County Criminal Court: CRIMINAL LAW Ė Search and Seizure Ė Stop

Defendantís driving pattern sufficient to justify a stop where defendant weaved within his lane on three occasions, each time making sharp, jerky adjustments. Judgment and sentence affirmed. Moffat v. State, No. CRC 06-33 APANO, (Fla. 6th Cir. App. Ct. July 5, 2007).

 

 

 

NOT FINAL UNTIL TIME EXPIRES FOR REHEARING

AND, IF FILED, DETERMINED

 

IN THE CIRCUIT COURT OF THE SIXTH JUDICIAL CIRCUIT

OF THE STATE OF FLORIDA IN AND FOR PINELLAS COUNTY

 

 

DAVID MOFFAT

 

††††††††††† Appellant,

 

v.                                                                                                                                          Appeal No. CRC 06-33 APANO

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† †††††† UCN522006AP00033XXXXCR

STATE OF FLORIDA

 

††††††††††† Appellee.

______________________________/

 

 

Opinion filed ____________________.

 

Appeal from a sentence entered by

the Pinellas County Court

County Judge William H. Overton

 

Jason Thomas, Esquire

Assistant State Attorney

 

Marc Pelletier, Esquire

Attorney for appellee

 

ORDER AND OPINION

 

††††††††††† (J. Demers)

 

††††††††††† The defendant is appealing the decision of the Pinellas County Court to deny his motion to suppress. He pleaded no contest to DUI charges, reserving his right to appeal the denial of his motion to suppress. After reviewing the briefs and record, this Court affirms the decision of the trial court.

††††††††††† At approximately 1:00 in the morning, a deputy observed the defendantís truck weaving within its lane on three occasions. Each time the defendant made sharp, jerky corrections. The deputy followed the defendant for eight blocks. Based upon the deputyís experience (4 years in the DUI unit), he believed the pattern of driving indicated the defendant might be DUI, so he conducted a traffic stop. The defendant was ultimately arrested for DUI. He made a motion to suppress, but the trial court denied it. It is that decision that is the subject of this appeal.

††††††††††† ď[A] trial courtís 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 courtís ruling.Ē Pagan v. State, 830 So.2d 792 (Fla. 2002).Whether or not the application of the law to the facts establishes an adequate basis for probable cause, however, is subject to a de novo standard of review. See Nicholas v. State, 857 So.2d 980 (Fla. 4th DCA 2003).

The defendantís pattern of driving was sufficiently unusual to justify a stop. See Bailey v. State, 319 So.2d 22 (Fla. 1975)(because of the dangers inherent to our modern vehicular mode of life, the police may be justified in stopping a vehicle to determine the reason for its unusual operation); Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles v. DeShong, 603 So.2d 1349 (Fla. 2d DCA 1992)(a legitimate concern for the safety of the motoring public can warrant a brief investigatory stop to determine if the driver is ill, tired, or driving under the influence in situations less suspicious than that required for other types of criminal behavior); State v. Davidson, 744 So.2d 1180 (Fla. 2d DCA 1999)(police observation of defendant driving significantly below speed limit and drifting in and out of lane warranted stop); Ndow v. State, 864 So.2d 1248 (Fla. 5th DCA 2004)(if police observe motor vehicle being operated in unusual manner, there might be justification for stop even when no traffic infraction seen or citation given).

††††††††††† Moreover, the officer testified that based upon his experience and training the defendantís driving pattern (three instances of weaving within eight blocks, same corrective jerking movement each time) was consistent with someone who was impaired. This is sufficient justification for a stop. See Roberts v. State, 732 So.2d 1127 (Fla. 4th DCA 1999); State v. Bean, No. CRC 04-22 APANO (Fla. 6th Cir. App.Ct. March 4, 2005).††††††††

††††††††††† IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED that the decision of the trial court to deny the defendantís motion to suppress is affirmed.

††††††††††† DONE AND ORDERED in St.Petersburg, Pinellas County, this _____ day of July, 2007.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† ___________________________

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† David A. Demers

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Circuit Court Judge

 

 

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† ____________________________

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Raymond O. Gross

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Circuit Court Judge

 

 

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† _____________________________

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Robert J. Morris, Jr.

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Circuit Court Judge

cc:††††††† Office of the State Attorney

 

††††††††††† Honorable William H. Overton

 

††††††††††† ††††††† ††††Marc Pelletier, Esq.

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† †††††