Monday, December 17, 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DWI Case Of The Week is Sawyer v. Commissioner of Public Safety (Decided December 17, 2018, Minnesota Court of Appeals, Unpublished), which stands for the proposition that "speeding" is sufficient violation of the traffic laws to justify a stop by the police.  Well, duh.  Sometimes, I wonder why people even bother to appeal such stupid questions.  Oh well...

In Sawyer, a state trooper arrested appellant Kurt William Sawyer for driving while impaired. Appellant later failed a breath test for alcohol, and his driver’s license was revoked. He challenged the license revocation, asserting that there was no basis for “the initial stop or intrusion,” and therefore he was impermissibly seized.  

The trooper testified that she was stopped at the intersection of two highways, 87 and 371, and noticed a pickup leave an establishment that sells alcohol. The pickup turned west on 87. The trooper made a U-turn and followed the pickup. The speed limit on that road goes from 40 to 30 miles per hour heading into the City of Backus. The trooper testified that the pickup was initially driving within the speed limit, but it did not slow down when it hit the 30 mile-per-hour zone; rather, according to the trooper’s radar the pickup increased its speed to 43 miles per hour. The trooper pursued the pickup. The pickup quickly turned south onto a side street, and the trooper followed. The trooper believed that the pickup was speeding up and attempting to evade. When the trooper hit gravel on the side street, she activated her lights. She followed the vehicle up a driveway and saw it pull into a garage. Appellant got out of the pickup, the trooper and appellant made eye contact, and the garage door closed. The trooper opened a service door to the garage, flipped a light switch, and yelled for appellant to come out. She then walked away from the garage and called for backup. Appellant walked out of the garage and ignored the trooper as if she was not there. The trooper ordered appellant to come to the squad car, and appellant then complied.

The district court filed an order sustaining the revocation of appellant’s driving privileges. The court concluded that there was a valid basis for the stop because the trooper observed appellant going 43 in a 30 mile-per-hour zone and seized appellant for that reason.  

On appeal, the Minnesota Court of Appeals affirmed the District Court, noting:

"Here, the district court found that the trooper observed appellant speeding and temporarily seized appellant for that reason. The record supports these findings. The trooper had a reasonable, articulable basis to temporarily seize appellant. “Generally, if an officer observes a violation of a traffic law, no matter how insignificant the traffic law, that observation forms the requisite particularized and objective basis for conducting a traffic stop.” Wilkes v. Comm’r of Pub. Safety, 111 N.W.2d 239, 243 (Minn. App. 2010) (quotation omitted)."

Moral Of The Story:  Slow down and smell the roses!

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.

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