances, he did see it was being operated in an
erratic or illegal manner which can be a part of a finding of
reasonable grounds for a possible violation of section 321J.2
as set out above. It is reasonable to find the
Appellant's actions of coming to a stop on a traveled
portion of a two-lane interstate highway and doing so in a
proximity to a median cross-over lane he could not legally
use were valid reasons for Officer Wilson [to] perform a
traffic stop at that time.
appealed this decision to the director of the DOT. On
September 21, the director agreed with the ALJ that Officer
Wilson had statutory authority to enforce the OWI laws as to
Westra. He also found that Westra's argument for
suppression of his refusal to take the chemical test was
immaterial because the exclusionary rule did not apply to
this driver's license revocation proceeding.
petitioned for judicial review in the Polk County District
Court. Following a hearing, the district court issued a
ruling on May 17, 2018. The district court found that
"Officer Wilson did not have statutory authority to stop
Westra." However, it declined to hold under article I,
section 8 of the Iowa Constitution that the exclusionary rule
applied to Westra's license revocation proceeding. It
also rejected Westra's alternative argument that article
I, section 9 of the Iowa Constitution (the Due Process
Clause) required exclusion of Westra's refusal to take
the Datamaster chemical test. Westra appealed and we retained
Standard of Review.
findings of the DOT are reviewed for substantial evidence
unless the underlying claim is a constitutional one, in which
case review of facts is de novo. See Iowa Code
§ 17A.19(10)(f). Both parties agree that we do
not defer to the DOT's interpretations of Iowa Code
section 321J.13(6) or, of course, to the DOT's views on
the Iowa Constitution. See id. §
17A.19(10)(c); Bearinger v. Iowa Dep't of
Transp., 844 N.W.2d 104, 106 (Iowa 2014).
Whether Officer Wilson Had Authority to Stop Westra.
first question is whether Officer Wilson had statutory
authority to stop Westra on I-80 on May 9, 2017. Westra's
claim goes away if Officer Wilson had such authority. In
Rilea, we held that until new legislation became
effective on May 11, DOT officers lacked authority to issue
traffic citations unrelated to operating authority,
registration, size, weight, or load. 919 N.W.2d at 383.
However, we also clarified that Iowa Code chapter 321J
provided a separate font of authority, and "an IDOT
[motor vehicle enforcement] officer, if properly trained, can
enforce chapter 321J." Id. at 392. In doing so,
we relied on Iowa Code section 321J.1(8)(e), which
states that a "peace officer" for purposes of
chapter 321J includes "[a]ny other law enforcement
officer who has satisfactorily completed an approved course
relating to motor vehicle operators under the influence of
alcoholic beverages." Id.
decided another case the same day. See State v.
Werner, 919 N.W.2d 375 (Iowa 2018). Werner
involved a motorist who had been stopped by a DOT officer for
speeding and who was only later determined to have been
driving under revocation in violation of Iowa Code section
321J.21. Id. at 376. Under these circumstances, we
concluded the State could not rely on the DOT officer's
chapter 321J enforcement authority. Id. at 380. We
noted, "Whatever merit this argument may have in other
contexts, there is no indication Officer Glade knew or
suspected Werner's driver's license had been revoked
for operating while intoxicated when he made the August 18
believe the quoted language from Werner controls
here. On this record, we are not persuaded that Officer
Wilson "knew or suspected" Westra was driving under
the influence when he stopped his vehicle. Officer
Wilson's testimony contains no inkling of this.
found that Officer Wilson could rely on his enforcement
authority in chapter 321J based on the following reasoning:
"[H]e did see [the vehicle] was being operated in an
erratic or illegal matter which can be a part of a finding of
reasonable grounds for a possible violation of section 321J.2
as set out above." If this were a finding that Officer
Wilson was actually engaged in OWI enforcement when he
stopped Westra, it might carry the day. However, this was
merely a finding that the driving behavior Officer Wilson
observed could have helped provide the basis for a
reasonable suspicion finding. Under Werner, Officer
Wilson's stop was invalid.
Whether Article I, Section 8 Required Suppression of
Westra's Refusal to Take the Chemical Test.
we agree with the district court that Officer Wilson lacked
statutory authority to stop Westra on I-80, we must consider
whether the Iowa Constitution required suppression of
Westra's refusal to take the chemical test and, thus,
would require us to unwind his license revocation. To do so,
we will first review the relevant statutes and caselaw
relating to license revocation hearings. Then we will address
the heart of Westra's argument.
License revocations in Iowa and the evidence that can be
considered. As of 1985, Iowa law provided that a license
shall be limited to the issues of whether a peace officer had
reasonable grounds to believe that the person was operating a
motor vehicle in violation of section 321.281 [now section
321J.2] and either of the following:
a. Whether the person refused to submit to the test
b. Whether a test was administered and the test
results indicated an alcohol concentration [above the legal
Iowa Code § 321B.26(a)-(b) (1985).
Westendorf, a case decided under this law, we held
that the Fourth Amendment exclusionary rule did not apply to
driver's license revocation proceedings. 400 N.W.2d at
557. The driver sought to challenge his license revocation on
the ground that the police officer had lacked probable cause
to stop his vehicle. Id. at 554. The district court
agreed and overturned the revocation. Id. We,
however, reversed and reinstated the revocation. Id.
pointed out that "the statutory conditions for
revocation by the department were clearly satisfied."
Id. at 555. We acknowledged,
Had the evidence demonstrated that any one of the listed
statutory conditions was not present-for example that the
officer did not have "reasonable grounds to believe
Westendorf had been operating the motor vehicle in violation
of section 321.281" the department would not have been
warranted in revoking Westendorf's driver's license.
Id. Yet in the absence of such a statutory ground
for excluding the evidence, we held that the driver could not
challenge his license revocation under the Fourth Amendment.
Id. at 556-57. We explained,
The benefit of using reliable information of intoxication in
license revocation proceedings, even when that evidence is
inadmissible in criminal proceedings, outweighs the possible
benefit of applying the exclusionary rule to deter unlawful
conduct. Consequently, the exclusionary rule formulated under
the fourth and fourteenth amendments was inapplicable in this
license revocation proceeding.
Id. at 557.
following year, the general assembly amended the law to
provide drivers with certain additional grounds for
challenging license revocations. See 1988 Iowa Acts
ch. 1214, § 2 (codified at Iowa Code ...