IA Cop's Pacing Vehicle Gave Probable Cause for Speeding Stop

Iowa case law summary by Attorney Richard Clem: probable cause, speeding.

State of Iowa v. Micahel Lee Querry. IA probable cause, speeding

Micahel Lee Querry was driving in Newton, Iowa, during the early morning hours of April 4, 2011. A police officer took notice when he made a right turn and then accelerated. The police officer followed, and Mr. Querry turned onto East Eleventh Street. The officer, a block behind, turned at the same time onto East Eleventh street and paced the other car on the parallel street a block away.

The officer testified that he could see Querry's vehicle intermittently between houses and through an intersection. The officer kept a constant speed of 33 MPH as he kept pace. The police car and Querry's car reached the final intersection at the same time. Querry then turned, and the officer followed and pulled over the car for speeding, since the speed limit was 25 MPH on the street where the driver had been paced at 33 MPH. The officer issued a warning, and asked for consent to search the car. During the search, the officer found a ripped plastic bag and loose marijuana, which Querry admitted was his.

Querry was charged with possession of marijuana in Jasper County District Court. The trial court, Judge Thomas W. Mott, held that the officer had probable cause to make the stop for speeding. Querry was convicted and sentenced to 30 days in jail, all but five of which were suspended. Believing that the officer lacked probable cause to make the stop, Querry appealed to the Iowa Court of Appeals.

The Court of Appeals affirmed the conviction. The appeals court first cited an earlier decision of the Iowa Supreme Court, State v. Hicks, 791 N.W.2d 89, 93 (Iowa 2010). That case held that pacing a vehicle was a reliable method of determining that a driver was speeding.

Even though the officer did not have the defendant's vehicle in sight the full time, the appellate court noted that the two cars arrived at the intersection at the same time. While the court noted that the pacing method might not have been ideal, it was enough to provide a rational inference that Querry was violating the speed limit. Since the stop was permissible, the trial court was correct in not suppressing the evidence.

No. 11-11613 (Iowa Ct. App. Mar. 26, 2014).

Please see the original opinion for the court's exact language.


Richard P. Clem is an attorney and continuing legal education (CLE) provider in Minnesota. He has been in private practice in the Twin Cities for 25 years. He has a J.D., cum laude, from Hamline University School of Law in St. Paul and a B.A. in History from the University of Minnesota. His reported cases include: Asociacion Nacional de Pescadores a Pequena Escala o Artesanales de Colombia v. Dow Quimica de Colombia, 988 F.2d 559, rehearing denied, 5 F.3d 530 (5th Cir. 1993), cert. denied, 510 U.S. 1041 (1994); LaMott v. Apple Valley Health Care Center, 465 N.W.2d 585 (Minn. Ct. App. 1991); Abo el Ela v. State, 468 N.W.2d 580 (Minn. Ct. App. 1991).

For more information about attorney Clem, please visit his website.
For more information about his low-cost CLE programs, please visit his CLE page.
Return to index of case summaries

Copyright 2014, Richard P. Clem.
Attorney Richard P. Clem is responsible for the content of this page.

Richard P. Clem, Attorney
PO Box 14957
Minneapolis, MN 55414
Phone: +1-612-378-7751
e-mail: clem.law@usa.net
Minnesota Attorney Registration Number 0192648

Books by Richard Clem:

Please visit my author page at amazon.com

Copyright and privacy notice.