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State v. Brooks

Supreme Court of Minnesota

October 23, 2013

State of Minnesota, Respondent,
v.
Wesley Eugene Brooks, Appellant.

Office of Appellate Courts Court of Appeals.

Lori Swanson, Attorney General, Saint Paul, Minnesota; and Patrick J. Ciliberto, Scott County Attorney, Todd P. Zettler, Assistant County Attorney, Shakopee, Minnesota, for respondent.

Michael O. Freeman, Hennepin County Attorney, Michael Richardson, Assistant County Attorney, Minneapolis, Minnesota; and Jeffrey S. Sheridan, Strandemo, Sheridan & Dulas, P.A., Eagan, Minnesota; and Eric McCloud, McCloud Law Firm, PLLC, Saint Paul, Minnesota, for appellant.

Lori Swanson, Attorney General, Alan I. Gilbert, Solicitor General, Stephen D. Melchionne, Assistant Attorney General, Saint Paul, Minnesota, for amicus curiae State of Minnesota.

SYLLABUS

When, based on the totality of the circumstances, appellant consented to the search, police did not need a warrant to search appellant's blood or urine.

OPINION

GILDEA, Chief Justice.

The question presented in this case is whether the police violated the Fourth Amendment rights of appellant Wesley Eugene Brooks when they took blood and urine samples from him without a search warrant. Because we conclude that Brooks consented to the searches at issue, and thus that a warrant was unnecessary, we affirm.

This case arises out of three separate driving incidents that took place during a 6-month period from July 31, 2009, to January 25, 2010. The first incident happened in Scott County on July 31, 2009. At 2:06 a.m., a Shakopee police officer stopped a white SUV driving quickly away from a bar. The driver, Wesley Eugene Brooks, smelled of alcohol. After the officer had Brooks get out of his car, Brooks refused to perform field sobriety tests until he could talk to his attorney, who was a passenger in the SUV. After the attorney told Brooks not to perform any field sobriety tests, the officer brought Brooks to the St. Francis Medical Center.

Once they arrived, the officer started to read to Brooks the Minnesota implied consent advisory. That advisory informs drivers that Minnesota law requires them to take a chemical test for the presence of alcohol, that refusing to take a test is a crime, and that drivers have the right to talk to a lawyer before deciding whether to take a test, "but that this right is limited to the extent that it cannot unreasonably delay administration of the test." Minn. Stat. § 169A.51, subd. 2 (2012).

At first, Brooks refused to listen. The officer then brought Brooks to a telephone. Brooks asked the officer to read the advisory again, while his attorney listened over the phone. Brooks then agreed to provide a urine sample. The alcohol concentration in his urine was .14, above the legal limit of .08. See Minn. Stat. § 169A.20, subd. 1(5) (2012). Police did not attempt to secure a search warrant in connection with the July 31, 2009 incident.

The second incident took place in Hennepin County on January 16, 2010. At 7:03 p.m., a Minnesota state trooper was on duty in Minneapolis when Brooks passed her in a pick-up truck on Interstate 35. The trooper saw sparks flying underneath the truck and pulled Brooks over. Brooks appeared to be under the influence so the trooper put Brooks in the back of her squad car while she completed some administrative duties. She then brought Brooks to the Hennepin County Medical Center, where she read him the implied consent advisory.

The trooper gave Brooks access to a phone and phone books, and Brooks called his attorney. Brooks then agreed to take a urine test, but when two Minneapolis police officers accompanied Brooks to the bathroom, he could not urinate. The officers asked Brooks if he would be willing to take a blood test instead. Brooks called his attorney again, and then agreed to take a blood test. The alcohol concentration in Brooks's blood sample was .16. Police did not attempt to secure a search warrant in connection with the January 16, 2010 incident.

The third incident took place in Scott County on January 25, 2010. At 7:11 a.m., Prior Lake police responded to reports of a "slumper" who had been driving erratically but was now sleeping behind the wheel of his car. Police found Brooks's car on the road between two middle schools. Brooks was unconscious in the driver's seat. The car was running and in gear, and Brooks had his foot on the brake. Police noticed that Brooks's breath smelled of alcohol, and his eyes were bloodshot and watery. His balance was unsteady, and two officers had to help him walk. Brooks did not answer police questions about performing field sobriety tests. As officers tried to talk to Brooks, he repeatedly talked over them and asked if the police had seen him driving.

Police eventually arrested Brooks, and brought him to the Prior Lake Police Department. As an officer tried to read Brooks the implied consent advisory, Brooks refused to sit in a chair and listen. Brooks became agitated and asked for his attorney. Because Brooks was agitated, the officer put Brooks back in the squad car and brought him to the Scott County Jail. Once they arrived, the officer again started reading the implied consent advisory to Brooks, who stood against the wall and refused to sit. While the officer read the advisory, Brooks talked over him and asked for his attorney. The officer gave Brooks a phone, and Brooks insisted that he speak with his attorney on speakerphone.

During the conversation between Brooks and his attorney, Brooks became agitated again and tried to tip over a table with his hands. Because of Brooks's agitation, the officer ended the phone call 5 minutes after it had started. When the officer asked Brooks if he would take a urine test, Brooks responded, "I'll piss in a cup." The alcohol concentration in Brooks's urine sample was .16. Police did not attempt to secure a search warrant in connection with the January 25, 2010 incident.

In each of the three separate incidents, the State of Minnesota charged Brooks with two counts of first-degree driving while impaired, Minn. Stat. §§ 169A.20, subd. 1(1), 169A.24 (2012), and Minn. Stat. §§ 169A.20, subd. 1(5), 169A.24.[1] Brooks moved to suppress the results of the blood and urine tests in each of the three cases because police took the samples without a warrant. The two Scott County cases were heard together, and the district court denied Brooks's request to suppress the two urine tests, concluding that the evanescent quality of alcohol in the body created exigent circumstances that excused police from seeking a warrant. In the ...


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