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State v. Hopkins

Supreme Court of South Dakota

April 12, 2017

STATE OF SOUTH DAKOTA, Plaintiff and Appellee,
v.
MATTHEW LAMAR HOPKINS, Defendant and Appellant.

          CONSIDERED ON BRIEFS MARCH 22, 2017

         APPEAL FROM THE CIRCUIT COURT OF THE FIRST JUDICIAL CIRCUIT HUTCHINSON COUNTY, SOUTH DAKOTA THE HONORABLE PATRICK SMITH Judge

          MARTY J. JACKLEY Attorney General CULLEN P. MCNEECE Assistant Attorney General Pierre, South Dakota Attorneys for plaintiff and appellee.

          KENNETH E. LEHR Scotland, South Dakota Attorney for defendant and appellant.

          SEVERSON, Justice

         [¶1.] Following a court trial, the circuit court found Matthew Hopkins guilty of driving with .08 percent blood alcohol content. Hopkins also pleaded guilty to a part II information alleging that this was his second driving under the influence offense. On appeal, Hopkins asserts that the circuit court erred when it denied a motion to suppress evidence. We affirm.

         Background

         [¶2.] On the evening of September 25, 2015, Officer Wagner was completing paperwork at the Parkston Police Department when she heard a loud vehicle pass by. She looked up from her work and observed a white vehicle traveling at a high rate of speed. She immediately went to her patrol car and tried to use radar to determine the speed of the vehicle but was unsuccessful. The vehicle turned into a gas station and Officer Wagner followed. When she arrived, the vehicle was unoccupied. She entered the gas station and asked the clerk who was driving the white vehicle. The clerk responded that it was the clerk's son and that he was in the bathroom.

         [¶3.] When the driver of the vehicle, Matthew Hopkins, exited the bathroom, he had his hands in his pants pockets. Officer Wagner asked that Hopkins remove his hands from his pockets and step outside with her because she had a couple questions for him. Officer Wagner testified that he initially removed his hands from his pockets but then placed them back inside the pockets. She asked him twice to take his hands out of his pockets but he refused. Officer Wagner testified that when she got outside with Hopkins, she told him, "I'm going to put you in cuffs for my safety because you continue to put your hands in your pocket. . . . At this point you're just being detained, you're not under arrest." She then frisked him and asked him why he was driving so fast. He responded that he had to get his car to his mother before she finished work. During this encounter, she could smell alcohol. While he was still in handcuffs, she asked him if he had been drinking. He responded that he drank a couple of beers. She then placed him in the back of her car and took his driver's license to run a check. "[E]verything came back okay" so she got him out of the car, took the handcuffs off of him, and asked him to do field sobriety tests. He did not perform well on several tests. Officer Wagner gave him a preliminary breath test that showed a .138 percent blood alcohol content. She placed Hopkins under arrest and read him his Miranda rights. See Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436, 86 S.Ct. 1602, 16 L.Ed.2d 694 (1966). She also asked if he would consent to a blood draw, which he refused. After obtaining a warrant, a blood draw was performed. Hopkins' blood alcohol content was .162 percent.

         [¶4.] Hopkins was charged with alternative counts of driving under the influence and driving with .08 percent or more by weight of alcohol in his blood. He moved to suppress the statements that he made to law enforcement (that he had been driving and drinking), asserting that he was subject to a custodial interrogation and entitled to being advised of his Miranda rights. See id. He also sought to suppress all physical evidence obtained by law enforcement alleging it to be "fruit of the poisonous tree." See Wong Sun v. United States, 371 U.S. 471, 83 S.Ct. 407, 9 L.Ed.2d 441 (1963). After a hearing, the circuit court denied Hopkins' motion to suppress and the case proceeded to a court trial. The court found Hopkins guilty of driving with .08 percent or more by weight of alcohol in his blood. Hopkins pleaded guilty to a part II information alleging a second offense driving while under the influence. On appeal to this Court, Hopkins alleges that the circuit court erred when it failed to suppress his statements and the physical evidence obtained by law enforcement.

         Standard of Review

         [¶5.] "A motion to suppress based on an alleged violation of a constitutionally protected right is a question of law reviewed de novo." State v. Rademaker, 2012 S.D. 28, ¶ 7, 813 N.W.2d 174, 176 (quoting State v. Wright, 2010 S.D. 91, ¶ 8, 791 N.W.2d 791, 794). "The trial court's factual findings are reviewed under the clearly erroneous standard. Once the facts have been determined, however, the application of a legal standard to those facts is a question of law reviewed de novo. This Court will not be restricted by the trial court's legal rationale." Id.

         Analysis

         [¶6.] There is no dispute that Hopkins was not advised of his Miranda rights prior to the officer asking him why he had been driving so fast and whether he had been drinking. However, only "[i]ndividuals subject to a custodial interrogation are entitled to Miranda warnings." State v. McCahren, 2016 S.D. 34, ¶ 30, 878 N.W.2d 586, 599. In this case, Hopkins was subjected to an investigatory detention, i.e. a Terry stop. See Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1, 88 S.Ct. 1868, 20 L.Ed.2d 889 (1968). In the interest of her safety, Officer Wagner secured Hopkins and performed a ...


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