Monday, September 24, 2018

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 Mortenson v. Commissioner of Public Safety (Decided September 24, 2018, Minnesota Court of Appeals, Published) which stands for the proposition that if you refuse to submit to testing, you cannot claim you were misled by an inaccurate Implied Consent Advisory.

In Mortenson, the Petitioner was arrested for a DWI and was read a Minnesota Implied Consent Advisory.  Mr. Mortenson refused to submit to a blood or urine test and the commissioner revoked his license.  

The Petitioner challenged the license revocation arguing his license revocation should be rescinded because the state cannot constitutionally charge him with a crime for refusing warrantless blood and urine tests. The district court agreed and rescinded the revocation of Mortenson's license to drive.  The Court of Appeals agreed initially with the district court, issuing an order opinion affirming the district court's rescission based on a different theory, reasoning that the implied-consent advisory misled Mortenson by inaccurately informing him that refusal to take a blood or urine test is a crime and that the advisory therefore violated Mortenson's right to due process under McDonnell v. Comm 'r of Pub. Safety, 473 N.W.2d 848, 853-55 (Minn. 1991), and Johnson v. Comm'r of Pub. Safety, 887 N.W.2d 281, 292, 294-95 (Minn. App. 2016), rev 'd, 911 N.W.2d 506 (Minn. 2018).

The supreme court granted the commissioner of public safety's petition for review and stayed further proceedings pending final disposition in Morehouse v. Comm 'r of Pub. Safety, 911 N.W.2d 503 (Minn. 2018), and Johnson. After the supreme court issued its opinions in Morehouse and Johnson, the supreme court vacated the Court of Appeals'  decision, and remanded the matter back to the Court of Appeals for reconsideration in light of Johnson.

On remand, the Court of Appeals reversed itself, stating:

"The supreme court reversed this court's decision in Johnson and clarified that a due-process violation under McDonnell does not occur "solely because a driver [has] been misled." 911 N.W.2d at 508. Instead, the supreme court held that a due-process violation occurs only if "three key elements" are met:
(1) the person whose license was revoked submitted to a breath, blood, or urine test; (2) the person prejudicially relied on the implied consent advisory in deciding to undergo testing; and (3) the implied consent advisory did not accurately inform the person of the legal consequences of refusing to submit to the testing. Id. at 508-09 (citing McDonnell, 473 N.W.2d at 853-55)."

"The supreme court determined that Johnson could not satisfy the first two elements because he refused to submit to blood and urine tests, reasoning that "there [was] no concern . . . that [he] was prejudiced by relying on misleading statements by the officer about the consequences of refusing a test because [he] did not submit to testing." Johnson, 911 N.W.2d at 509. Because Johnson could not establish the first two elements of his McDonnell due-process claim, there was no due-process violation, and "Johnson [was] not entitled to a rescission of his license revocation." Id."

"Johnson clarified that due-process relief under McDonnell is only available to drivers who submit to testing, Johnson effectively overruled Steinolfson."

Moral Of The Story: You can't claim you were misled if you refused to follow in the first place.



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 Minneapolis DWI Lawyer, F. T. Sessoms at (612) 344-1505 for answers to all of your Minnesota DWI questions.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

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. Nelson (decided September 17, 2018, Minnesota Court of Appeals, Unpublished) which stands for the proposition that a person arrested for a DWI does not have the right to have an attorney present to witness the testing procedure.

In Nelson, the Defendant was arrested for a DWI and was read the Minnesota Implied Consent Advisory informing him of his right to consult with counsel prior to testing.  Mr. Nelson told the arresting officer that he wished to speak to his own attorney and was given access to a telephone. Mr. Nelson was able to contact his attorney and after speaking to the lawyer, Mr. Nelson hung up the telephone.  The officer then asked Mr. Nelson if he wanted to call another attorney, to which Mr. Nelson replied that he did.  

The officer provided appellant with several phonebooks, but appellant made no attempt to contact an attorney. The officer advised him a few more times to contact an attorney, but appellant did not do so. The officer ended appellant's phone time at about 4:45 a.m. and asked him if he would take the breath test. According to the officer, appellant stated that he "would not without his attorney present." The officer told appellant that he had to make the decision on his own, but appellant reiterated his prior response. The officer told appellant that he would consider appellant's response as refusing the test and wrote, "[h]e wants his attorney, even though he already spoke to his attorney" on the implied-consent advisory form as the reason for refusal.

The State of Minnesota charged appellant with one count of refusing to submit to chemical testing under Minn. Stat. § 169A.20, subd. 2 (2016), along with several other counts. After the trial, the jury found appellant guilty of refusing to submit to chemical testing, but acquitted him of the other charges.  

On appeal the Appellant argued that the evidence was insufficient to support the jury's guilty verdict because he was exercising his right to have a reasonable opportunity to obtain legal advice rather than refusing the test, and therefore did not demonstrate an "actual unwillingness" to submit to a chemical test.  The Court of Appeals was not persuaded, noting:

""[Refusal to submit to chemical testing includes any indication of actual unwillingness to participate in the testing process, as determined from the driver's words and actions in light of the totality of the circumstances." State v. Ferrier, 792 N.W.2d 98, 102 (Minn. App. 2010) (emphasis added), review denied (Mi\m. Mar. 15, 2011). Whether a driver refused to submit to chemical testing is a question of fact, which we review under the clearly erroneous standard. Lynch v. Comm 'r of Pub. Safety, 498 NW.2d 37, 38-39 (Minn. App. 1993)."

"Appellant told the officer that "he would not [take the test] without his attorney present." Appellant's statement is direct evidence indicating his refusal to take the test and is sufficient evidence supporting the jury's guilty verdict."

"Appellant argues that his statement is insufficient to support the jury's guilty verdict because his statement indicated that he was exercising his right to have a reasonable opportunity to obtain legal advice, which includes having an attorney present during the test. Appellant's argument is unavailing. A driver has a state constitutional right, "upon request, to a reasonable opportunity to obtain legal advice before deciding whether to submit to chemical testing." Friedman v. Comm 'r of Pub. Safety, 473 N.W.2d 828, 835 (Minn. 1991). However, such right is "limited" in DWI cases, and may be vindicated when a police officer provides the driver with "a telephone and a reasonable amount of time to contact and speak with an attorney." Gergen v. Comm 'r of Pub. Safety, 548 N.W.2d 307, 309 (Minn. App. 1996), review denied (Minn. Aug. 6, 1996). In Sturgeon v. Comm V. of Pub. Safety, we held that this right does not include having counsel "present during the test itself, even though counsel was already present at the station before the test was administered and no delay would result," as long as the driver is allowed to use a phone and have a private conversation with his attorney."

Moral Of The Story: While absence may make the heart grow fonder, it does not justify a refusal to submit to DWI testing.



If you or a loved one have been arrested for a Minnesota DWI or are facing the 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 and forfeiture questions.



Wednesday, September 5, 2018

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. Hyrdahl (Decided September 4, 2018, Minnesota Court of Appeals, Unpublished) which stands for the proposition that if the Implied Consent Advisory is technically correct as read to the Defendant, then the advisory does not violate due process.

In Hyrdahl, the Defendant was arrested for DWI and at the jail, the arresting the officer read the breath-test advisory to Mr. Hyrdahl. The Defendant contacted an attorney and, after speaking to his attorney, agreed to take the offered breath test. Defendant's alcohol concentration was 0.14.

The Defendant filed a motion to suppress the evidence resulting from his agreement to take the breath test, alleging that the breath-test advisory violated his due-process rights. Defendant agreed that while it is against the law to refuse to consent to a breath test, the advisory seemed to suggest that it was against the law to refuse to consent to any test, a misstatement of the law. The district court agreed and suppressed evidence resulting from his agreement to take the breath test, finding that the advisory, as read by the officer, was misleading and violated defendant's due-process rights. 

The State appealed the District Court and the Minnesota Court of Appeals reversed the lower court, stating:

"Minnesota law requires law enforcement to provide an advisory prior to administering a breath test to a driver. Minn. Stat. § 169A.51, subd. 2 (2016). The advisory must inform drivers that "Minnesota law requires [them] to take a test," "that refusal to submit to a breath test is a crime," and that they may consult with an attorney. Id. Failing or refusing such a test can result in license revocation. Minn. Stat. § 169A.52, subds. 3, 4 (2016)."

"In the criminal context, like this case, due process requires that criminal defendants be treated with fundamental fairness. Id. A due-process violation in a criminal prosecution for driving while impaired occurs when a breath test is obtained through coercion. Id. An implied-consent advisory is coercive if it is misleading. State v. Stumpf, 481 N.W.2d 887, 889-90 (Minn. App. 1992)."

"Here, the advisory given by law enforcement did not violate respondent's due-process rights because it was not misleading. The officer informed respondent that Minnesota law required him to take "a test" to determine the presence of alcohol. The officer then informed respondent that refusal to take "a test" is a crime. The officer informed respondent that he had a right to consult with an attorney, and respondent then spoke with an attorney. Lastly, the officer offered respondent a "breath test," and respondent consented to take the breath test. The officer accurately informed respondent that his failure to take the breath test could result in criminal penalties. Therefore the advisory did not misstate the law."

"The district court determined that the instruction was misleading because the officer informed respondent that refusal to take a "chemical test" is a crime. The court determined this was a misstatement of the law because a driver may refuse certain chemical tests like those for blood or urine and such a refusal is not a crime. See State v. Thompson, 886 N.W.2d 224, 234 (Minn. 2016); State v. Trahan, 886 N.W.2d 216, 224 (Minn. 2016). But based on the record, the officer did not instruct respondent that refusal to take a chemical test is a crime and instead explained that refusal to take a test is a crime. And, the only test offered to respondent was a breath test; the instruction accurately described that refusal to take the offered breath test would be a crime. The officer never asked respondent to take a blood or urine test. Given the circumstances, the breath-test advisory was not misleading."

Moral Of The Story: Close enough for government work!
If you or a loved one have been charged with a Minnesota DWI, feel free to contact Minnesota DWI Attorney, F. T. Sessoms at (612) 344-1505 for answers to all of your Minnesota DWI and DUI questions.


Monday, August 27, 2018

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. Mike (Decided August 27, 2018, Minnesota Court of Appeals, Published) which stands for the proposition that even if the police disobey the law in obtaining a blood or urine test the test results will still not be suppressed in the criminal case.  This is a terrible decision and will lead to absurd results.

In State v. Mike, the Defendant was arrested for a Minnesota DWI and the police obtained a search warrant authorizing the collection of sample of his blood for chemical testing.  The arrested officer never informed Mr. Mike that refusal to submit to a warranted blood test was a crime.  The test result of the blood sample revealed an alcohol concentration level of .23%.

Mike moved to suppress the test result arguing that Minnesota Statute §171.77 requires a person be informed that refusal to submit to a warranted blood test is a crime.  The District Court agreed with the Defendant and suppressed the test.  But on appeal, the Minnesota Court of Appeals reversed, stating:

***
"Having concluded that compliance with the advisory requirement in section 171.177, subdivision 1, was necessary, we must next determine whether suppression of Mike’s test results is an appropriate remedy for noncompliance."

"The purpose of suppression is not to vindicate a defendant’s rights nor to affirm the integrity of the courts, but to deter police from engaging in illegal searches.” State v. Cook, 498 N. W.2d 17, 20 (Minn. 1993). “In other words, the risk of having seized evidence suppressed is intended to persuade police officers to follow the rules and to act lawfully when searching and seizing private property.” Id. The supreme court “[has] indicated in a number of cases . . . that [it] will not require suppression of all evidence seized in searches constituting, or resulting from, a violation of a statute.”

"...suppression based on a statutory violation is justified only if the violation subverts the purpose of the statute. We therefore consider the purpose of section 171.177, subdivision 1. Two cases inform our consideration. The first is Tyler v. Comm ’r of Pub. Safety, 368 N.W.2d 275 (Minn. 1985). In Tyler, the supreme court considered, in the context of a license-revocation proceeding, the appropriate remedy for the state’s failure to provide a standard implied-consent advisory before obtaining a driver’s consent to testing. 368 N.W.2d at 278, 280-81. The supreme court stated that “[i]t would be improper and unfair to revoke a driver’s license for refusing to take a test if an advisory were not given,” but that “failure to give an advisory should not make any difference in a case where the revocation is based on test results showing that the driver had an [illegal] blood alcohol concentration.” Id. at 280. The supreme court reasoned, “The advisory is not designed to persuade a driver not to take a test; rather it is aimed at letting a driver know the serious consequences of his refusal to take a test.”
***
"Because the purpose of the advisory in section 171.177, subdivision 1, is to encourage submission to testing, and not refusal, that purpose is not subverted if a driver submits to a test without being read the advisory. And because the statutory purpose is not subverted in such circumstances, failure to provide the advisory does not justify suppression of ensuing test results. We therefore hold that failure to comply with the advisory requirement in Minnesota Statutes section 171.177, subdivision 1, does not justify suppression of the test results in a criminal prosecution for DWI.  The district court therefore erred by suppressing Mike’s blood-test results on the ground that the state failed to inform Mike that refusal to take a warranted blood test is a crime."

The Court of Appeals reasoning appears to be flawed for two reasons:

(1) The purpose of the exclusionary rule is to deter police misconduct.  The exclusionary rule is not limited to police search misconduct.  When the police disobey the law, by not informing an individual of the consequences of refusal, they have engaged in misconduct and the evidence should be suppressed.

(2) According to the logic of the Court of Appeals, anyone who is subjected to a warranted search of their blood and who is not advised of the consequences of refusal pursuant to § 171.77, should ALWAYS refuse to submit to testing as they could not be prosecuted for the refusal crime.

Moral Of The Story:  Just say no!



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 Minneapolis DWI Attorney, F. T. Sessoms at (612) 344-1505 for answers to all of your Minnesota DWI questions.



Tuesday, August 21, 2018

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. Yaeger (Decided August 20, 2018, Minnesota Court of Appeals, Unpublished) which stands for the proposition that the "good faith exception" to the exclusionary rule only applies where the police are relying on established court precedent.

In Yaeger, the Defendant was stopped as one of the headlights on his vehicle was out.  The trooper noticed Yaeger's pupils were dilated "way above average" and asked Yaeger to submit to standardized field-sobriety tests, which he failed.  Yaeger admitted that he had taken Cymbalta, an antidepressant, about two hours before the traffic stop.  As the troopers were placing Yaeger under arrest, they told Yaeger that he was "not gonna get charged tonight."

Trooper Elzen read Yaeger the implied-consent advisory. Yaeger decided to consult with an attorney, but before speaking with an attorney asked the troopers, "So is it ultimately, is this, you guys are trying to get it into like a DWI?" Trooper Elzen replied that Yaeger had been arrested for "DWI, a controlled substance." Yaeger said that "the medication that I'm on[,] I was told I can drive on those medications." Trooper Bormann replied, "Yeah there's ... a prescription defense to that, however we don't know tonight how much you took, if you took other things." Yaeger then consulted an attorney and agreed to take a urine test. The urine test came back positive for alpha-hydroxyalprazolam, also known as Xanax, as well as Zolpidem.

On November 18, 2015, Yaeger was charged with one count of DWI—operating a motor vehicle under the influence of a controlled substance. Yaeger moved to suppress "any evidence acquired as a result of the unlawful search . . . ." The district court held a hearing on Yaeger's motion to dismiss, at which he argued that he did not consent to the search, the good-faith exception to the warrant requirement did not apply, and that his due-process rights had been violated as a result of an incorrect implied-consent advisory.

Ruling from the bench, the district court "d[id] not find that consent was voluntary." The district court, "[considering the totality of the circumstances[,]" noted first that the implied-consent advisory read to Yaeger was not accurate. The district court stated that the incorrect advisory "is one thing that [it] can consider." In addition, the district court considered "other things that occurred," including that troopers told Yaeger he was not going to be charged that night, they were "just getting the test to see what comes back on the test, and . . . if there's things in there that are impairing, then you could get charged with a DWI." The district court stated that it was "inclined to look at that statement as one that's not supporting consent, that [Yaeger] [wa]s being told, more or less, that his acquiescence to the test [wa]s one thing that they'll consider in releasing him tonight and ultimately whether or not he's going to be charged." The district court then considered the good-faith exception to the exclusionary rule. The district court found that the troopers "acted appropriately" and that "[t]here isn't anything in the record that suggests that there was police misconduct." The district court also found that the implied-consent advisory was correct at the time it was read to Yaeger. Accordingly, the district court concluded that the good-faith exception to the exclusionary rule applied and that the urine-test results were admissible.

On appeal, the Minnesota Court of Appeals reversed the district court, correctly finding that:

"Here, the district court found that Yaeger did not voluntarily consent to the urine test. The district court's finding was not based solely on the inaccurate statement of law contained in the implied-consent advisory. The district court also considered the statements made by the troopers suggesting that"[Yaeger's] acquiescence to the test is one thing that they'll consider in releasing him tonight and ultimately whether or not he's going to be charged." The troopers also downplayed the consequences of taking the urine test. Additionally, Trooper Bormann mistakenly informed Yaeger that there was a "prescription defense" to DWI.1 The state does not argue that the district court erred by finding that Yaeger's consent was invalid. Accordingly, the district court's finding is presumed to be correct."

"Yaeger challenges the district court's application of the good-faith exception to the exclusionary rule. The supreme court stated in Lindquist that "[t]he exclusionary rule does not apply . . . when law enforcement acts in good-faith, objectively reasonable reliance on binding appellate precedent."   869 N.W.2d at 864.   The supreme court reiterated that "deterrence of police misconduct" is the "central purpose of the exclusionary rule" and concluded that "applying the exclusionary rule to evidence obtained during a search conducted in reasonable reliance on binding appellate precedent would have no deterrent value on police misconduct." Id. at 871."

"The district court erred by applying the good-faith exception. The good-faith exception to the exclusionary rule would apply only if the incorrect advisory was the sole factor that rendered Yaeger's consent involuntary...Here, in addition to the incorrect advisory, the troopers told Yaeger that he would be released without being charged after he took the urine test, downplayed the consequences of the test, and misled him to believe that there was a prescription defense to DWI. The state cites no binding appellate precedent that authorizes such conduct.  Accordingly, we conclude that the district court erred by reversing its direction and ultimately admitting the urine-test results under the good-faith exception."

Moral Of The Story:  In order for the police to act "in good faith" they must follow ALL of the rules!



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 Minneapolis DWI Lawyer, F. T. Sessoms at (612) 344-1505 for answers to all of your Minnesota DWI questions.

Monday, August 6, 2018

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 Grey v. Commissioner of Public Safety (Decided August 6, 2018, Minnesota Court of Appeals, Published) which stands for the proposition that a constitutional challenge to the application of the Minnesota Implied Consent Statute can be raised even though the statute limits the types of challenges that can be raised in the revocation hearing.  

In Grey, the Appellant was an out-of-towner from Iowa, who received a notice and order of revocation following a failed breath test at the sheriffs office. But in the midst of being transported to detox, the notice was left behind. A few days later, the notice and order of revocation was mailed to him. Gray requested an implied-consent hearing at which he contended that his license revocation should be rescinded because his due-process right was violated in light of not receiving the revocation notice and because of an ambiguity in the notice stemming from his driver's license being issued by Iowa, not Minnesota. The district court disagreed, determining that Gray properly received the notice, and due to his own conduct, left the document behind.  The district court also found that the Appellant could not raise a procedural due process challenge as it is not a challenge listed as permissible for hearing in a license revocation case.

On appeal, the Minnesota Court of Appeals affirmed the district court on other grounds but it significantly found that:

"Individuals are entitled to seek administrative or judicial review after receiving a notice and order of revocation. Minn. Stat. § 169A.53, subds. 1-2 (2016). For a judicial-review hearing, also known as an implied-consent hearing, the statute explicitly limits the issues that can be addressed. Minn. Stat. § 169A.53, subd. 3 (2016) (stating that the "scope of the hearing is limited to the issues" listed). Arguments concerning procedural due process are not among the listed issues."

"Whether an argument not listed in Minnesota Statutes section 169A.53, subdivision 3(b), can be raised at an implied-consent hearing was addressed in Axelberg, where the Minnesota Supreme Court was faced with a petitioner who attempted to raise a necessity defense at an implied-consent hearing. 848 N.W.2d at 207-08. Through a statutory-interpretation analysis, the supreme court determined that because the necessity defense was not one of the delineated issues in the statute, the individual could not raise the defense.6 Id. at 208, 212. It reasoned that the language in the statute, "[t]he scope of the hearing is limited to the issues" listed, meant exactly that—the legislature limited the issues that can be raised. Id. at 208-09."

"Before us is a similar situation as that faced by the Axelberg court, but with a distinct difference. Here, as in Axelberg, Gray attempted to raise an issue outside the scope of Minnesota Statutes section 169A.53, subdivision 3(b), at the implied-consent hearing. But Gray's argument concerned his constitutional right to procedural due process, unlike the issue from Axelberg, which considered the common-law defense of necessity. 848 N.W.2d at 206 (noting that the defense of necessity is a common-law defense). We discern that this distinction—between a common-law affirmative defense and the constitutional right to due process—is significant, and conclude that Gray can raise a due-process argument at his implied-consent hearing."

"It is the critical nature of the constitutional right to due process, and its guarantee of fundamental fairness, that drives our determination. The importance of due process in judicial proceedings cannot be overstated, as it "is the primary and indispensable foundation of individual freedom." Application ofGault, 387 U.S. 1, 20, 87 S. Ct. 1428, 1439-40 (1967) (describing due process as "the basic and essential term in the social compact which defines the rights of the individual and delimits the powers which the state may exercise"). The hallmark of the procedural protections afforded by the due process clause is "fundamental fairness." Ford v. Wainwright, All U.S. 399, 424, 106 S. Ct. 2595, 2609 (1986). And while difficult to define exactly what procedural due process requires, courts have explained that it is this "fundamental fairness" that must be ascertained for a given situation. Lassiter v. Dep 't ofSoc. Servs., 452 U.S. 18, 24-25, 101 S. Ct. 2153, 2158 (1981). And proper notice is engrained in the concept of due process. Lambert v. California, 355 U.S. 225, 228, 78 S. Ct. 240, 243 (1957). Simply put, as Justice Marshall explained, "it is procedural due process that is our fundamental guarantee of fairness, our protection against arbitrary, capricious, and unreasonable government action." Bd. of Regents v. Roth, 408 U.S. 564, 589, 92 S. Ct. 2701, 2715 (1972) (Marshall, J., dissenting). Because of the importance of due process, it would be improper to determine that an individual cannot raise procedural due-process concerns at an implied-consent hearing."

"Furthermore, while the Minnesota Legislature may limit what arguments can be raised at an implied-consent hearing, it cannot legislate away constitutional rights."

Moral Of The Story:  The constitution trumps legislation every time!


If you or a loved one have been arrested for a Minnesota DWI or are facing the 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 and forfeiture questions.

Monday, July 23, 2018

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. Schwartz (Decided July 23, 2018, Minnesota Court Of Appeals, Unpublished) which stands for the proposition that even a very minor traffic offense will justify the stop of a motor vehicle.  

In Schwartz, St. Cloud police officer Darin Vessel was on routine patrol in downtown St. Cloud. He observed a vehicle exit a parking ramp, followed the vehicle, and observed two suspected traffic violations. First, Officer Vossen observed the vehicle cross over the centerline during a right turn. Next, Officer Vossen observed the vehicle travel on the centerline. Officer Vossen stopped the vehicle and identified its driver as appellant Ashley Amy Schwartz. Based on his subsequent observations of Schwartz's appearance, Officer Vossen arrested her for DWI.

After the Defendant was convicted, she appealed arguing that the stop of her vehicle was illegal. Schwartz acknowledged that she violated traffic laws, but she argue dthat the violations did not justify the stop of her vehicle because they were "brief and minimal." She further argued that the violations "did not interrupt traffic or pose a risk to public safety." 

The Minnesota Court of Appeals, rejected her contention stating:

"These arguments are unavailing because 'no matter how insignificant the traffic law,' a violation provides the requisite particularized and objective basis for a traffic stop. Anderson, 683 N.W.2d at 823; see also State v. McKinley, 305 Minn. 297, 304,232 N.W.2d 906, 911 (1975) ("All that is required is that the stop not be the product of mere whim, caprice, or idle curiosity)." 

The Court of Appeals noted that her driving conduct violated Minnesota Statute § 169.18 ("Upon all roadways of sufficient width a vehicle shall be driven upon the right half of the roadway") and, therefore, affirmed her conviction.

Moral Of The Story: There is no such thing as being just a little bit pregnant.



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