Monday, February 29, 2016

Minneapolis DWI Lawyer Blogs on Minnesota DWI: This Week's Featured Minnesota DWI Case

The Minnesota DWI Case Of The Week is State v. Joecks (Decided February 29, 2016, Minnesota Court of Appeals, Unpublished) which stands for the proposition that an individual does not have a reasonable expectation of privacy in a police search of the Minnesota Driver's License Database.

In Joecks, the Defendant was driving a car in Hutchinson, Minnesota, (where everybody knows everybody).  A local police officer saw Joecks driving, and based upon his past encounters with the Defendant, the officer believed Joecks' did not have a valid driver's license.  The officer then ran a license check and found that Joeck's license was revoked.  The officer then stopped Joeck's vehicle and subsequently placed him under arrest for DWI.

The Defendant challenged the stop of his vehicle, arguing that the officer had no right to run a check of his driver's license status.  The District denied the Defendant's motion to suppress and on appeal, the Minnesota Court of Appeals affirmed, noting:

"The constitutional protections against unreasonable searches and seizures are not triggered unless a person has a legitimate expectation of privacy. State v. Gail, 713 N.W.2d 851, 860 (Minn. 2006). A person has a legitimate expectation of privacy when he has 'an actual subjective expectation of privacy' that 'society is prepared to recognize as reasonable.' Id. (quotations omitted). Joecks did not present evidence that showed that he had a subjective expectation of privacy with respect to the driver's-license database. And even if we assume that he had a subjective expectation of privacy in the database maintained by the state, his expectation is not one that society is prepared to recognize as reasonable. One of the purposes of the driver's-license database is to inform law-enforcement agencies about drivers whose license or driving privileges have been revoked. Given this purpose, which requires that law-enforcement agencies have access to the database, Joeck's expectation of privacy is not reasonable.  Therefore, no constitutional protection against a search of the database was triggered."

Moral Of The Story: Don't Break the Law Before You Break The Law.