City of Jamestown v. CasarezAnnotate this Case
Santos Casarez, III appealed when his motion to suppress evidence was denied, and his conditional guilty plea to refusing to take a chemical breath test was accepted. Jamestown Police Officer Andrew Noreen witnessed a physical altercation between Casarez and a female outside a bar in Jamestown. Officer Renfro was also at the scene and spoke to the female and Casarez. During Renfro’s conversation with Casarez, he smelled an odor of alcohol on Casarez’s breath, and observed Casarez’s poor balance and bloodshot eyes. At that point Renfro formed the opinion Casarez was not capable of lawfully driving a motor vehicle. Renfro provided Casarez with the necessary information to provide bail for his girlfriend, and advised him to take a cab to the law enforcement center (LEC) due to his intoxication. During their conversation, Renfro learned Casarez drove a gold GMC Yukon. Renfro then left the scene. Forty-five minutes later, Renfro observed a gold GMC Yukon parked outside the LEC, along with a man he believed to be Casarez standing inside the lobby. Renfro observed the unoccupied Yukon was running with its lights on. Renfro made contact with Casarez in the lobby, observing the same signs of impairment as earlier. Renfro began talking to Casarez to confirm or dispel his suspicion Casarez had driven to the LEC. Renfro ultimately placed Casarez under investigation for driving under the influence. He requested Casarez complete a Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN) test, and confirmed from LEC security camera footage, Casarez drove himself. Renfro requested Casarez submit to a preliminary breath test and placed Casarez under arrest; leading to the charges under appeal. Casarez argued Jamestown Municipal Code section 21-04-06 was in direct conflict with N.D.C.C. section 39-08-01 after the Legislature’s 2019 amendment to the statute, and the Ordinance was void because it conflicted with a state statute. The North Dakota Supreme Court found no reversible error and affirmed the district court's judgment.