NOT FINAL UNTIL TIME EXPIRES FOR REHEARING
AND, IF FILED, DETERMINED
IN THE CIRCUIT COURT OF THE SIXTH JUDICIAL
CIRCUIT COURT OF THE SIXTH JUDICIAL CIRCUIT
v. Appeal No. CRC 05-62 APANO
DAVID SIDNEY JOHNSON, JR.
Opinion filed _______________________.
Appeal from a decision of the
County Judge William Overton
John Mulvihill, Esq.
Assistant State Attorney
Steven Halim, Esq.
Attorney for appellee
ORDER AND OPINION
THIS MATTER is before the Court on the State’s appeal from a decision of the Pinellas County Court granting the defendant’s motion to suppress. After reviewing the briefs and record, this Court affirms the decision of the trial court.
The testimony reveals that at 2:15 A.M. the police observed the defendant, driving a black corvette with chrome rims, make a left-hand U-turn. Instead of being made from the designated left-turn lane, the turn was made from the center lane. The defendant turned through the left lane and the left turning lane. The turn was made at about 15 to 20 miles per hour. Once the turn was completed, the defendant then rapidly accelerated and “broke traction with its rear tires briefly.” No other traffic was in the area. The police made a traffic stop, cited the defendant for failure to use the designated lane, and ultimately arrested him for DUI. The defendant filed a motion to suppress, and the trial court granted the motion.
State asserts that the trial court erred in granting the defendant’s motion to
suppress. It argues the stop was justified because the testimony showed that
the defendant committed a traffic offense, or that it showed his driving was
sufficiently erratic to justify a traffic stop. “[A] trial court’s ruling on a
motion to suppress comes to the appellate court clothed with a presumption of
correctness, and the reviewing court must interpret the evidence and reasonable
inferences and deductions derived therefrom in a manner most favorable to
sustaining the trial court’s ruling.” Pagan v. State, 830 So.2d 792 (
The State claims
the defendant violated §316.089(3),
As for the State’s second argument, this Court rules that the driving was not erratic. As the trial court found, it was only a one-time failure to initially use the designated lane. Other than the belated U-turn, there was no improper driving observed.
The rapid acceleration after the U-turn does not seem to have been a factor in the officer’s decision to stop the defendant. There was no testimony that the defendant was speeding or that he made an improper U-turn. In addition, there was no testimony that the defendant might have been impaired, or ill, or tired, or that the motor vehicle may have had mechanical problems. This was a one-time event and therefore insufficient to establish an improper driving pattern. In Nicholas, previously cited, the appellate court ruled that the defendant’s turn from the wrong lane did not amount to erratic driving that would give rise to the probable cause required to justify a stop. Accordingly, the police were not justified in stopping the defendant because his driving was not erratic.
IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED that the decision of the trial court is affirmed.
AND ORDERED in Chambers at
J. Thomas McGrady
R. Timothy Peters
John A. Schaefer
cc: State Attorney
Steven Halim, Esq.