The Minnesota DWI Case Of The Week is State v. Dean (Decided March 26, 2018, Minnesota Court of Appeals, Unpublished) which stands for the proposition that, once again, if the police observe ANY traffic violation, the courts are going to uphold the stop.
In Dean, a state trooper witnessed appellant James Byron Dean's car make a wide left turn and straddle a lane divider line for up to 80 feet. The trooper stopped the car and soon suspected Dean was under the influence of alcohol. The trooper requested Dean perform field sobriety tests and that he take a preliminary breath test. Dean agreed, but failed the field sobriety tests and the preliminary breath test showed Dean had an alcohol concentration of 0.15. The trooper arrested Dean and informed him that he must submit to a chemical test. Dean refused. Dean was ultimately charged with a DWI and refusal to submit to a chemical test.
Mr. Dean moved to suppress all of the evidence arguing that the initial stop of his motor vehicle was illegal. The district court denied the motion and on appeal, the Minnesota Court of Appeals agreed with the district court, noting:
"Minnesota Statutes section 169.18, subdivision 7(a), discusses improperly crossing over traffic lanes. This statute provides:
When any roadway has been divided into two or more clearly marked lanes for traffic, the following rules, in addition to all others consistent herewith, shall apply:
(a) A vehicle shall be driven as nearly as practicable entirely within a single lane and shall not be moved from such lane until the driver has first ascertained that such movement can be made with safety."
"In Kruse, this court concluded that lanes encompass the area between the markings delineating traffic, but not the markings themselves. Kruse v. Comm'r of Pub. Safety, 906 N.W.2d 554, 558 (Minn. App. 2018). As a result 'driving on the markings constitutes movement from a lane and a potential violation of the statute.' Id. This court concluded that driving on the far-right solid-white line for an unspecified amount of time, but not crossing over it, provided reasonable grounds to suspect a violation of Minnesota Statutes section 169.18, subdivision 7(a), because it meant the defendant 'moved from his lane of traffic.' Kruse, 906 N.W.2d at 560."
"Our recent decision in Kruse dictates the outcome of this case as well. Like Kruse, the record shows that Dean improperly moved out of his lane of traffic. Testimony showed that Dean made a left-hand turn onto Second Street, which is a four-lane road, two lanes going in each direction. When he turned into the left westbound lane, the right side of his vehicle drove over the lane divider by about six inches, for approximately 60 to 80 feet. With this evidence, the district court's finding that Dean straddled both westbound lanes is not clearly erroneous. And by going over the line dividing the two westbound lanes, Dean moved from his lane of traffic, in violation of Minnesota Statutes section 169.18, subdivision 7(a), and the trooper had an objectively reasonable basis to believe a traffic violation occurred. See Kruse, 906 N.W.2d at 558."
Moral Of The Story: It is always important to stay in bounds!
If you or a loved one are facing 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.