Monday, October 09, 2006

Community Caretaker Function Supports Vehicle Stop, OWI Arrest.

In State v. Brunk, 05-1468 (Iowa Ct. App. Sept. 21, 2006), a defendant moved to suppress evidence.

Ottumwa dispatch received an anonymous call that a man in a red pickup next to a restaurant looked unwell. An officer was dispatched and saw a red pickup leave the restaurant parking lot. The officer called his dispatcher to make sure that the description of the truck matched what he saw and when so advised, he stopped the vehicle although he did not observe any traffic violations.

A preliminary breath test and other observations revealed an intoxicated driver and the defendant was arrested and prosecuted for drunk driving. He moved to suppress the evidence, arguing that there was no reasonable cause to stop his truck. The trial court denied his motion, finding that the community caretaker exception justified the stop. This appeal followed.

The court of appeals conducted a three step analysis. Concluding that there was a seizure, the court examined what the officer knew when he stopped the vehicle. It was reasonable for the officer to briefly stop the vehicle to ascertain whether the driver needed assistance or was safe to continue. The public need and interest required the officer to determine the driver's condition outweighed a minimal intrusion, and the officer did no more than was required to determine whether the driver needed assistance.


Post a Comment

<< Home