The Bismarck Tribune

North Dakota Supreme Court Dismisses Sobriety Check Case

The North Dakota Supreme Court cannot decide the constitutionality of sobriety checkpoints.


Bismarck, ND -- (ReleaseWire) -- 07/07/2006 --Brian Ehli, of Bismarck, was arrested on Sept. 17, 2005, for driving under the influence, possession of drug paraphernalia and possession of marijuana. He was later charged for the offenses in South Central District Court.

Ehli had been stopped at a North Dakota Highway Patrol sobriety checkpoint in Morton County on the Expressway Bridge just before the Memorial Highway exit.

Ehli pleaded not guilty to all three charges in district court. He also moved to suppress the evidence obtained when he was stopped at the checkpoint, arguing that the checkpoint violated the Fourth Amendment because a motorist approaching the checkpoint had no way to avoid it.

On Jan. 17, Judge Bruce Riskedahl granted Ehli's motion, citing a North Dakota Supreme Court ruling that said it is not constitutional to set up a checkpoint where the driver does not have the option of turning around without committing a traffic violation that would justify a stop.

On Jan. 18, the state moved to dismiss the case, because of the decision to suppress evidence. The case was dismissed on Jan. 20, and the state filed its notice of appeal on Feb. 7.

Because the state had previously asked for the case to be dismissed, the Supreme Court ruled that the case could not be appealed.

"The state's appeal is moot," wrote Supreme Court Justice Mary Maring in the decision.

Maring wrote that the state could have appealed Riskedahl's order granting the suppression of evidence before asking that the case be dismissed.

Attorneys involved in the case couldn't be reached for comment.