Appeal from the District Court of the Fourth Judicial District, State of Idaho, Ada County. Hon. Michael E. Wetherell, District Judge.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Gratton, Chief Judge
Order denying motion to suppress, affirmed.
Amber Dawn Stewart appeals from the district court's memorandum decision and order denying Stewart's motion to suppress.
FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
Stewart was stopped while driving in Garden City for failure to signal. She was not insured, and a records check revealed that she was driving on a suspended license due to her failure to maintain insurance. The officer placed Stewart under custodial arrest and then, through dispatch, requested a tow truck to impound Stewart's vehicle. Before the tow truck arrived, the officer performed an inventory search of the vehicle. The officer discovered a small metal tin in the driver's door pocket that contained marijuana and methamphetamine. Stewart admitted the drugs belonged to her, but denied using the methamphetamine, claiming instead to be selling it.
Stewart was charged with felony possession of a controlled substance with the intent to deliver (methamphetamine), and two misdemeanors, driving without privileges and possession of a controlled substance (marijuana). Stewart filed a motion to suppress, claiming the officer's impoundment and inventory search violated Fourth Amendment rights. The district court denied Stewart's motion to suppress. Stewart entered conditional guilty pleas to the methamphetamine and driving without privileges charges, reserving the right to appeal the denial of her motion to suppress, and the State dismissed the marijuana charge. Stewart appeals.
The standard of review of a suppression motion is bifurcated. When a decision on a motion to suppress is challenged, we accept the trial court's findings of fact that are supported by substantial evidence, but we freely review the application of constitutional principles to the facts as found. State v. Atkinson, 128 Idaho 559, 561, 916 P.2d 1284, 1286 (Ct. App. 1996). At a suppression hearing, the power to assess the credibility of witnesses, resolve factual conflicts, weigh evidence, and draw factual inferences is vested in the trial court. State v. Valdez-Molina, 127 Idaho 102, 106, 897 P.2d 993, 997 (1995); State v. Schevers, 132 Idaho 786, 789, 979 P.2d 659, 662 (Ct. App. 1999).
The Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures. Warrantless searches are presumed to be unreasonable and therefore violative of the Fourth Amendment. State v. Weaver, 127 Idaho 288, 290, 900 P.2d 196, 198 (1995). The State may overcome this presumption by demonstrating that a warrantless search either fell within a well-recognized exception to the warrant requirement or was otherwise reasonable under the circumstances. Id. Ultimately, the standard set forth in the Fourth Amendment is reasonableness. Cady v. Dombrowski, 413 U.S. 433, 439 (1973).
Inventory searches are a well-recognized exception to the warrant requirement of the Fourth Amendment. Colorado v. Bertine, 479 U.S. 367, 371 (1987); Illinois v. Lafayette, 462 U.S. 640, 643 (1983); State v. Owen, 143 Idaho 274, 277, 141 P.3d 1143, 1146 (Ct. App. 2006). The legitimate purposes of inventory searches are: (1) protect the owner's property while it remains in police custody; (2) protect the State against false claims of lost or stolen property; and (3) protect police from potential danger. South Dakota v. Opperman, 428 U.S. 364, 369-70 (1976). However, an inventory search must not be a ruse for general rummaging in order to locate incriminating evidence. Florida v. Wells, 495 U.S. 1, 3 (1990). "Inventory searches, when conducted in compliance with standard and ...