IN THE CIRCUIT COURT OF THE SIXTH JUDICIAL CIRCUIT

 OF THE STATE OF FLORIDA IN AND FOR PINELLAS COUNTY

APPELLATE DIVISION

 

RODGER WILLIAM CUMBEE,

            Appellant,

 

vs.                                                                   Appeal No. CRC 00-19790 CFANO

 

STATE OF FLORIDA,

            Appellee.

_________________________________/

 

Opinion filed July 6, 2001.

 

Appeal from Order on Motion to Suppress

Pinellas County Court

County Judge William H. Overton

 

Douglas Barnard, Esq.

Attorney for Appellant

 

Jason Stedman

Assistant State Attorney

Attorney for Appellee

 

ORDER AND OPINION

 

            THIS MATTER is before the Court on the defendant’s appeal from the trial court’s order denying defendant’s motion to suppress.  After reviewing the briefs and record, this court affirms the trial court’s decision.

“Appellate review of a motion to suppress involves questions of both law and fact and an appellate court must make a de novo review of the trial court's application of the law to the facts.”  Rosenquist v. State, 2000 WL 966039 (Fla. 2d DCA 2000).  Furthermore, “a ruling on a motion to suppress is presumptively correct, and a reviewing court should interpret the evidence and reasonable inferences and deductions drawn from the evidence in a manner most favorable to sustaining the trial court ruling.”  Johnston v. State, 438 So.2d 774 (Fla. 1983); McNamara v. State, 357 So.2d 410 (Fla. 1978). 

On September 11, 1999, Deputy Robert Haimes of the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office was on routine patrol in Pinellas County near 54th Avenue and Haines Road when he observed the defendant driving his van with an equipment violation.  After the initial stop, the defendant was cited with improper equipment in violation of Sec. 316.610 Fla. Stat. (1999), and with DUI in violation of Sec. 316.193 Fla. Stat. (1999).

Defendant filed a motion to suppress all evidence obtained after the stop because the police officer did not have reasonable suspicion necessary to justify the stop.  The defendant argued that the stop for driving a vehicle in an unsafe condition was unjustified because although the right rear tail light lens cover was cracked, it had been repaired with an approved red lens tape and was visible for the distance required under the statute.  Defendant further argued that both tail lamps and the stop lamps were working properly.

At the suppression hearing, the deputy testified that “the right brake light appeared…to be not working.”  During the State’s examination of the deputy videotape was received into evidence and played.  After listening to testimony and viewing the videotape the trial judge found that the stop lamps were inoperable and not in compliance with Sec. 316.222 and 316.234 Florida Statutes (1999), and were, therefore, in violation of Sec. 316.610(1) Fla. Stat. (1999).

 “As a general matter, the decision to stop an automobile is reasonable where the police have probable cause to believe that a traffic violation has occurred.” Whren v. United States, 517 U.S. 806, 116 S.Ct. 1769, 135 L.Ed.2d 89 (1996).  Furthermore, the court in State v. Snead, 707 So.2d 769 (Fla. 2d DCA 1998) held that an officer had probable cause to make a traffic stop where he observed that the taillight and brake light on the driver’s side were inoperable, and no further inquiry into the officer’s motivation for the stop was relevant.

Here, Deputy Haimes testified that he stopped the defendant’s vehicle because he observed that the defendant’s brake light was not operating properly.  The deputy then cited the defendant under Sec. 316.610(1) for driving a vehicle in an unsafe condition.  Our review of facts in the record including the videotape support the trial court’s ruling that the deputy had probable cause to make the stop.  There is no evidence to support the defendant’s assertion that the trial court’s findings are clearly erroneous.  It is therefore

ORDERED AND ADJUDGED that the trial court’s order denying the motion to suppress is affirmed.

            DONE AND ORDERED in Chambers at St. Petersburg, Pinellas County, Florida this 6th day of July, 2001.

                                                                               

__________________________

W. DOUGLAS BAIRD

Circuit Judge
Primary Appellate Judge


___________________________

NANCY MOATE LEY

Circuit Judge



___________________________

R. TIMOTHY PETERS

Circuit Judge

                                                                    

                                                           

 

Copies furnished to:

 

David A. Neville, Esq.

Attorney for Appellant

248 First Avenue North

St. Petersburg, Florida 33701

 

Jason Stedman, Esq.

Assistant State Attorney

Attorney for Appellee