State v. Mazzola

Summarized by:

  • Court: Oregon Supreme Court
  • Area(s) of Law: Criminal Procedure
  • Date Filed: 03-05-2015
  • Case #: S062126
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Brewer, J. for the Court; En Banc.
  • Full Text Opinion

Field Sobriety Tests (FSTs) are searches for which a warrant generally is required under the Oregon Constitution Article I, section 9; an exception to the warrant requirement is a search conducted with probable cause or under exigent circumstances.

A police officer observed unsafe driving and stopped Defendant for two traffic violations. Over the course of the stop, the officer observed signs of intoxication and developed probable cause to arrest Defendant for driving under the influence of intoxicants (DUII). The officer asked Defendant to perform three field sobriety tests (FSTs), after which the officer arrested Defendant for DUII. Defendant filed a pretrial motion to suppress evidence obtained as a result of the DUII investigation. The trial court denied that motion, and, the Court of Appeals affirmed the conviction. The Court considered whether, in denying Defendant’s motion to suppress, the trial court erred in concluding that exigent circumstances existed, giving rise to probable cause to arrest Defendant for DUII and justify the warrantless administration of the FSTs. The State asserted that requiring officers to weigh the length of time required to obtain a search warrant against the challenge of determining the dissipation rate of the effects of a suspected drug or combination of intoxicants will result in the loss of valuable evidence of impaired driving. The Court concluded that, because Defendant was subject to arrest for DUII, and the administration of the challenged FSTs was reasonable in time, scope, and intensity, the evidence of exigent circumstances in this case was sufficient to make the warrantless administration of those tests constitutionally permissible. The decision of the Court of Appeals and the judgment of the circuit court are affirmed.

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