Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Minnesota DWI Lawyer F. T. Sessoms Blogs on Minnesota DWI: This Week's Featured Minnesota DWI Case

The Minnesota DWI Case Of The Week is Jensen v. Commissioner of Public Safety (Decided September 3, 2019, Minnesota Court of Appeals, Published) which stands for the proposition that the advisory must be read before the Commissioner can conduct a pre-hearing license revocation pursuant to Minnesota Statute §171.177.

In Jensen, the arresting police officer obtained a search warrant to draw and test Pauline Jensen’s blood after she drove into and injured a child with her car and failed field sobriety tests. The blood test showed that Jensen’s alcohol concentration exceeded the statutory limit, and the commissioner of public safety revoked her license under Minnesota Statutes, section 171.177, subdivision 5.

Jensen petitioned for judicial review, arguing that her driver’s license should be reinstated because the sergeant had not warned her that test refusal is a crime, as required by Minnesota Statutes, section 171.177, subdivision 1 (2018).  The District Court sustained the license revocation but on Appeals, the Minnesota Court of Appeals reversed the lower court stating:

"The statute requires that, “[a]t the time a blood or urine test is directed pursuant to a search warrant. . . , the person must be informed that refusal to submit to a blood or urine test is a crime.” Minn. Stat. § 171.177, subd. 1. We recently concluded that the warning requirement is unambiguous, has no exceptions, and requires an officer to inform an individual of the criminal consequences of test refusal even when a warrant authorizes the blood draw. State v. Mike, 919 N.W.2d 103, 110 (Minn. App. 2018), review granted (Minn. Nov. 13, 2018)."
***
"The procedures in section 171.177 largely mirror those stated in the implied-consent statutes, requiring a warning of criminal consequences at the time a test is directed or requested. Compare Minn. Stat. § 171.177, subd. 1, with Minn. Stat. § 169A.51, subd. 2 (2018). The statutes also detail the same procedure for review of a revocation. Compare Minn. Stat. § 171.177, subds. 10-12 (2012), with Minn. Stat. § 169A.53 (2018). The history of section 171.177 and its obvious relationship to the implied-consent statutes leads us to apply to section 171.177 the caselaw relied on to interpret the related implied-consent statutes."

"The supreme court’s decision in Tyler v. Commissioner of Public Safety is most instructive. 368 N.W.2d 275, 280-81 (Minn. 1985). Tyler compels us to hold that the deputy’s failure to provide the statutorily required warning precluded the district court from upholding Jensen’s revocation. Id. The Tyler court held that complying with the warning requirement was necessary before revoking a license under the implied-consent law: “[W]e believe that the legislature intended that a driver’s license be revoked pursuant to the implied consent law . . . only if the provisions of the law were complied with.” Id. at281 (emphasis added). And a license revocation cannot be sustained if the refusal-is-a-crime warning was not given. Id. Following this reasoning, we hold that a license can be revoked under section 171.177 only if the officer followed the warning requirement."
***
"It is true that, if Jensen had refused to submit to the test, the sergeant could have drawn and tested her blood anyway. But an officer’s authority to obtain a test despite the driver’s refusal does not eliminate his duty to give the warning “at the time a blood or urine test is directed.” Minn. Stat. § 171.177, subd. 1. Nor does the authority render the warning irrelevant. As we have explained, the purpose of the warning is “to inform a driver of the serious consequences of refusal in an effort to compel the driver to take the test,” not to inform the driver that she has the option to refuse. Mike, 919 N.W.2d at 113. And a driver can commit the crime of test refusal even if she is ultimately forced to submit to a test. See Minn. Stat. §§ 169A.20, subd. 2(2), 171.177, subd. 13(a)-(b) (2018). Because refusing a test carries the same criminal consequences whether or not the state can force a test, and because the purpose of the warning is to inform drivers of the criminal consequences of refusal, the warning serves its purpose and is not irrelevant in these circumstances. The refusal-is-a-crime warning is required before the commissioner may secure a pre-hearing license revocation."

Moral Of The Story:  Police must warn you before your license can be revoked!

If you or a loved one have been arrested for a Minnesota DWI, or are facing a DWI forfeiture of your motor vehicle, feel free to contact Minnesota DWI Lawyer, F. T. Sessoms at (612) 344-1505 for answers to all of your Minnesota DWI questions.



Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Minnesota DWI Attorney F. T. Sessoms Blogs on Minnesota DWI: This Week's Featured Minnesota DWI Case

The Minnesota DWI Case Of The Week is State v. Howell (Decided August 26, 2019, Minnesota Court of Appeals, Unpublished), which stands for the proposition that there is no right to counsel, even for a DWI refusal, when the test is requested pursuant to a search warrant.  I can't blame the Court of Appeals for this decision as they are just following the recent Minnesota Supreme Court decision of State v. Rosenbush.  The problem is Rosenbush ( a 4 to 3 decision) makes no sense.

In Howell, the Defendant was arrested for DWI and while at the jail, the officer obtained a search warrant for Howell’s blood. The officer advised Howell that refusal to submit to blood-alcohol testing is a crime and asked Howell if he would submit to a blood or urine test. See Minn. Stat. § 171.177, subd. 1 (Supp. 2017) (“At the time a blood or urine test is directed pursuant to a search warrant under sections 626.04 to 626.18, the person must be informed that refusal to submit to a blood or urine test is a crime.”). Howell asked for a lawyer, but was not allowed to contact one. Howell refused to provide a sample for testing.

Howell contended that the police violated his limited right to counsel under the Minnesota Constitution because he requested counsel before the police asked him to submit to chemical testing and the police did not accommodate that request.  

The Minnesota Court of Appeals rejected Howell's argument stating:

"After oral argument in this case, the supreme court decided State v. Rosenbush, which squarely addresses the issue presented in this case: whether a driver arrested on suspicion of DWI and presented with a search warrant authorizing a search of his blood has a limited right to counsel under article I, section 6 of the Minnesota Constitution, as recognized in Friedman, before deciding whether to submit to chemical testing."
***
"The supreme court agreed with the state and held that the limited right to counsel established in Friedman does not apply when an individual is asked to submit to a blood test pursuant to a warrant. Id. at * 1, *5-6. The supreme court reasoned that “the existence of a search warrant eliminates many of the concerns that led [it] to expand the right to counsel in Friedman,” explaining that when a suspected impaired driver is presented with a search warrant for a blood or urine test, “the driver is not meeting his adversary in the same manner as the driver in Friedman because a neutral judicial officer has determined that the police may lawfully obtain a sample of the driver’s blood."

What the Supreme Court in Rosenbush totally fails to address is the rationale for Friedman, to wit:  When a person has been placed under arrest for DWI and been asked to submit to testing, the arrestee is facing IMMEDIATE CONSEQUENCES for their testing decision.  If they refuse, they immediately lose their license for one year and are facing prosecution for the gross misdemeanor crime of refusal.  It was these "immediate consequences" of the testing decision that led the Supreme Court in Friedman to hold that a person has the right to consult with counsel prior to testing.  The fact that a "neutral and detached" magistrate has reviewed the warrant application has nothing to do with the testing dilemma facing the person under arrest for DWI.  

Rosenbush is a stupid decision. Period.

Moral Of The Story: You can be the supreme court and still not get it right.

If you or a loved one have been arrested for a Minnesota DWI, or are facing a DWI forfeiture of your motor vehicle, feel free to contact Minnesota DWI Attorney, F. T. Sessoms at (612) 344-1505 for answers to all of your Minnesota DWI questions.


Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Minneapolis DWI Attorney F. T. Sessoms Blogs on Minnesota DWI: This Week's Featured Minnesota DWI Case

The Minnesota DWI Case Of The Week is State v. Kalkbrenner (Decided August 12, 2019, Minnesota Court of Appeals, Unpublished) which stands for the proposition that the police can make stuff up to justify an automobile stop and as long as the court calls their claim a "reasonable mistake of fact" the stop will be upheld.

In Kalkbrenner, a police officer observed that the taillights on appellant’s vehicle were not illuminated and initiated a traffic stop. While speaking with appellant, the officer noticed multiple indicia of intoxication and placed appellant under arrest. Appellant was charged with third-degree impaired driving and a taillight infraction. Appellant moved to suppress the evidence obtained as a result of the stop, arguing that the officer mistakenly thought the vehicle’s taillights were not illuminated and his mistake was objectively unreasonable. The parties stipulated to the underlying facts of the case and submitted the police reports and a statement from an automotive expert, which stated it is impossible to turn on the headlights without also turning on the taillights and that an examination of the vehicle four days after the stop indicated that all the lights were in working order. The district court did not hear any testimony and decided the matter based on the stipulated facts and briefing by the parties. The court assumed that the officer’s “observation of the taillights on [appellant]’s vehicle [w]as a mistake of fact,” and denied the motion to suppress on the ground that the officer’s mistake was reasonable.

On appeal the Minnesota Court of Appeals upheld the district court, stating:

"Given the unrebutted expert testimony and the report from the body shop, the district court found that the officer “may have made a mistake of fact” regarding the taillights. However, the court concluded that “[b]ased upon the stipulated record before the Court, assuming [the officer]’s observation of the taillights on [the] vehicle as a mistake of fact, the Officer’s mistake was reasonable.”2 Minnesota law recognizes that an officer’s “honest, reasonable mistakes of fact are unobjectionable under the Fourth Amendment.” State v. Licari, 659 N.W.2d 243, 254 (Minn. 2003). Further, a good-faith and reasonable mistake of fact will not invalidate an otherwise valid stop. See State v. Sanders, 339 N.W.2d 557, 560 (Minn. 1983) (holding that stop based on a reasonable mistake of identify was lawful). Even if the officer made a mistake of fact as to the taillights, there is no evidence in this record that his mistake was the product of “mere whim, caprice, or idle curiosity” or unreasonable. State v. Pike, 551 N.W.2d 919, 921-22 (Minn. 1996). As such, the officer’s traffic stop was not “unobjectionable under the Fourth Amendment.” Licari, 659 N.W.2d at 254."

I can't object to the appellate court's analysis as they were stuck with the district court's finding that the mistake was "reasonable". But the district court's ruling that the mistake was "reasonable" is absurd.  Either the tail lights were on or they were off.  Their condition is not something that is "reasonably mistaken". I know that when I drive down the highway, I often cannot tell if the car in front of me has working tail lights at night.  I mean, give me a break.

Moral Of The Story:  Get the squad video for every DWI case.



If you or a loved one have been charged with a Minnesota DWI, feel free to contact Minneapolis DWI Attorney, F. T. Sessoms at (612) 344-1505 for answers to all of your Minnesota DWI and DUI questions.





Monday, August 5, 2019

Minneapolis DWI Lawyer F. T. Sessoms Blogs on Minnesota DWI: This Week's Featured Minnesota DWI Case

The Minnesota DWI Case of the Week is State v. Preston (Decided August 5, 2019, Minnesota Court of Appeals, Unpublished) which stands for the proposition that the police may conduct a traffic stop if they observe a partially obscured license plate.

In Preston, Beltrami County Sheriff's Deputy Bender was monitoring traffic when the Defendant drove past.  The Deputy was unable to read Defendant's license plate number as it was obstructed by a dangling light.

Deputy Bender initiated a traffic stop. He then approached the car and recognized the Defendant. Deputy Bender knew Defendant's driver’s license was cancelled. Preston was arrested and Deputy Bender searched the vehicle and found numerous smoking devices, marijuana, and an open container of alcoholic iced tea. Appellant admitted to smoking methamphetamine six hours earlier. A search warrant was obtained and executed, and appellant’s blood tested positive for methamphetamine.

Defendant was charged with driving after cancellation, DWI and 5th Degree possession. Mr. Preston filed a motion to suppress arguing the initial stop of his vehicle was not valid. 

The District Court denied the motion to suppress and on appeal, the Minnesota Court of Appeals affirmed, stating:

"Minnesota law prohibits obstructing the view of a license plate. “The person driving the motor vehicle shall keep the plate legible and unobstructed ... so that the lettering is plainly visible at all times.” Minn. Stat. § 169.79, subd. 7 (2016). In finding that appellant violated this traffic law, the district court relied on a photograph of the license plate and testimony from Deputy Bender. The photograph, taken at the time of the traffic stop, shows a light dangling over the last three letters of the license plate. One letter is obstructed and another letter is partially obstructed. Further, Deputy Bender testified that the light made the license plate “difficult to see.” Because the record supports the district court’s factual finding that the license plate was obstructed and this provided Deputy Bender with a reasonable, articulable suspicion to stop appellant’s vehicle, we affirm."

Moral Of The Story: He should have joined the "clean plate" club!



If you or a loved one have been charged with a Minnesota DWI, feel free to contact Minneapolis DWI Lawyer, F. T. Sessoms at (612) 344-1505 for answers to all of your Minnesota DWI and DUI questions.


Monday, July 1, 2019

Minnesota DWI Lawyer F. T. Sessoms Blogs on Minnesota DWI: This Week's Featured Minnesota DWI Case

The Minnesota DWI Case Of The Week is State v. Cunningham (Decided July 1, 2019, Minnesota Court of Appeals, Unpublished) which stands, once again, for the well established rule that if a police officer observes a traffic violation, the officer has a sufficient basis to make the stop of the vehicle. Yawn.

In Cunningham, Minneapolis Police Officer Andrew Braun and his partner were on patrol driving eastbound on Plymouth Avenue North. The officers had a green light as they approached the intersection of Plymouth and Washington Avenue North. When the officers were approximately 75 to 100 yards away from the intersection, they saw five or six vehicles speed through the intersection travelling southbound on Washington. Because the light was green for traffic going east on Plymouth, Officer Braun knew that traffic going north and south on Washington had a red light.

The officers conducted a traffic stop on a white truck, driven by appellant, which was a part of the convoy of vehicles that had gone through the red light on Washington.  Based upon events after the stop of Cunningham’s truck, Mr. Cunningham was charged with one count of operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol in violation of Minn. Stat. § 169A.20, subd. 1(1) (2016).

The Defendant was convicted after a trial on stipulated facts and on appeal,Cunningham argues that there was no reasonable, articulable suspicion to support Officer Braun’s stop of his truck, and that the district court erred by denying his motion to suppress the evidence obtained from the stop.

The Minnesota Court of Appeals affirmed the district court, noting:

"...a police officer may initiate a limited, investigative stop without a warrant if the officer has reasonable, articulable suspicion of criminal activity. State v. Munson, 594 N.W.2d 128, 136 (Minn. 1999) (citing Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1, 88 S. Ct. 1868 (1968)). The reasonable-suspicion standard is not a high one, State v. Diede, 795 N.W.2d 836, 843 (Minn. 2011), but the investigatory stop may not be the result of “mere whim, caprice or idle curiosity,” State v. Pike, 551 N.W.2d 919, 921-22 (Minn. 1996). If an officer observes a violation of a traffic law, even one that is insignificant, there is an objective basis for an investigatory stop. State v. George, 557 N.W.2d 575, 578 (Minn. 1997).

Cunningham also argued that the officer's testimony should not have been believed by the district court after Cunningham testified that he did not run a red light.  

The appellate court, however, rejected his argument, pointing out:

"This court gives deference to the fact-finder—especially where resolution of the case depends on conflicting testimony—because weighing the credibility of witnesses is its exclusive function.  State v. Pieschke, 295 N.W.2d 580, 584 (Minn. 1980)."

Moral Of The Story: Some appeals are just stupid. 

If you or a loved one have been arrested for a Minnesota DWI, or are facing a DWI forfeiture of your motor vehicle, feel free to contact Minnesota DWI Lawyer, F. T. Sessoms at (612) 344-1505 for answers to all of your Minnesota DWI questions.


Monday, June 24, 2019

Minnesota DWI Attorney F. T. Sessoms Blogs on Minnesota DWI: This Week's Featured Minnesota DWI Case

The Minnesota DWI Case Of The Week is State v. Handeland (Decided June 24, 2019, Minnesota Court of Appeals, Unpublished) which stands for the proposition that ANY time spent in a Minnesota jail or for a mental evaluation must be credited when imposing jail time for an unrelated offense.

In 2012, the Defendant was convicted of First Degree DWI in Mille Lacs County and was given a sentence of 42 months stayed, with the Defendant to serve to 180 days jail, 60 of which were done in the jail facility with the remainder on electronic home monitoring. 

Mr. Handeland was arrested in April 2016 in Benton County for Felony DWI.  The District Court in Benton County found the Defendant incompetent to stand trial and he was ordered into the state's competency restoration program at the  Anoka County Treatment Center. Mr. Handeland was found competent in November 2016 and his Benton County case resumed, resulting in a guilty plea in April 2018.

In between the Defendant's return to competency and his April 2018 plea, he managed to get arrested on two separate fifth-degree controlled-substance offenses and spent additional days in local jails related to those offenses.

At the Defendant's 2018 sentencing in Benton County, the district court sentenced Handeland to 60 months in prison, stayed execution of the sentence and placed him on probation for seven years. The court awarded the Defendant 194 days of jail credit.

Mille Lacs County then brought the Defendant back to face a probation revocation hearing. The district revoked Handeland's probation and sentenced him to 42 months in prison and only awarded the Defendant eight days of custody credit.  How stupid!

On appeal, the Minnesota Court of Appeals reversed the lack of custody credit and does a nice job explaining when a Defendant is entitled to credit for jail time and treatment. As stated by the Court:

"Between his 2012 Mille Lacs County arrest for DWI and the 2018 execution of his 42-month sentence for that DWI, Handeland spent approximately 389 days in custody. Those days largely fall into three buckets: the days spent in the Mille Lacs County jail related to the 2012 DWI; the days spent in local jails related to other convictions (primarily an additional DWI arrest and conviction in Benton County) and days spent in examination and treatment as part of his competency restoration. To properly calculate Handeland’s custody credit, we first address the Mille Lacs County jail time, clearly related to the underlying DWI conviction. Next, because both the second and third buckets of days involve unconnected cases, we then turn to the issue of how to evaluate credit for intrajurisdictional custody. Finally, we address the custody-credit standards for secure treatment for competency-restoration purposes."

60 Days In Mille Lacs County Jail:

"The Minnesota Rules of Criminal Procedure clearly state that a criminal defendant is entitled to jail credit for time spent in custody “in connection with the offense or behavioral incident being sentenced.” Minn. R. Crim. P. 27.03, subd. 4(B) (emphasis added). As the state concedes on appeal, although these days were not discussed at Handeland’s probation-violation hearing, they clearly were time spent in custody in connection with the original sentence and should count as custody credit."

Credit for Custody in Unconnected Cases:

In State v. Brown, the Minnesota Supreme Court held that jail time spent out-of-state will not be credited unless it is connected to the offense for which the Defendant is being sentenced.  But this does not apply to in-state, but unrelated cases.  The reason is, "In evaluating credit for intrajurisdictional custody, we seek to avoid four potential concerns: “de facto conversion of a concurrent sentence into a consecutive sentence; indigent persons serving effectively longer sentences as a result of their inability to post bail; irrelevant factors . . . affecting the length of incarceration; and manipulation of charging dates by the prosecutor so as to increase the length of incarceration"(citations omitted).

"Having reviewed the governing approach to intrajurisdictional credit, we turn to the time Handeland spent in other local jails. This constitutes 194 days—primarily related to the Benton County DWI—between his original Mille Lacs County sentencing and his probation revocation five years later....To deny credit without evaluating these days in light of the intrajurisdictional approach described above was error."

Mental Health Treatment Credit:

The Court of Appeals notes that Rule 20.01, subd. 11, states: "If the defendant is convicted, any time spent confined to a hospital or other facility for a mental examination under this rule must be credited as time served."

"As the state suggests, the rule only dictates jail credit for the examination period. Minn. R. Crim. P. 20.01, subd. 11. But our inquiry does not end with this rule. As this court explained in Bonafide, the language of the rule may simply not address—rather than affirmatively exclude—credit for competency-restoration treatment during a commitment."

"And to examine this issue of credit for treatment, the Bonafide court first looked at the supreme court’s expansion of custodial credit, in light of “the philosophy behind the rule.” Id. at 214. This court also, citing other state court decisions, explained that “the degree of deprivation of liberty in a mental commitment facility is equivalent to a jail or prison facility.” Id. And this court took note of the ABA Criminal Justice Mental Health Standard, which provides that a defendant detained for examination of competence “or treatment... to effect competence to stand trial should receive credit against any sentence ultimately imposed for the time of such pretrial confinement.” Id. at 215. As a result, the Bonafide court interpreted rules 20.01 and 27.03, subd. 4, as requiring credit against sentence for custodial time spent in a secure hospital under a rule 20 presentence commitment procedure.  We see no reason to retreat from Bonafide, to the more restrictive reading of rule 20 the state suggests."

Moral Of The Story:  In Minnesota, we give credit where credit is due!

If you or a loved one have been arrested for a Minnesota DWI, or are facing a DWI forfeiture of your motor vehicle, feel free to contact Minnesota DWI Attorney, F. T. Sessoms at (612) 344-1505 for answers to all of your Minnesota DWI questions.









Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Minneapolis DWI Attorney F. T. Sessoms Blogs on Minnesota DWI: This Week's Featured Minnesota DWI Case

The Minnesota DWI Case Of The Week is State v. Anderson (Decided June 17, 2019, Minnesota Court of Appeals, Published) which stands for the proposition that the use of a prior implied consent license revocation to enhance the severity of the current DWI charge does not violate due process provided the prior implied consent license revocation is "final" prior to the conviction for the current offense.  This case just basically follows State v. Wiltgen, 737 N.W.2d 561 (Minn. 2007).

In Anderson, the defendant was arrested for DWI on October 2, 2016 and on December 18, 2016.  Anderson filed a challenge to the October DWI license revocation but in April 2017, Anderson waived his right to further judicial review of the October license revocation.

On August 7, 2017. the state charged Anderson with 2nd Degree DWI Refusal using the October license revocation to enhance the charges stemming from his December 2016 arrest.

The Defendant filed a Motion To Dismiss the 2nd degree charge arguing that at the time the December offense was committed, the challenge to the October license revocation was not "final" and the revocation could not be used to enhance the present charge.  The Court of Appeals rejected the argument stating"

"The United States and Minnesota Constitutions guarantee due process of law for criminal defendants. U.S. Const, amend. XIV, § 1; Minn. Const, art. I, § 7. Due process requires an “opportunity to be heard at a meaningful time and in a meaningful manner.” State v. Krause, 817 N.W.2d 136, 145 (Minn. 2012) (quoting Mathews v. Eldridge, 424 U.S. 319, 333, 96 S. Ct. 893, 902 (1976)) (other quotation omitted). The United States Supreme Court has held that when an administrative proceeding, such as a license revocation, plays a “critical role” in imposing a subsequent criminal sanction, “there must be some meaningful review of the administrative proceeding.” United States v. Mendoza-Lopez, 481 U.S. 828, 837-38, 107 S. Ct. 2148, 2155 (1987). Accordingly, some “means of obtaining judicial review must be made available before the administrative order may be used to establish conclusively an element of a criminal offense."
***
"In Wiltgen, the supreme court applied the three-part test established in Mathews v. Eldridge. Id. at 568-70 (citing Mathews, 424 U.S. at 335, 96 S. Ct. at 903). After weighing the Mathews factors, the supreme court determined that the combined private interest and risk of an erroneous deprivation outweighed the government interest. Id. The supreme court held that the potential prejudice to the defendant “from the use of an unreviewed administrative revocation to enhance a subsequent DWI rises to the level of a violation of [the defendant’s] right to procedural due process.” Id. at 570."

"In footnote seven of Wiltgen, the supreme court considered whether the state was prejudiced by its ruling and determined that it was not. Id. at 572 n.7. The supreme court reasoned that, in future cases, the state “can delay the issuance of a second-degree DWI complaint until after the implied consent hearing has been conducted and the revocation has been sustained, or can charge third-degree DWI before the implied consent hearing and amend the complaint to add a second-degree DWI charge after the hearing."
***
"Like the defendant in Heino, Anderson filed, then waived review of, his petition for judicial review of his 2016 license revocation before the state served a complaint that asserted an aggravating factor for his 2016 DWI. Although Heino involved a defendant’s property interest, and Anderson’s due-process claim involves his liberty interest, the risk of an erroneous deprivation is slight for Anderson. See Heino, 762 N.W.2d at 264 (concluding that “the risk of erroneous deprivation in this case was minimal”). If Anderson had proceeded with judicial review of the 2016 license revocation and successfully obtained a rescission, then the state could not have used his revocation as an aggravating factor for his 2016 DWI."

Moral Of The Story:  If you can delay and delay and delay justice, you may be able to deny it!



If you or a loved one have been charged with a Minnesota DWI, feel free to contact Minneapolis DWI Attorney, F. T. Sessoms at (612) 344-1505 for answers to all of your Minnesota DWI and DUI questions.



Monday, June 10, 2019

Minneapolis DWI Lawyer F. T. Sessoms Blogs on Minnesota DWI: This Week's Featured Minnesota DWI Case

The Minnesota DWI Case Of The Week is State v. Donner (Decided June 10, 2019, Minnesota Court of Appeals, Unpublished) which stands for the proposition that a defendant need only make a prima facie showing to be entitled to a jury instruction.

Mr. Donner was arrested for a DWI on August 7, 2016 after driving home from a nightclub.  He testified at trial that someone slipped him a drug and that he was entitled to an involuntary intoxication jury instruction.

Mr. Donner testified he ordered a club soda at a night club while his friend went to the dance floor.  Mr. Donner had been in a car accident roughly a week before the arrest, and so, following his doctor’s recommendation, he did not have any alcoholic beverages to drink that night. He was also carrying about $300 in cash because he had been paid the same day.

Defendant testified that after his friend went to dance, he was approached at the bar by a woman he did not know. He purchased a drink for this woman. After chatting with this woman, appellant left his club soda at the bar while he went to the bathroom, and then came back and continued his conversation with the same woman at the bar for approximately 20 or 30 more minutes.

Mr. Donner then ended this conversation and joined his friend on the dance floor. After a short time, he “started to feel funny,” so he went back to the bar to buy a bottle of water. At this point, Donner noticed that most of the $300 in cash he had been carrying was gone. After looking and asking around for his missing money, the Defendant got upset and decided to leave the club.

R.A., a security guard at the parking lot Donner parked at, testified that appellant walked to the garage around 2:00 a.m. on August 7, 2016. Defendant appeared drunk, and R.A. told him to take a nap before driving. A.S., a second security guard at the parking garage, testified that he saw Defendant get into his car, sit without driving for four or five minutes, start driving, and almost immediately hit a parked car. R.A. then called 911 to summon the police.

Officer Ross Blair was one of the officers who responded to the call. When Officer Blair arrived, Defendant was asleep in his car and had to be woken up. Officer Blair testified that appellant showed signs of intoxication and failed multiple field sobriety tests, but did not smell like alcohol. Defendant also took a preliminary breath test for the presence of alcohol which did not detect any alcohol in appellant’s system. Police arrested Defendant based on his failed sobriety tests and took him to get tested for the presence of other chemicals in his system.

Police obtained a warrant for Defendant's blood, had a sample taken at a nearby hospital, and sent it to the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension to be tested for the presence of intoxicants. The test revealed that Defendant had a significant amount of alprazolam, more commonly known as Xanax, in his system. The therapeutic range for alprazolam is between .02 and .06 milligrams per liter, while the testing revealed appellant had a concentration of .074 milligrams per liter in his bloodstream. Appellant was eventually charged with second-degree driving while impaired in violation of Minn. Stat. § 169A.20, subd. 1(2) (2016), and careless driving in violation of Minn. Stat. § 169.13, subd. 2 (2016).

At trial, Defendant did not contest the fact that he drove while impaired, but testified that he did not knowingly consume any intoxicating substances the evening of his arrest. At the close of evidence, the district court considered whether to instruct the jury on the affirmative defense of involuntary intoxication. Though the district court noted that it was a “close call,” it elected not to include this instruction, concluding that Defendant had failed to establish a prima facie case.

On appeal, the Minnesota Court of Appeals justifiably reversed the district court.  It appears that the district court did not know the meaning of prima facie. Or, as stated by the Court of Appeals:

"It is beyond dispute that a party is entitled to an instruction on his theory of the case if there is evidence to support it.” State v. Ruud, 259 N.W.2d 567, 578 (Minn. 1977). If an instruction is “warranted by the facts and relevant law” it must be given. State v. McCuiston, 514 N.W.2d 802, 804 (Minn. App. 1994), review denied (Minn. June 15, 1994); see also State v. Moser, 884 N.W.2d 890, 905 (Minn. App. 2016) (noting that once a defendant meets “a burden of production by making a prima facie showing that the defense applies,” the district court must give a jury instruction on an affirmative defense)."

"A prima facie showing is that which is “based on what seems to be true on first examination, even though it may later be proved to be untrue.” Black’s Law Dictionary 1382 (10th ed. 2014) (defining “prima facie”). “[T]he defendant’s burden of making a prima facie showing that would entitle him to a jury instruction and the defendant’s burden of proving to the trier of fact by a preponderance of the evidence each element of the defense proffered are two separate inquiries.” State v. Voorhees, 596 N.W.2d 241, 250 n.2 (Minn. 1999)."
***
"We conclude that, when viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to appellant, appellant did establish a prima facie case for the affirmative defense of involuntary intoxication. Therefore, the district court abused its discretion when it declined to instruct the jury on involuntary intoxication."

Moral Of The Story:  While appearances may be deceiving, they are enough to get you a jury instruction.



If you or a loved one have been charged with a Minnesota DWI, feel free to contact Minneapolis DWI Lawyer, F. T. Sessoms at (612) 344-1505 for answers to all of your Minnesota DWI and DUI questions.





Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Minnesota DWI Lawyer F. T. Sessoms Blogs on Minnesota DWI: This Week's Featured Minnesota DWI Case

The Minnesota DWI Case Of The Week is State v. Haugen (Decided May 28, 2019, Minnesota Court of Appeals, Unpublished) which stands for the proposition that your pre-test right to counsel is not violated if you make no attempt to contact an attorney.

In Haugen, the Defendant was arrested by the state patrol in Beltrami County for DWI and was taken to the jail where he was read the Minnesota Implied Consent Advisory, informing Mr. Haugen of his right to counsel prior to testing.  Mr. Haugen asked to speak with an attorney, and the trooper provided a telephone and phonebooks. Haugen used neither, but refused to submit to testing until he spoke with his attorney. The trooper deemed appellant’s conduct a test refusal.

The Defendant filed a motion to suppress alleging his right to counsel had been violated.  The District Court denied the motion concluding that appellant failed to make a good-faith effort to contact an attorney. The court found that, after appellant was offered a telephone and phonebooks, he did not use them, but rather “argued that he would not be able to reach an attorney due to the hour.” And when the trooper pointed out that appellant could at least try, appellant argued that he needed a Minneapolis phonebook. The trooper indicated that appellant could use the phonebooks in the room, and appellant became upset because he did not have access to his cellphone, which purportedly contained his attorney’s contact information.

On appeal, Mr. Haugen asserted that the trooper’s act of supplying “two local Beltrami Phonebooks” was insufficient, and the trooper was obligated to conduct an Internet search to find the contact information for his Minneapolis-based attorney.  The Court of Appeals rejected the claim stating:

"Appellant cites no caselaw to support his assertion that the trooper was obligated to provide additional phonebooks or conduct an Internet search. The limited right to counsel before deciding whether to submit to chemical testing “is vindicated when the driver is provided with a telephone and given reasonable time to contact and talk with an attorney.” Duff v. Comm ’r of Pub. Safety, 560 N.W.2d 735, 737 (Minn. App. 1997). The trooper was only required to allow and facilitate appellant’s right to counsel, he was not required to ensure that appellant “received the best or even proper counsel.” Butler v. Comm ’r of Pub. Safety, 348 N.W.2d 827, 829 (Minn. App. 1984). The trooper provided appellant with a telephone and phonebooks, and appellant failed to make a good-faith effort to contact an attorney. Appellant’s right to counsel was vindicated."

The result may very well have been different had the Defendant supplied the officer with the name of the Minneapolis attorney he was seeking to reach as previous case law states the police must allow an individual to call long distance to reach a specified Minneapolis attorney. 

Moral Of The Story:  If you want to get something done, do it yourself!

If you or a loved one have been arrested for a Minnesota DWI, or are facing a DWI forfeiture of your motor vehicle, feel free to contact Minnesota DWI Lawyer, F. T. Sessoms at (612) 344-1505 for answers to all of your Minnesota DWI questions.

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Minnesota DWI Attorney F. T. Sessoms Blogs on Minnesota DWI: This Week's Featured Minnesota DWI Case

The Minnesota DWI Case Of The Week is State v. Peterson (Decided May 6, 2019, Minnesota Court of Appeals, Unpublished) which, once again, stands for the proposition that if you have been drinking and driving and make it home do not open your door!

In Peterson, Minnesota State Trooper Jon Wenzel followed the Defendant to his home after observing an equipment violation and some speeding.  

Peterson parked his truck in his home driveway, immediately exited, and walked quickly toward his front door. Wenzel pulled into the driveway and parked. Wenzel saw Peterson look directly at him and keep walking. Wenzel stepped out of his car, identified himself as a state trooper, and loudly told Peterson to stop because “I need to talk to you.” Wenzel testified that Peterson’s wife, M.P., also saw him as Peterson climbed the steps to his porch. The couple went inside and locked the door.

Wenzel had not activated his emergency lights, in part because he intended to “advise [Peterson] of the equipment violation.” Based on Peterson’s behavior in the driveway, Wenzel testified that he believed that “there might be something other than speeding] or an equipment violation that would cause [Peterson] to try to evade” police.

Wenzel opened the storm door, knocked on the front door, “announced himself,” and said he needed to speak to Peterson.  Peterson's wife eventually answered the door and said that she would see if her husband would come to the door.

Wenzel saw Peterson open a beer can as he walked toward and opened the front door. While they stood in the doorway, Wenzel observed that Peterson had an “unsteady gait,” “sort of swayfed],” had “very slurred” speech, and his eyes were bloodshot and watery. Wenzel testified he smelled an “overwhelming odor of alcohol” coming from Peterson.

Wenzel asked Peterson to come outside and speak with him, and told Peterson that he would be arrested for obstruction of legal process if he did not cooperate. Peterson refused and Wenzel grabbed Peterson’s arm. Peterson resisted and began backing away from the doorway and toward the living room. Wenzel testified that his foot may have been on the threshold as he grabbed Peterson. Peterson, with M.P. ’s assistance, forcefully pulled away from Wenzel, who called for an on-scene deputy to back him up. Together, Wenzel and the other deputy moved Peterson outside the home

After doing some field tests and obtaining a .198 reading on a preliminary breath test, Mr. Peterson was arrested for DWI.  The Defendant was taken to the police station where he subsequently refused to submit to testing.  

Mr. Peterson was charged with felony DWI and he challenged the validity of his arrest asserting the trooper was not in "hot pursuit"when Peterson entered his home.  The State in its response claimed that the trooper was in hot pursuit but on appeal, the Court of Appeals declined to address the issue finding instead that the arrest lawfully began in the doorway of the Peterson home.

The Court of Appeals began its analysis by noting that "Absent exigent circumstances, police officers may not enter an individual’s home to make a warrantless arrest. Payton v. New York, 445 U.S. 573, 590, 100 S. Ct. 1371, 1382 (1980). The doorway of one’s home, however, has been held to be a public place for the purposes of the Fourth Amendment."..."Once a police officer has begun to arrest a person in a public place, that person may not retreat into their home to thwart an arrest."
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"Wenzel had probable cause to arrest Peterson for DWI. As Peterson stood in his doorway, Wenzel observed multiple indicia of intoxication within a very short time after Peterson stopped driving. When these observations are considered together with Peterson’s evasive behavior and his refusal to cooperate with Wenzel, we conclude that Wenzel had probable cause to arrest Peterson for DWI."
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"Because the record supports the district court’s factual findings that Wenzel began to arrest Peterson while he was in the doorway of Peterson’s home, we conclude that these findings are not clearly erroneous. Because Wenzel began to arrest Peterson in the doorway, Peterson could no longer flee back into his house to thwart the arrest."

Moral Of The Story:  A man's home is his castle so don't open the door for the police!



If you or a loved one have been arrested for a Minnesota DWI, or are facing a DWI forfeiture of your motor vehicle, feel free to contact Minnesota DWI Attorney, F. T. Sessoms at (612) 344-1505 for answers to all of your Minnesota DWI questions.


Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Minneapolis DWI Attorney F. T. Sessoms Blogs on Minnesota DWI: This Week's Featured Minnesota DWI Case

The Minnesota DWI Case Of The Week is Platt v. Commissioner of Public Safety (Decided April 29, 2019, Minnesota Court of Appeals, Unpublished) which stands for the proposition that if you act like a jerk, you will get jerked around.

In Platt, the Petitioner was arrested for DWI and the arresting officer obtained a search warrant for a sample of Mr. Platt's blood or urine. Platt refused to submit to blood testing and said that he would submit to urine testing, but demanded time and water in order to provide the sample. Over the next hour, the officer would check in to see if Platt was prepared to give the sample, but Platt repeatedly indicated that he needed more time. In all of his interactions with the officer, Platt was insulting and profane, frequently shouting over the officer. The officer determined that Platt’s conduct amounted to test refusal, and so informed the commissioner of public safety, leading the commissioner to revoke Platt’s license.

Platt filed a challenge to the license revocation in district court arguing that : (1) his license cannot be revoked as the officer did not read him the statutorily mandated advisory and (2) that his right to due process was violated as he was not told that his refusal to submit to testing was a crime.

The district court upheld the license revocation and on appeal, the Minnesota Court of Appeals affirmed noting that they need not decide the merits of Mr. Platt's arguments as there are a long line of cases which hold that a driver's misbehavior constitutes a waiver of rights under the implied consent law. Or, as stated by the Court:

"Drivers who are arrested on suspicion of driving while intoxicated have a duty to avoid frustrating the implied-consent testing process. State v. Collins, 655 N.W.2d 652, 658 (Minn. App. 2003), review denied (Minn. Mar. 26, 2003). When a driver’s conduct prevents officers from completing the implied-consent procedure, the driver is deemed to have waived his or her rights under that process. See State v. Busch, 614 N.W.2d 256, 259 (Minn. App. 2000) (holding that a driver who frustrated the implied consent process by his silence had waived his right to an attorney). Thus, where a driver prevented an officer from reading the implied-consent advisory by “screaming, swearing, making accusations of rape, and insisting that she would not listen,” the driver could be convicted for test refusal even though the implied-consent advisory was not read and she was never provided with an opportunity to contact an attorney. Collins, 655 N.W.2d at 658. Although Collins and Busch address the limited right to counsel, their rationale applies here. See id.; Busch, 614 N.W.2d at 259-60; see also Sigfrinius v. Comm ’r of Pub. Safety, 378 N.W.2d 124, 126 (Minn. App. 1985) (holding that a driver’s conduct frustrates administration of the test where his conduct is “calculated to avoid any ‘suspension’ of his license”). Accepting Platt’s argument that implied consent cases also apply to Minn. Stat. § 171.177, a driver receiving a warrant advisory may not frustrate the advisory and then contest the revocation because the advisory was not given."

Moral Of The Story:  If you have been arrested, don't make matter worse for yourself by being a jerk.

If you or a loved one have been charged with a Minnesota DWI, feel free to contact Minneapolis DWI Attorney, F. T. Sessoms at (612) 344-1505 for answers to all of your Minnesota DWI and DUI questions.




Monday, April 22, 2019

Minneapolis DWI Lawyer F. T. Sessoms Blogs on Minnesota DWI: This Week's Featured Minnesota DWI Case

The Minnesota DWI Case Of The Week is State v. Rusthoven which stands for the proposition that if you act like you have something to hide, you are going to get searched by the police.

In Rusthoven, the Defendant was stopped for speeding in Swift County, Minnesota. When Deputy Hoffman approached the Defendant's truck, he noticed Mr. Rusthoven was, "very fidgety and very agitated".  When Deputy Hoffman asked Rusthoven if he was under the influence of a controlled substance, Rusthoven became “even more agitated.”

The deputy returned to his squad car to look up Rusthoven’s driver’s license. The search revealed that Rusthoven’s license was restricted, requiring that, if any drugs were found in his system, his license would be invalidated. The deputy returned to speak with Rusthoven and observed that, "his arms were constantly moving, just back and forth, up and down. He would take his hat over [sic] very quickly and put it on very quickly and he was always, you know, it appeared that he was always digging around inside the vehicle or moving his arms inside the vehicle."

Deputy Hoffman asked Rusthoven to exit the vehicle, but Rusthoven refused. This made the deputy “fairly nervous.” The deputy waited to take further action until a second deputy arrived.

When a second deputy arrived, Deputy Hoffman asked Rusthoven to exit his vehicle again. After several requests from both deputies, Rusthoven did so. Deputy Hoffman performed a pat-down search for weapons and thought that he felt a methamphetamine pipe in Rusthoven’s front pocket. Deputy Hoffman told Rusthoven that he was under arrest.

A search warrant was obtained to get a sample of Rusthoven's blood. The blood tested positive for methamphetamine and amphetamine. Mr. Rusthoven was charged with felony DWI and he moved to suppress all of the evidence arguing the deputy did not have a reason suspicion to expand the stop and conduct a pat-down for weapons.  The district court denied Rusthoven’s motions, finding that each expansion of the stop was justified.  

The Minnesota Court of Appeals upheld the district court, stating:

"To be constitutional, “each incremental intrusion during a traffic stop [must] be tied to and justified by one of the following: (1) the original legitimate purpose of the stop, (2) independent probable cause, or (3) reasonableness, as defined in Terry.” State v. Askerooth, 681 N.W.2d 353, 365 (Minn. 2004). The supreme court has summarized Terry as follows: “[E]ven in the absence of probable cause, the police may stop and frisk a person when (1) they have a reasonable, articulable suspicion that a suspect might be engaged in criminal activity and (2) the officer reasonably believes the suspect might be armed and dangerous.” State v. Flowers, 734 N.W.2d 239, 250 (Minn. 2007) (quotations omitted); accord Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1, 30, 88 S. Ct. 1868, 1884 (1968)."

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"Based on the totality of the circumstances, Deputy Hoffman reasonably believed that Rusthoven was armed and dangerous. The deputy observed indicia of drug use and found that Rusthoven’s license was restricted from prior drug use. In addition, Rusthoven was unwilling to cooperate with the deputies’ requests to exit the vehicle. Based on those facts, combined with Rusthoven’s “erratic and agitated” movements, including “digging around inside the vehicle,” “moving his arms inside the vehicle,” and “fidgeting with everything,” the deputy reasonably believed that Rusthoven was armed and dangerous. At that point, given the totality of the circumstances, Deputy Hoffman possessed reasonable suspicion that criminal activity was afoot and that Rusthoven was armed and dangerous, justifying a pat-down frisk for weapons."

Moral Of The Story:  If you get fidgety, the cops will get frisky!


If you or a loved one have been charged with a Minnesota DWI, feel free to contact Minneapolis DWI Lawyer, F. T. Sessoms at (612) 344-1505 for answers to all of your Minnesota DWI and DUI questions.