Wednesday, February 13, 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The Minnesota DWI Case Of The Week is State v. Oman (Decided February 11, 2019, Minnesota Court of Appeals, Unpublished) which stands for the proposition that if you are going to drive drunk, you had better take your time.

Mr. Oman was observed rapidly accelerating from a stop sign by a Hermantown police officer.  The officer initiated a traffic stop of Mr. Oman's pickup and things went rapidly downhill from there.  While Oman was speaking, the officer noticed a strong smell of alcohol and observed that Oman’s eyes were glossy and bloodshot. Oman admitted to drinking three beers before driving. The officer then requested that Oman perform field sobriety tests, which Oman agreed to do. But Oman failed the field sobriety tests and his preliminary breath test.  Mr. Oman was placed under arrest and at the police station, he tested at a .16% BAC.

The Defendant moved to suppress all of the evidence arguing that the initial stop was illegal. The district court denied Oman’s motion on the ground that the officer was acting upon his professional determination that Oman accelerated too fast in violation of a Proctor city ordinance.

The Minnesota Court of Appeals affirmed the district court noting that the Proctor City Ordinance states:

"No person shall turn, accelerate, decelerate, or otherwise operate a motor vehicle on any public or private roadway within the City in a manner which causes unnecessary engine noise or backfire, squealing tires, skidding, sliding, swaying, throwing of sand or gravel, or in a manner simulating a race, impeding traffic, or with an unnecessary exhibition of speed. (Emphasis the court's)

The Court of Appeals then found:

"Multiple facts in the record support the district court’s finding. The officer testified that he observed Oman’s vehicle stop at a stop sign, then “accelerate very fast” down the street. When Oman’s vehicle left the stop sign, the officer heard the loud acceleration of the motor, which he testified seemed excessive. By the time the officer turned the comer to follow, Oman’s vehicle was near the end of the block. The video from the dashboard camera mounted in the patrol car confirms the officer’s testimony. It shows Oman’s vehicle far ahead of the squad car by the time the officer made a turn. And while the patrol car caught up to Oman’s vehicle, the dashboard-camera video recorded that the patrol car had to move at a speed of 41 miles per hour to do so....The dashboard-camera video explicitly shows Oman accelerating away from the stop sign at a fast speed."

"...Oman’s analogy to Bender is misplaced. In Bender, this court determined that the officer did not have a reasonable articulable suspicion for instigating the investigatory stop because the officer did not suspect the driver of being under the influence or committing any other traffic offenses. Bender, 381 N.W.2d at 897. Instead, the officer testified that the basis for the stop was that the driver’s car was making excessive noise. Id. at 898. And the officer never testified that the noise level would have constituted a traffic violation. Id. Unlike Bender, the testimony here shows that the officer reasonably suspected Oman of violating the Proctor city code provision prohibiting unreasonable acceleration."

Moral Of The Story: Haste makes waste!

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.