County Criminal Court: CRIMINAL LAW – Search and Seizure – Stop – Review of the videotape reveals that the defendant only made one wide turn, not affecting traffic, and quickly corrected it. This was insufficient to justify stop. Judgment and sentence reversed. Hampton v. State, No. CRC 04-42 APANO, (Fla. 6th Cir.App.Ct. Sept. 30. 2005).

 

IN THE CIRCUIT COURT OF THE SIXTH JUDICIAL CIRCUIT

OF THE STATE OF FLORIDA IN AND FOR PINELLAS COUNTY

 

 

DEBORAH HAMPTON

 

            Appellant,

 

v.                                                                                                                                           Appeal No. CRC 04-42 APANO

     UCN522004AP000043XXXXCR

STATE OF FLORIDA

 

            Appellee.

______________________________/

 

 

Opinion filed __________________.

 

Appeal from a judgment and sentence

entered by the Pinellas County Court

County Judge Paul Levine, Esq.

 

Curtis Crider, Esq.

Attorney for appellant

 

C. Marie King, Esq.

Assistant State Attorney

 

ORDER AND OPINION

 

            (J. Sullivan)      

 

THIS MATTER is before the Court on the defendant, Deborah Hampton’s, appeal from a judgment and sentence entered by the Pinellas County Court. The defendant entered a no contest plea to DUI charges, reserving her right to appeal the trial court’s denial of her motion to suppress. After reviewing the briefs and record, this Court reverses the judgment and sentence.

 A trial court’s determination of reasonable suspicion to conduct an investigatory stop or detention is subject to de novo review. Ornelas v. United States, 517 U.S. 690 (1996); DeLeon v. State, 700 So.2d 718 (Fla. 2d DCA 1997). “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, 769 So.2d 1051 (Fla. 2d DCA 2000). “A reviewing court must accept the trial court’s findings of fact in an order on a motion to suppress, so long as those findings are supported by the record. However, a suppression order that turns on an issue of law is reviewed by a de novo standard of review.” Underwood v. State, 801 So.2d 200 (Fla. 5th DCA 2001).

            The defendant claims that the police should not have stopped her because there was insufficient evidence of bad driving. After reviewing the videotape of the driving that preceded the stop, this Court agrees.

A review of the videotape does not support the deputy’s testimony that the defendant’s driving was erratic or consistent with someone who was DUI. The trial court was not persuaded by some of the deputy’s testimony either, finding there was no weaving. The trial court was, however, persuaded that the defendant made one wide turn and “kind of overreacted a little bit and snapped the wheel back”; and that this conduct was sufficient to justify a stop.

 The videotape does not, however, support the trial court’s apparent finding that the defendant’s correcting action coming out of the wide turn was sudden or erratic. The videotape only showed the defendant taking a somewhat wide turn, not affecting traffic, and quickly (but not abruptly) correcting herself. There was no sudden, violent correcting motion that might have been sufficient to justify the stop. The improper driving alleged by the State amounted to one slightly wide turn that was smoothly corrected. This was insufficient to justify the stop. Therefore, the defendant’s motion to suppress should have been granted.

            IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED that the judgment and sentence are reversed, and this case is remanded to the trial court for action consistent with this Order and Opinion.

            DONE AND ORDERED in Chambers at Clearwater, Pinellas County, Florida this ____ day of September, 2005.

 

                                                                                    ________________________

                                                                                                David A. Demers

                                                                                                    Circuit Judge

 

 

 

                                                                                    ________________________

                                                                                                Robert J. Morris, Jr.

                                                                                                     Circuit Judge

 

 

 

                                                                                    ________________________

                                                                                                Irene S. Sullivan

                                                                                                    Circuit Judge

 

 

cc:   State Attorney

 

        Curtis Crider, Esq.

                       

        Judge Levine