NOT FINAL UNTIL TIME EXPIRES FOR REHEARING
AND, IF FILED, DETERMINED
IN THE CIRCUIT COURT OF THE SIXTH JUDICIAL CIRCUIT
OF THE STATE OF
JASON ALAN PICKENPAUGH
Appeal No. CRC 07-00028APANO
Opinion filed _____________________
Appeal from an Order Denying
Motion to Suppress
entered by the Pinellas County Court
County Judge Edwin B. Jagger
County Judge James Pierce
Ricardo Rivera, Esquire
Attorney for Appellant
C. Marie King, Esquire
Attorney for Appellee
ORDER AND OPINION
MATTER is before the Court on Appellant, Jason Alan Pickenpaugh’s appeal from a
decision of the
Factual Background and Trial Court Proceedings
At approximately 2:30 a.m. on August 22, 2006, Deputy Richard Farnham of the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office observed a vehicle operated by Defendant, Jason Alan Pickenpaugh, exceeding the posted speed limit while proceeding south on Park Street in St. Petersburg. The posted speed limit was 45 miles per hour and the Defendant was driving between 55 and 60 miles per hour. The deputy proceeded to follow the vehicle. The deputy checked the license plate number of the vehicle through his computer and received information that the registered owner had a “business purposes only” restriction on his driver’s license. The deputy initiated a traffic stop and made contact with the Defendant. The Defendant filed a motion to suppress which was denied after hearing. The trial court’s ruling was based on findings that the deputy observed the Defendant speeding, determined the Defendant’s driving license was restricted to “business purposes only”, believed based on experience that most drivers own the vehicle they are driving, and based on experience at 2:30 a.m. drivers are not coming from a school, a church, a hospital or a job. The Defendant reserved the right to appeal the denial of the motion to suppress.
Standard of Review
Our review of a trial
court’s ruling on a motion to suppress evidence involves a mixed question of
law and fact. We accord a presumption of
correctness with regard to the trial court’s determination of facts where the
trial court’s factual findings are supported by competent, substantial
evidence. However, we review the trial
court’s application of the law to those facts de novo. Ornelas v.
1. Generally. It
is well established that the prohibition against unreasonable searches and
seizures contained in the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution
applies to investigatory stops of automobiles.
To justify an
investigatory stop, the officer must have a reasonable suspicion that the
person detained committed, is committing, or is about to commit a crime. § 901.151(2)
order for a traffic stop to be proper, the police must have a reasonable
suspicion of criminal activity, or probable cause to believe a traffic
infraction has been committed. Jones
v. State, 842 So2d 889 (
2. The Present Case. In the present case, the trial court’s factual findings are supported by competent, substantial evidence. The deputy first observed the Defendant speeding. This alone provided a lawful basis for the traffic stop.
The deputy also determined prior to the
stop that Defendant had a “business purposes only” restriction on his driver’s
license. The circumstances of this case
reasonably suggested a violation of that restriction. An officer’s investigatory detention of a
vehicle’s driver is supported by a well founded suspicion of unlawful activity
when the officer first determines that the vehicle’s registered owner does not
possess a valid driver’s license. In
such an instance, the officer’s conduct is not dictated by personal whim or
capriciousness. The detention is neither
arbitrary nor directed to any particular individual demonstrating an intention
to harass that person. Smith v.
State, 574 So2d 300 (5th DCA
the deputy was presented with circumstances that supported a well founded suspicion that Defendant was driving in violation of his driver’s license restriction. Green v. State, 743 So2d 1233 (Fla. 5th DCA 1999). The traffic stop of the Defendant was lawful.
The order of the trial court denying Appellant’s Motion to Suppress should be affirmed.
IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED that the order of the trial court denying Appellant’s Motion to Suppress is affirmed.
Michael F. Andrews
Circuit Court Judge
Raymond O. Gross
Circuit Court Judge
R. Timothy Peters
Circuit Court Judge
cc: Honorable Edwin B. Jagger
Honorable James Pierce
Office of the Public Defender
Office of the State Attorney