G.V.M. v. Comm'r of Pub. Safety - License Revocation for Test Refusal Thrown Out
A police officer stopped our client for crossing the centerline. The officer claimed that our client nearly struck the officer’s vehicle, and only by taking evasive action did the officer avoid a head-on collision. Review of the squad video actually supported this testimony.
After stopping our client, the officer conducted field sobriety tests. Our client failed the sobriety tests and refused the roadside breath test, at which point the officer arrested him and took him to the city jail. In jail, the officere read the Minnesota Breath Test Advisory to our client, letting him know that under Minnesota law it is a crime to refuse breath testing.
GVM refused to take this breath test too. As a result, the Department of Public Safety revoked his license to drive for 1 year, and the prosecutor charged GVM with a Gross Misdemeanor DWI – test refusal. Since our client was employed in a highly sensitive government position, he came to us for help.
We obtained all the reports and recordings, scrutinizing them for any glimmer of hope. We looked at the squad recording and noticed the officer had committed several traffic violations seconds before encountering our client on the roadway. The officer rolled through a stop sign at an intersection, and then turned left shortly before encountering our client on a dark roadway as he was rounding a curve. GVM swerved, but we argued the swerve was in reaction to the officer’s failure to yield for our client.
The court agreed. “Where an officer's negligent behavior materially contributes to the purported traffic violation given as the basis for the stop, it cannot be said that the officer had reasonable, articulable suspicion.”
Ultimately the Court rescinded the license revocation as a result of the officer’s unconstitutional stop of our client’s vehicle. He got his license back, along with a clean driving record.
Now we’re off to fight the criminal case….