County Criminal Court: CRIMINAL LAW Ė Search and Seizure Ė Stop Ė Identifiable restaurant employee calling police to inform them that defendant had been drinking heavily, appeared intoxicated, and was heading towards a specific car, provided reasonable suspicion for police to make investigatory stop of defendantís car when police observed defendant in actual physical control of the specific car in the restaurant parking lot. Breeden v. State, No. CRC 03-91 APANO (Fla. 6th Cir.App.Ct. August 3, 2004).

 

 

 

 

 

IN THE CIRCUIT COURT OF THE SIXTH JUDICIAL CIRCUIT

OF THE STATE OF FLORIDA IN AND FOR PINELLAS COUNTY

 

 

LINDA BREEDEN

 

††††††††††† Appellant,

v.

Appeal No. CRC 03-91 APANO

UCN522003AP000091XXXXCR

STATE OF FLORIDA

 

††††††††††† Appellee.

___________________________/

 

 

Opinion filed __________________.

 

Appeal from a judgment and sentence

entered by the Pinellas County Court

County Judge Dorothy Vacarro

 

J. Kevin Hayslett, Esq.

Attorney for appellant

 

Broderick Taylor, Esq.

Assistant State Attorney

 

ORDER AND OPINION

 

††††††††††† THIS MATTER is before the Court on the defendantís appeal from a judgment and sentence entered by the Pinellas County Court. The defendant pleaded no contest to DUI charges, reserving his right to appeal the trial courtís denial of his motion to suppress. After reviewing the briefs and record, this Court affirms the judgment and sentence.

††††††††††† The defendant claims that his motion to suppress should have been granted because the stop of his vehicle was improper. The standard of review is de novo. See State v. Baldwin, 686 So.2d 682 (Fla. 1st DCA 1996).

††††††††††† The police received a call from an employee1 of a restaurant concerning two patrons and disorderly intoxication. The employee told the police that the two had consumed a lot of alcohol, appeared intoxicated, and were leaving the restaurant. The employee followed the two patrons out of the restaurant and reported that they were heading towards a white Chevy. The employee was concerned that they were going to immediately drive away in that condition. When the police officer arrived at the scene, he noticed the car that matched the description parked next to the restaurant. The defendant was in the driverís seat with the engine running and the headlights on. At that point the officer positioned his car behind the defendantís vehicle, effectuated a stop, and made contact with the defendant. The defendant was ultimately arrested for DUI.

††††††††††† The defendant appears to be arguing that the stop was improper because the police failed to obtain corroborating information that the defendant had committed, was committing, or was about to commit a crime. The defendantís argument, however, is misplaced. If the employee giving the information were an anonymous tipster, then the defendantís argument would have some merit. In the case at bar though, the employee was not anonymous. The employee was identifiable. That is, the police could easily ascertain the identity of the tipster. The employee had given the specific address where the incident occurred and the place of employment. The employee giving the information therefore is considered a citizen informant. As a citizen informant the information conveyed is considered reliable without the need for further corroboration. See State v. Evans, 692 So.2d 216 (Fla. 4th DCA 1997). Since the officer could rely on the information that the defendant had consumed a lot of alcohol and appeared intoxicated, when the officer arrived at the scene and observed the defendant in actual physical control of a motor vehicle, the officer had a reasonable suspicion to believe that the defendant might be DUI, thus justifying the stop. Therefore, the motion to suppress was properly denied.

††††††††††† IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED that the judgment and sentence are affirmed.

††††††††††† DONE AND ORDERED in Chambers at Clearwater, Pinellas County, Florida this ____ day of July, 2004.

 

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† ________________________

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† James R. Case

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Circuit Judge

 

 

 

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† _________________________
††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Nancy Moate Ley

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Circuit Judge

 

 

 

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† _________________________

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† John A. Schaefer

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Circuit Judge

 

 

cc:††† State Attorney

 

†††††††† J. Kevin Hayslett, Esq.

 

††††††† Judge Vaccaro

 

 

 



1 The Court notes that the trial courtís order found that the manager of the restaurant had called in the tip. A review of the transcript, however, reveals that the officer identified the tipster only as an employee of the restaurant. The discrepancy is not significant because the tipster was still identifiable to the police.