State v. Kelm

State v. Kelm, 2013 MT 115 (April 30, 2013) (5-0) (Baker, J.)

Issue: (1) Whether the district court properly suppressed all evidence gathered after Kelm’s arrest because the arresting officer did not comply with § 46-6-312, MCA; (2) whether the district court properly suppressed all evidence obtained after Kelm’s arrest because the officer failed to advise Kelm of her Miranda rights; (3) whether the district court properly suppressed evidence seized from Kelm’s vehicle.

Short Answer: (1) No, as the failure to comply did not affect Kelm’s substantial rights; (2) no, as Miranda protects only self-incriminating statements made while in custodial interrogation; and (3) no, as the officer was lawfully present in Kelm’s vehicle when he returned to turn her lights off.

Affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded

Facts: Early one February morning, Deputy Krause saw Kristin Kelm driving erratically. Krause followed Kelm for several miles, and saw her vehicle weave within its lane, touch the fog line and the center line, and cross the center line 2-3 times. Krause initiated a traffic stop. When Krause approached the driver’s side window, Kelm gave him her driver’s license. He remarked that her eyes looked bloodshot and glassy, and asked if she had been drinking. Kelm said no.

Without having Kelm get out of the car, Krause administered a horizontal nystagmus test to determine if she was intoxicated. He scored her at 4 out of a possible 6, indicating intoxication. When asked again, Kelm said she’d had one drink.

Krause determined Kelm had to pass field sobriety tests before resuming driving. Because it was minus-one degree outside, with snow and ice on the highway, Krause asked if Kelm would perform the tests at the Sheridan County Jail. She agreed, turned off her truck, and gave the keys to Krause. In accordance with department policy, Krause handcuffed Kelm before placing her in the back of his patrol car. Krause did not inform Kelm she was under arrest.

Krause then saw that Kelm had not turned off her truck’s lights. She gave him permission to do so, and he unlocked the truck, reached in from the driver’s side and turned off the lights. As he walked away he saw the dome light was still on, so returned to the truck and opened the door again. He immediately noticed a half-full beer bottle on the floor as well as a plastic cup in the passenger cup holder filled with green liquid that smelled like alcohol. Krause emptied both, and asked Kelm about the green liquid. She could not identify it and denied drinking it. At the jail, Kelm performed and failed three field sobriety tests. Deputy Ginn informed Kelm she was under arrest for DUI. Kelm agreed to take a breath test, which showed her BAC as .198. Krause read Kelm her Miranda rights, and formally booked her.

Kelm was charged with unlawful possession of an open container, failure to drive on the right side of the road, and DUI. The justice court denied Kelm’s motion to suppress all evidence collected after her arrest, and Kelm pled guilty but reserved her right to appeal the denial of her motion to suppress.

Procedural Posture & Holding: Kelm moved the district court to suppress evidence against her. After a hearing, the court denied Kelm’s motion regarding the HGN test. It granted Kelm’s motion to suppress evidence of the beer bottle and cup, holding Krause was not lawfully present in Kelm’s vehicle and that the plain view doctrine did not apply. Finally, it granted Kelm’s motion to suppress all evidence gathered between her arrest and the Miranda warnings, and further held that because Krause did not advise Kelm of her Miranda rights immediately after arresting her, her arrest was unlawful and all evidence subsequently obtained must be suppressed. The state appeals, and the Supreme Court affirms, reverses, and remands to allow Kelm to withdraw her guilty plea and proceed to trial.