Appeals Court Upholds OWI-Drugged Conviction

Des Moines, Iowa — The Iowa Court of Appeals has upheld a Nebraska man’s conviction for felony OWI. The arrest happened in Sioux County in 2013.
According to court records, 57-year-old Scott Sappingfield, of Newcastle, Nebraska, who was 54 at the time of the alleged offense, on July 30th, 2013, was charged with Operating While Intoxicated, Third Offense. He was found guilty, but appealed his conviction.

On the day in question, court records indicate that authorities were notified of a suspicious vehicle parked at the end of a dead-end road near Chatsworth. Sappingfield allegedly told authorities he had just gotten off a night shift at work in Dakota City, Nebraska and was headed home to Newcastle, Nebraska and needed to take a nap. When he was told he was near Hawarden, Iowa, he said he was supposed to go fishing with his son nearby and then visit his daughter in Larchwood. In addition, authorities say Sappingfield seemed impaired. Several tests were done on-the-scene and Sappingfield was taken to the Sioux County Jail in Orange City where a drug recognition expert also performed several tests. All tests indicated Sappingfield was indeed impaired by a drug.  He refused a urine test.

In court, almost a year after the incident, Sappingfield was found guilty and the district court sentenced him to an indeterminate term not to exceed five years with all but thirty days suspended as well as probation and other penalties. Sappingfield appealed.

The Court of Appeals ruled that there was enough evidence for a conviction; and his counsel was not ineffective, so the conviction stands.

The court did say that perhaps Sappingfield did not know that admitting to prior OWI convictions could affect the penalty of this case, and perhaps he wasn’t aware of his right to a jury trial on his previous convictions. They left that issue open to post-conviction relief proceedings.

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