A driver of a moving van has won half his appeal on a drunken driving and drug-possession conviction.
The Utah Court of Appeals has upheld the jury verdict finding North American Van Lines driver Donald Carlton Shamblin guilty of driving under the influence. But the judges reversed his drug conviction.A search of Shamblin's van following his April 15, 1987, arrest for investigation of drunken driving turned up marijuana and a marijuana pipe in a shaving kit bag found in the truck's sleeper compartment.
Shamblin maintained the drug discovery violated his constitutional rights against unlawful search and seizure, and the three-member court agreed.
Shamblin's van was stopped after he failed to turn off at a Utah Highway Patrol port of entry on I-15. The UHP trooper told him to turn around and return to the port of entry, but Shamblin did not and was arrested.
During the trucker's trial, trooper James Lloyd testified Shamblin's blood alcohol level was .18, more than double the .08 Utah limit for presumption of driving under the influence.
Lloyd told the court he then impounded the van and conducted an inventory of its contents, as required by UHP procedures, finding the drugs in the bag.
But the appeals court said the patrol regulations failed to spell out that all sealed containers should be searched during such an inventory.
"The Fourth Amendment is violated if closed containers are opened during a vehicle inventory search in the absence of a standardized, specific procedure mandating their opening," said Judge Gregory Orme.
"No such departmental procedure existed," Orme said. "Accordingly, the contraband was obtained in violation of defendant's Fourth Amendment rights."