The Iowa Court of Appeals has reversed the O.W.I. conviction of a Linn County woman over a phone call. Brandee Rae Pettengill was sitting in her car in the parking lot of a Marion convenience store around 2:30 A.M. on March fourth of 2008.
A police officer in the store noticed a man get out of another car nearby, pull down his pants and moon Pettengill. The officer went to the parking lot to check to see if the 21-year-old Pettengill and the driver of the other car had been drinking. Pettengill failed the field sobriety test, as did the female driver of the other car.
Both were taken to jail. Pettengill asked to call her father before agreeing to give officers a breath test. Pettengill’s father was groggy after answering the phone. Pettengill explained her situation and asked for help getting a lawyer. The also talked about other things, and after 15-minutes, the officer told her to end the call.
Pettengill testified that she was not told she could place any further phone calls, although the arresting officer testified he asked if she wanted to call anyone else. Pettengill’s breath test showed a blood alcohol content of .139, well over the legal limit. Pettengill sought to have the breath test results suppressed, saying her rights to make the calls needed to get ahold of a lawyer were violated.
The district court found that Pettengill was provided a reasonable amount of time to discuss her options with a family member and allowed the test. She was convicted of second offense O.W.I. The Iowa Court of Appeals ruled that the officer cut off Pettengill’s phone call when he did not need to, and left her with the impression she could not make other calls. The court says the breath test should not be allowed and Pettengill should be given a new trial.