State v. Othoudt, CX-90-2145

CourtSupreme Court of Minnesota (US)
Citation482 N.W.2d 218
Docket NumberNo. CX-90-2145,CX-90-2145
PartiesSTATE of Minnesota, Appellant, v. Richard William OTHOUDT, Respondent.
Decision Date13 March 1992

Page 218

482 N.W.2d 218
STATE of Minnesota, Appellant,
v.
Richard William OTHOUDT, Respondent.
No. CX-90-2145.
Supreme Court of Minnesota.
March 13, 1992.

Page 220

Syllabus by the Court

1. The entry of a dwelling by a law enforcement officer will not be deemed to have been made with consent unless the officer has received some manifestation of consent.

2. Responses to questions of a law enforcement officer who enters a dwelling without a warrant do not, without more, provide consent to the warrantless entry.

3. The "emergency" exception to the constitutional prohibition on warrantless entries does not apply to a law enforcement officer's entry of a dwelling when the officer has been told not to come, and can determine, prior to entry, that medical aid is already being provided.

Hubert H. Humphrey, III, Atty. Gen., St. Paul, and Thomas D. Hayes, Sherburne County Atty., Dean E. Emanuel, Asst. County Atty., Elk River, for appellant.

D. Sherwood McKinnis, Parker, Satrom, O'Neil, Lindberg & McKinnis, Cambridge, for respondent.

Heard, considered, and decided by the court en banc.

OPINION

GARDEBRING, Justice.

This case arises from the arrest of Richard Othoudt, in his home, for driving while under the influence of alcohol on January 30, 1990. Othoudt was charged with driving under the influence of alcohol within five years of a prior impaired driving conviction, in violation of Minn.Stat. Sec. 169.121, subd. 1(a) and 3(b); refusal to submit to testing, in violation of Minn.Stat. Sec. 169.121, subd. 1(a) and 3(c); and failure to notify police of a personal injury accident, in violation of Minn.Stat. Sec. 169.09, subd. 6 and 14(c). After a contested omnibus hearing, pursuant to Minn.R.Crim.P. 11, the trial court found that the state's warrantless

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entry and search of the Othoudt home, culminating in the arrest of respondent, was in violation of the fourth amendment of the United States Constitution and article I of the Minnesota Constitution. The court suppressed all evidence of intoxication obtained pursuant to the illegal arrest. The court found no probable cause to support the charges without the illegally obtained evidence, and dismissed the complaint. The court of appeals affirmed in State v. Othoudt, 469 N.W.2d 321 (Minn.App.1991).

At approximately 8:00 p.m. on January 30, 1990, Sherburne County Deputy Sheriff Steven Olmanson was dispatched to investigate a traffic accident. When he arrived at the scene of the accident, he found that a pickup truck had struck a tree. Although the truck's windshield was broken and there was blood on the interior of the vehicle, the driver was not present. While Deputy Olmanson and other officers were investigating the scene, hoping to locate the driver, the sheriff's office dispatcher notified Deputy Olmanson that Dawn Othoudt, respondent's wife, had called to report the accident, and had said she was the driver of the vehicle and was not injured. Because of the blood in the vehicle, the dispatcher directed Deputy Olmanson and an ambulance to go to the Othoudt residence.

The ambulance personnel arrived at the Othoudt residence first and began attending to Dawn Othoudt in the entryway of the house. When Deputy Olmanson arrived he walked up to the house and entered it as an ambulance attendant was exiting. He did not knock or ask permission to enter, prior to entering the home, although he could see Dawn Othoudt in the entryway. Dawn Othoudt did not give him permission to enter. After entering the house Deputy Olmanson began questioning Dawn Othoudt about the accident and her injuries.

During the questioning Dawn Othoudt admitted that she had not been the driver of the car and said that her husband had been driving. She also said that he had been drinking all day and was drunk. As she said this she pointed upstairs. Deputy Olmanson and the ambulance attendant, followed by Dawn Othoudt, went upstairs and into respondent's bedroom, where he was in bed. After asking respondent whether he was injured, Deputy Olmanson asked him to get out of bed and get dressed, and continued questioning him about the accident. As they talked Deputy Olmanson observed that respondent's breath smelled of alcohol, his eyes were bloodshot and slightly glassy, his speech was slurred and he was a little uncoordinated. Deputy Olmanson escorted respondent downstairs, arrested him, placed him in handcuffs and took him to the sheriff's office.

Normally, this court will only reverse a pre-trial decision of the trial court suppressing evidence if the State demonstrates "clearly and unequivocally that the trial court has erred in its judgment and that, unless reversed, the error will have a critical impact on the outcome of the trial." State v. Webber, 262 N.W.2d 157, 159 (Minn.1977). However, when reviewing a pre-trial order suppressing evidence where the facts are not in dispute and the trial court's decision is a question of law, the reviewing court may independently review the facts and determine, as a matter of law, whether the evidence need be suppressed. See State v. Storvick, 428 N.W.2d 55, 58 n. 1 (Minn.1988) (citing Berge v. Commissioner of Public Safety, 374 N.W.2d 730, 732 (Minn.1985)).

The fourth amendment to the United States Constitution, and article I of the Minnesota Constitution, proscribe unreasonable searches and seizures by the government of "persons, houses, papers and effects." U.S. Const. amend. IV; Minn. Const. art. I, Sec. 10. 1 Under the

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Fourth amendment, searches conducted outside the judicial process are per se unreasonable, subject to...

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