Stone v. State, 685 S.W.2d 791 (Tex.App.—Fort Worth 1985), aff'd 703 S.W.2d 652 (Tex.Crim.App. 1986).
Need only be reasonable suspicion to justify stop. (Definition of that standard included in this opinion).
A. OFFICER’S MISTAKE OF FACT WILL NOT MAKE STOP ILLEGAL
State v. Varley, No. 02-15-00076-CR, 2016 WL 4540491 (Tex. App. – Fort Worth 2016)
Officer’s mistaken belief that Defendant violated statute by driving with only one functioning brake light was reasonable. Because the mistake of law was “reasonable” it provided sufficient reasonable suspicion to justify the traffic stop.
State v. Torrez, No. 02-15-00170-CR, 2016 WL 2772177 (Tex.App.-Fort Worth 2016)
A stop based on an officer’s observation of a non-functioning headlight resulted in a DWI. Before leaving the scene, the officer tested the headlights and found that, at that time, both worked. At the MTS hearing, only the officer’s testimony supported finding that the headlamp did not function as the vehicle approached. Pointed straight ahead, the in-car camera did not video the vehicle as it headed toward the patrol car. The trial judge found the officer credible, but granted the MTS after concluding the officer made a mistake. Reversing this ruling on state’s appeal, the court held that reasonable suspicion may be validly based on articulated facts later found to be inaccurate; in other words, a stop may be based on a reasonable mistake of fact. Also, the trial court mistakenly relied on the repeatedly-viewed video which did not factually negate the officer’s initial belief.
B. TICKETS THAT PROVIDED BASIS FOR STOP INADMISSIBLE
Nevarez v. State, 671 S.W.2d 90 (Tex.App.—El Paso 1984, no pet.).
Error to allow State to elicit testimony that traffic tickets were issued in connection with DWI stop.
C. INFORMATION FROM CITIZEN/POLICERADIO/ANONYMOUS CALL
1. SUFFICIENT BASIS FOR STOP
Sowell v. State, No. 03-12-00288-CR, 2013 WL 3929102 (Tex.App.—Austin 2013, pet. ref'd).
This involved an unidentified citizen caller who told the officer that he was being chased by a red Chevrolet pickup truck with a Texas license plate starting with the characters "74W", and that there were multiple occupants in the truck who were throwing objects from the truck at his car. Finally, the informant provided the intersection where the disturbance was occurring and stated that the truck was fleeing the scene heading northbound on Lamar Boulevard. The Trial Court could have reasonably found that this detailed account of the informant's first-hand observations made the informant's statements sufficiently reliable. In addition, although it appears that the officer did not know the name of the informant at the time he acted on the tip, the informant put himself in a position to be identified by calling 911 from a cell phone and remaining on the phone for an extended period of time while relaying information to law enforcement. By putting himself in a position to be identified by law enforcement, the informant made it more likely that he could be held accountable if the information he provided to law enforcement was false and the officer was able to corroborate some of the information given by the unidentified caller. For all of the above reasons, the stop was upheld.
LeCourias v. State, 341 S.W.3d 483 (Tex.App.—Houston [14 Dist] 2011).
Arresting officer had reasonable suspicion of criminal activity to conduct an investigative detention of defendant for DWI, even if officer did not witness defendant operating a motor vehicle at any point before the arrest. In this case a witness had observed defendant's vehicle maneuver erratically on a public roadway, identified himself to emergency dispatcher, followed defendant to the location where police made the arrest, and remained in contact with the dispatcher until the officer arrived at the scene. This coupled with the officer detecting the odor of alcohol both inside a cup the witness saw the defendant carry, and on or about defendant's person and breath justified the detention and arrest of the defendant.
Villarreal v. State, 2008 WL 4367616 (Tex.App.—Houston [1st Dist] 2008).
Officer received call from dispatch that citizen was following a possible drunk driver and had observed the defendant’s vehicle pull into a parking lot where she was approached and investigated by the officer. The officer had dispatcher call the citizen informant and have him meet the officer at the parking lot where he repeated the details of the bad driving he had observed. In upholding the stop, the Court focused on the fact that the observations reported by the informant of the defendant’s driving behavior constituted criminal activity, specifically, DWI. Since the informant chose to follow defendant’s vehicle after reporting the conduct, he was not “truly an anonymous informer.” In addition the officer corroborated Garcia’s identification details when he located defendant’s car in the parking lot.
Hawes v. State, 125 S.W.3d 535 (Tex.App.—Houston [1st Dist.], 2002, no pet.).
Police received call from tow truck driver reporting reckless driving and that he was following the vehicle. Officer arrived and pulled defendant over based on information received and without seeing any traffic violations. The truck driver on seeing defendant pulled over continued without stopping. In holding the stop was valid, the Court found that by presenting his information to the police via his business’s dispatcher and following the suspect in his own readily traceable vehicle, the truck driver placed himself in a position where he could be held accountable for his intervention. These indicia of reliability, when combined with the officer’s corroboration of the identification details, provided sufficient reasonable suspicion to justify the investigative stop.
State v. Fudge, 42 S.W.3d 226 (Tex.App.—Austin, 2001, no pet.).
Officer’s sole basis for the stop was the details of bad driving provided to him by a cab driver in a face to face encounter. Court held that that was a sufficient basis for the stop of the defendant. Court referred and distinguished these facts from Florida v. J.L., 529 U.S. 266, 120 S.Ct.1375, 146 L.Ed.2d 254 (2000).
State v. Nelson, 228 S.W.3d 899 (Tex.App.—Austin 2007, no pet.).
Winborn v. State, No. 03-05-00716-CR. 2007 WL 1711791 (Tex.App.—Austin 2007, pdr ref’d).
Brother v. State, 166 S.W.3d 255 (Tex.Crim.App. 2005), cert. denied, 546 U.S. 1150 (2006).
Pipkin v. State, 114 S.W.3d 649 (Tex.App.—Fort Worth 2003, no pet.)
State v. Stolte, 991 S.W.2d 336 (Tex.App.—Fort Worth 1999, no pet.).
State v. Sailo, 910 S.W.2d 184 (Tex.App.—Fort Worth 1995, pet. ref’d).
State v. Adkins, 829 S.W.2d 900 (Tex.App.—Fort Worth 1992, pet. ref’d).
Ferguson v. State, 573 S.W.2d 516 (Tex.Crim.App. 1978).
Albert v. State, 659 S.W.2d 41 (Tex.App.—Houston [14th Dist] 1983, pet. ref’d).
Information from a concerned citizen may provide sufficient basis for officer to make investigative stop.
2. IDENTIFIED CITIZEN--CREDIBLE AND RELIABLE
Gabrish v. State, 2009 WL 2605899 (Tex.App.-Corpus Christi 2009) (Not designated for publication).
Civilians observed an apparently drunk defendant get in his car after urinating outside and drive away. One of them called 911 and they all pointed out the car to the officer who stopped the defendant based on their description of multiple indicators of intoxication. In upholding the stop, the Court focused on the fact that the civilian informants placed themselves in a position where they could have been easily identified and held responsible and that the information they provided to the officer was sufficiently reliable to support the temporary detention.
Hime v. State, 998 S.W. 2d 893 (Tex.App.—Houston, [14th Dist.] 1999, pet. ref’d).
Citizen stopped at Burger King to call police after observing suspect swerving towards other cars as it passed. Citizen gave her name and noted that suspect had stopped at BK, too. Officer arrived a minute later just as suspect was leaving BK and stopped suspect. Court held sufficient basis for stop noting that an (identified) citizen who calls in to report criminal acts is inherently credible and reliable.
See also, Vanderhorst v. State, 52 S.W.3d 237 (Tex.App.—Eastland 2001).
Mitchell v. State, 187 S.W.3d 113 (Tex.App. —Waco 2006, pet. ref’d).
Pospisil v. State, 2008 WL 4443092 (Tex.App.—Texarkana 2008).
Off-duty firefighter called 911 to report a reckless driver he was following. Based on the details of that call, officer quickly located and stopped the defendant’s vehicle. In finding the stop proper, the Court focused on three factors. First, it noted that the firefighter’s report was not “anonymous” as he gave his name and occupation thereby making himself accountable for the information he reported. Further, the caller was a “professional firefighter,” making him one of the types of people (along with teachers and police officers) that we teach our children are generally trustworthy and reliable. Finally, the officer responded in a short period of time allowing him to corroborate the vehicle description.
3. DETAILS OF POLICE BROADCAST ARE ADMISSIBLE
McDuff v. State, 2011 WL 1849540 (Tex.App.—El Paso 2011).
Officer testified that he stopped the vehicle defendant was driving after receiving information provided by his on-board computer terminal that the vehicle registration had expired in November 2007. Defendant argues that the State failed to prove that he had committed a traffic violation because it did not offer any evidence to substantiate officer's hearsay testimony regarding the expired registration. In upholding the stop, the Court of Appeals points out that the State is not required to prove that the defendant actually violated a particular statute in order to establish a reasonable suspicion or probable cause. The State must only elicit testimony that the officer knew sufficient facts to reasonably suspect that the defendant had violated a traffic law. It further pointed out that hearsay is generally admissible in a suppression hearing but even if the State could not rely on hearsay to establish reasonable suspicion, an officer's testimony regarding a vehicle registration check, like testimony regarding a driver's license check, is admissible under the public records exception.
Kimball v. State, 24 S.W.3d 555 (Tex.App.—Waco 2000, no pet.).
Officer was properly allowed, over objection, to relate information he received over the police radio by unidentified dispatcher that unknown motorist had called 911 to report possibly intoxicated driver in vehicle matching defendant’s. Court stated that an officer should be allowed to relate the information on which he was acting. Such information is not hearsay as it is not offered for the truth of the matter asserted but to show how and why the defendant’s vehicle was initially identified and followed.
Ellis v. State, 99 S.W.3d 783 (Tex.App.—Houston [1 Dist.] 2003, pet ref’d.).
Officer testified that basis for stop was he ran defendant’s license plate on the computer in his car and received a response that appellant’s car had possibly been involved in a robbery three days earlier. Defendant objected on basis of hearsay. Here, the testimony was not offered to prove the truth of the matter asserted; it was offered to show probable cause for the detention when appellant was stopped for traffic violations.
4. ANONYMOUS TIP FROM EMS TECHNICIAN
Glover v. State, 870 S.W.2d 198 (Tex.App.—Fort Worth 1994, pet. ref’d).
It was proper for officer who witnessed no erratic driving and based the stop solely on information provided by EMT to make said stop.
5. INFORMATION COMMUNICATED TO 911 OPERATOR WILL SUPPORT STOP
Rita v. State, No. 08-14-00098-CR, 2016 WL 419677 (Tex.App.-El Paso 2016)
Another case that held that the 911 caller gave sufficient details to dispatcher and the officer had sufficient ability to corroborate those details to support the stop.
Korb v. State, No. 01-15-00512-CR, 2016 WL 2753509 (Tex.App.-Houston (1st Dist.) 2016)
911 caller reported observing a light colored small truck circling an area in his neighborhood and that he thought the behavior was suspicious in that he had circled 3x in the last ten minutes. The caller gave his name and phone number. Officer arrived at the scene a minute later and saw truck matching the description in the area described and stopped truck solely based on details provided by caller. During the stop officer developed PC to arrest for DWI. Court held stop was valid with details from caller coupled with testimony from officer that he was aware that there had been occurrences of burglary and criminal mischief in that neighborhood.
Derichsweiler v. State, 2011 WL 255299 (Tex.Crim.App. 2011).
The Court holds that a 911 police dispatcher is to be regarded as a cooperating officer for purposes of making a reasonable suspicion determination. Therefore, if information is reported to the 911 operator, that information will go to support reasonable suspicion to stop an individual even if that information is not communicated to the officer who performs the stop.
6. ANONYMOUS TIP FROM HITCHHIKER
Mann v. State, 525 S.W.2d 174 (Tex.Crim.App. 1975).
Anonymous call from hitchhiker provided justification for investigative detention.
7. ANONYMOUS TIP FROM TRUCK DRIVER
Gansky v. State, 180 S.W.3d 240 (Tex. App.—Fort Worth 2005, pet ref’d).
While on routine patrol, Deputy Perkins received reports from multiple truck drivers that a white car was driving the wrong way on the highway and struck or almost struck other vehicles, signs, and gas pumps. In holding that the “anonymous tips” provided a sufficient basis for the stop, the Court focused on potential danger and extreme risk to the public, and stated that Courts should look to not only the “content of the information but the quality of the information in reviewing an officer’s decision to stop and detain.”
8. ANONYMOUS TIP — INSUFFICIENT DETAILS
State v. Garcia, No. 03-14-00048-CR, 2014 WL 4364623 (Tex.App.—Austin 2014).
A call from a 911 caller who identified himself as "Eric" reported a possible intoxicated driver in line at a to go line at a nearby fast food restaurant whom he had seen "swerving" on 1st street, and he further described the driver and the car. An officer saw a car matching that description and pulled behind it at drive-through (in effect boxing it in) and got out of his car and approached the driver. The issue was whether the information conveyed was sufficient to justify the temporary detention. In holding the detention illegal, the Court speaks to the lack of sufficient detail in the 911 caller's report which consisted of conclusory statements.
Martinez v. State, 2011 WL 2555712 (Tex.Crim.App. 2011).
Police officer lacked reasonable suspicion for investigatory detention of pickup truck driven by defendant based on an anonymous caller's report that a pickup truck of the same make and of similar color had stopped at a particular intersection, where driver placed two bicycles in bed of truck and drove west. Though investigative stop occurred close in time to caller's report and within three quarters of a mile west of the reported incident, there was no complaint of stolen bicycles, anonymous caller did not report contextual factors reasonably linking the unusual and suspicious activity to a theft, and officer did not see any bicycles in bed of truck until he approached the truck. The Court focused on the fact that the anonymous caller did not provide any identification information to the officer or to dispatch, did not follow the suspect's vehicle, was not present at the scene before the stop and the caller never referred to what he saw as a "theft." Judge Keller writes a well-reasoned dissent.
D. BAD DRIVING/CONDUCT NEED NOT = CRIMINAL OFFENSE
Pillard v. State, No. 06-14-00015-CR, 2014 WL 3953236 (Tex.App.—Texarkana 2014).
Weaving within lane and traveling 20 mph in a 40 mph zone, leaving an area populated by bars after closing time together provided a legal basis for the stop that led to this Defendant's arrest.
Martinez v. State, 2010 WL 188734 (Tex.App.—Dallas 2010).
Officer testified he observed defendant driving on a flat, straight, well-lit road with no obstacles when defendant's vehicle left its lane and hit the curb with enough force to push it back into the lane. In officer's experience, intoxicated drivers sometimes hit the curb, demonstrating they are unable to safely navigate the road. He further testified, it was early Sunday morning shortly after the bars had closed, a "high DWI' time. Because he believed defendant might be intoxicated, he stopped the car to investigate further. Defendant focused on the fact that hitting curb alone was not a traffic violation, but Court of Appeals held that totality of circumstances justified the stop.
Foster v. State, 326 S.W.3d 609 (Tex.Crim.App. 2010).
Court of Appeals found insufficient basis for stop. Court of Criminal Appeals reversed finding. Police had reasonable suspicion to believe that defendant may have been intoxicated, justifying temporary detention for further investigation when at 1:30 a.m. a few blocks from city's bar district, officer observed defendant's truck come up extremely close behind officer's vehicle at red light and appeared to lurch. Officer then heard a revving sound and noticed defendant's truck lurch forward again; in light of the time of night and location, the officer's training and experience, and defendant's aggressive driving, it was rational for the officer to have inferred that the defendant may have been intoxicated.
Derichsweiler v. State, 2011 WL 255299 (Tex.Crim.App. 2011).
The defendant was reported to be stopping next to vehicles in parking lots and staring at the occupants of those vehicles. That conduct resulted in a 911 call that ended with the detention and arrest of the defendant. The issue - was the defendant's non-criminal behavior enough to justify an investigative stop without reasonable suspicion of a particular offense? The Court said yes, pointing out there is no requirement to point to a particular offense, but rather reasonable suspicion that he was about to engage in criminal activity.
State v. Alderete, 2010 WL 1634580 (Tex.App.-El Paso 2010).
Police officers had reasonable suspicion to stop defendant on suspicion of DWI, where defendant continuously swerved within her lane for half of a mile in the early morning hours, and officers were trained to detect individuals driving while intoxicated, even if defendant did not violate any traffic regulation.
Rafaelli v. State, 881 S.W.2d 714 (Tex.App.—Texarkana 1994, pet. ref’d).
Weaving in his lane, though not inherently illegal act, did provide sufficient basis for officer to stop defendant’s vehicle.
Dowler v. State, 44 S.W.3d 666 (Tex.App.—Austin 2001, pet. ref’d.).
In support of an anonymous tip, officer also observed defendant weave or drift within his lane of traffic, touching the outside white line more than once and once crossing into an on ramp when defendant had no reason to enter the on ramp. Defendant was also driving twenty miles per hour below the posted limit and failed to respond when the officer turned on the patrol car’s emergency lights. Officer testified in his experience it is uncommon for sober drivers to drive in that fashion.
Fox v. State, 900 S.W.2d 345 (Tex.App.—Fort Worth 1995), pet. dism’d, improv. granted, 930 S.W.2d 607 [Tex.Crim.App. 1996]).
Fluctuating speed and weaving within the lane did provide sufficient basis for officer to stop defendant’s vehicle.
Townsend v. State, 813 S.W.2d 181 (Tex.App.—Houston [14th Dist] 1991, pet. ref’d).
Testimony that defendant wove back and forth was sufficient basis even in the absence of any evidence it was unsafe to do so.
Oliphant v. State, 764 S.W.2d 858 (Tex.App.—Corpus Christi 1989, pet. ref’d).
Defendant’s car extended into intersection at stop; then defendant made wide turn, drifted in and out of his lane and swerved within his lane.
E. “COMMUNITY CARE-TAKING FUNCTION” (CCF)
Wright v. State, 7 S.W.3d 148 (Tex. Crim. App. 1999) rev'd on remand, 18 S.W.3d 245 (Tex.App. –– Austin 2000, pet. ref’d).
The case came to the Court of Criminal Appeals when the Austin Court of Appeals failed to apply the "community care-taking function" in holding the stop in this case to be unreasonable. The basis for the stop was that the officer observed a passenger in the vehicle vomiting out of a car window. The Court of Appeals did not believe that concept covered a passenger’s actions. The Court of Criminal Appeals held that the exception could apply to these facts and listed four factors that are relevant in determining when community care-taking provides a sufficient basis for a traffic stop:
1) the nature and level of distress exhibited by the individual
2) the location of the individual
3) whether the individual was alone and/or had access to assistance independent of that offered by the officer; and
4) to what extent the individual—if not assisted—presented a danger to himself or others.
The court added that, "as part of his duty to ‘serve and protect' a police officer may stop and assist an individual whom a reasonable person--given the totality of the circumstances--would believe is in need of help." The case was remanded back to the Court of Appeals which in 18 S.W.3d 245 (Tex. App. - Austin 2000) applied the above mentioned factors and found the stop to be unreasonable.
Endter v. State, No. 13-15-00086-CR, 2016 WL 4702377 (Tex. App. – Corpus Christi Christi-Edinburg 2016)
In response to 911 call officer arrives and finds Defendant passed out and slumped over in driver’s side of car in lane of drive through window at Whataburger. Vehicle was running and in park. As officer opened driver’s side door Defendant slumped out of seat towards officer. After several attempts officer wakes Defendant up. Court applied the factors for Community Caretaking and found this case falls into exception.
Dearmond v. State, No. 02-15-00195-CR, 2016 WL 859064 (Tex.App.-Fort Worth 2016, reh-denied)
Traffic stop of Defendant who was driving a vehicle with two flat tires was justified by community caretaking function and also provided reasonable suspicion for violation of traffic law that prohibits operating a motor vehicle that was unsafe (547.004(a)(1) Texas Transportation Code).
Saldana v. State, No. 04-14-00658-CR, 2015 WL 3770499 (Tex.App. –San Antonio 2015)
While investigating hearing a loud “bang” noise at 1:00 a.m. officer noticed Defendant’s truck somewhat in middle of a dark roadway and saw Defendant and passenger get out of truck and walk around to back of it and appear to be looking at damage to rear of truck. Officer pulled in behind truck and activated lights. Court help proper Community Caretaking stop.
Gonzales v. State, 369 S.W.3d 851 (Tex.Crim.App. 2012).
Defendant's detention was justified under the community caretaking exception to the warrant requirement; officer observed a vehicle pull over to the side of a lightly traveled highway sometime before 1:00 a.m. and was concerned that the operator of the vehicle might need assistance; and thus, officer was motivated primarily by his community caretaking duties, and because traffic was minimal in the location where defendant was stopped, there were no houses nearby and only a few businesses in the area. If defendant had needed assistance, he would have difficulty finding anyone other than officer to help him, and officer's belief that defendant needed help was objectively reasonable.
Munoz v. State, 2010 WL 3304242 (Tex.App.—Fort Worth 2010).
Where defendant was observed traveling at almost half the posted speed limit, and pulling into the parking lot of closed business alone in her car and absent the officer had no access to assistance, it was a proper community caretaking stop. Police officer's stop of defendant's vehicle to determine if she was lost was reasonable exercise of his community caretaking function. Even though the fourth factor, whether she posed a danger to herself or others if not assisted, weighs against the application of the community caretaking function, "not all factors must support the application of the exception in determining whether the officer acted reasonably in exercising his community caretaking funciton."
Chilman v. State, 22 S.W.3d 50 (Tex. App.—Houston [14th Dist] 2000, pet. ref’d.).
Around 2:00 a.m., the officer observed a red car stopped in front of a barricade erected to block campus entrance. The officer did not know when the red car had pulled up to the barricade although he knew the car was not there when he passed by the same spot twenty minutes earlier. Officer observed the passenger leave the red car and survey the barricade to the campus entrance. In an effort to determine what the car's occupants were doing on campus and possibly to provide some assistance because they appeared to be lost, officer turned on his patrol car's emergency equipment. This action prompted the passenger to jump back into the red car. When the officer approached, the Defendant who was in the driver's seat, asked the officer why he had stopped him and declared that there was no reason to stop him. After determining the Defendant was intoxicated, the officer arrested him for DWI. Stop held to be justified.
Hulit v. State, 982 S.W.2d 431 (Tex. Crim. App. 1998).
Police were dispatched in response to a report of a "woman possibly having a heart attack in a vehicle." Officer found a pickup truck sitting in the inside lane of a service road about fifty feet from an intersection and saw an individual slumped over the steering wheel of the truck. The truck engine was still running and the windows were rolled up. The officer approached the vehicle and began rapping on the window and yelling at the driver to wake up. With the assistance of a second officer, the driver awakened and opened the door of the pickup. The testifying officer smelled alcohol about the driver. Once the driver got out of the truck at the officer's request, the truck began rolling backward. Defendant was arrested for DWI. The Court of Criminal Appeals held "that Article I, Section 9 contains no requirement that a seizure or search be authorized by a warrant, and that a seizure or search that is otherwise reasonable will not be found to be in violation of that section because it was not authorized by a warrant." The court concluded that, based on the totality of the circumstances, the officers' actions were not unreasonable.
Cunningham v. State, 966 S.W.2d 811 (Tex.App.—Beaumont 1998, no pet.).
Officer stopped Defendant after observing her driving late at night at an unsafe speed on a flat tire in a bad neighborhood. Stop justified under CCF.
2. DOESN'T APPLY
Byram v. State, No. 02-14-00343-CR, 2015 WL 6134114 (Tex.App.-Fort Worth 2015)
While stopped alongside Defendant’s vehicle at light officer noticed that female passenger in Defendant’s car was hunched all the way over and appeared to be either unconscious or in need of medical attention. He also smelled odor of alcoholic beverage coming from vehicle. Officer called out to Defendant asking if female was ok and Defendant ignored him. Officer made stop but it was held not to be proper Community Caretaking stop as passengers’ level of distress was not sufficient, she was not alone, did not present danger to herself or others. There is a well-reasoned dissent that discusses problems with courts reasoning.
Alford v. State, No.05-10-00922-CR, 2012 WL 5447866 (Tex.App.—Dallas 2012) (not designated for publication).
This case involves an officer on bike patrol who saw a car stopped in a dead end alleyway behind an open Jack in the Box. The passenger door was opened and they could tell there was a loud conversation going on between driver and passenger who ultimately changed places. Officer pulled up to passenger side and as Defendant was about to pull away asked him to stop and talked to them about what they were doing. In hearing the answer, the officer developed reasonable suspicion that the Defendant was intoxicated and ultimately arrested him for DWI. At MTS hearing, the State argued Community Caretaking and the Trial Court agreed with this. On appeal the State tried to add argument of encounter but the Court ruled the State waived that argument by not raising it earlier. It then went on to explain that the stop failed all four of the factors that are to be considered in determining if a stop is a Community Caretaking stop and reversed the trial court's ruling.
Koteras v. State, 2010 WL 1790808 (Tex.App.-Houston [14th Dist.] 2010) (Not designated for publication).
Court of Appeals rejected Trial Court's finding that this was a proper community caretaking stop. Specifically, it found that merely pulling one's vehicle onto the shoulder of the road does not warrant detention by a law enforcement officer, and the curiosity of an officer to see "what is going on" is not sufficient to meet the community caretaking function.
Franks v. State, No. 03-06-00231-CR, 2007 WL 2744617 (Tex.App.—Austin 2007) (not designated for publication).
This was an appeal of a motion to suppress denial. The issue was whether the officer’s contact with a visibly upset female motorist in a parked car with the motor running and his refusal to allow her to leave, fell within Community Care-taking Exception. The Court found that the officer’s initial interaction with the defendant was an encounter, but that encounter became a detention when the officer told the defendant she couldn’t leave. The detention was not justified by the officer’s community care-taking function because the defendant did not exhibit a high enough level of distress, she was not in an unsafe location, and she did not pose a danger to herself or others.
Corbin v. State, 85 S.W.3d 272, (Tex.Crim.App. 2002).
Defendant's car was observed at 1:00 a.m. crossing over a side stripe onto the shoulder of the road and driving on the shoulder about 20 feet. He was traveling 52 mph when speed limit was 65 mph. Officer pulled Defendant over for failure to maintain a single lane and because he felt the Defendant might be drunk or in need of assistance. Before pulling him over, the officer followed the Defendant for about a mile and observed no traffic violations. Upon stopping, it was discovered that the Defendant had cocaine strapped to his back. The majority focused on whether the officer’s belief that Defendant needed help was "reasonable.” The Court further held that the most weight should be given to factor number one, namely, "the nature and level of distress exhibited by the individual.” The Court held that the "community care-taking function" did not apply in this case.
Andrews v. State, 79 S.W.3d 649 (Tex. App.— Waco 2002, pdr ref’d).
Officer observed Defendant pull to the side of the road and then observed Defendant's wife, front seat passenger, lean out the door and vomit, and the Defendant drove off and was stopped by officer. Court held stop was not justified by the community care-taking function
F. OFFICER’S ARREST AUTHORITY WHEN OUTSIDEJURISDICTION
1. FOR A TRAFFIC OFFENSE
(a) STOPS MADE BEFORE 9-01-05 = NO
State v. Kurtz, 152 S.W.3d 72 (Tex.Crim.App., 2004).
An officer of the police department of a city does not have authority to stop a person for committing a traffic offense when the officer is in another city within the same county.
(b) STOPS MADE AFTER 9-01-05 = YES
Article 14.03 (g)(1)
Authorizes a municipal police officer to make a warrantless arrest for a traffic offense that occurs anywhere in the county or counties in which the officer’s municipality is located. Note: This legislative change effectively overrules the Kurtz case listed above.
2. CAN STOP AND ARREST FOR "BREACH OFPEACE"
State v. McMorris, 2006 WL 1452097, No. 02-05-00363-CR (Tex.App. Fort Worth 2006, pet. ref’d) (not designated for publication).
This case addressed the issue of whether a municipal police officer has authority to stop a driver outside of his jurisdiction when he reasonably suspects the driver of DWI. The law in effect is the pre-2005 version of Article 14.04 of the CCP. The trial court suppressed the stop and the Court of Appeals reversed. The trial court viewed this as an officer stopping a vehicle for a traffic offense, failure to yield right of way, which he cannot do and the Court of Appeals viewed the traffic offense as giving the officer reasonable suspicion that the defendant was DWI which does support the stop.
Valentich v. State, 2-04-101-CR, 2005 WL 1405801 (Tex.App.—Fort Worth 2005) (not designated for publication).
Officer was authorized to detain Defendant because he had reasonable suspicion to believe he was observing a breach of the peace, that is, driving while intoxicated, and because he pursued her from his lawful jurisdiction in Flower Mound a very short distance into Lewisville.
Ruiz v. State, 907 S.W.2d 600 (Tex.App.—Corpus Christi 1995, no pet.).
Officer, who was outside of his jurisdiction, could properly stop and arrest defendant whom he observed driving the wrong way down a highway for a “breach of the peace.”
See also: Romo v. State, 577 S.W.2d 251 (Tex.Crim.App. 1979).
3. TO MAKE ARREST FOR DWI
Preston v. State, 983 S.W.2d 24 (Tex.App.—Tyler 1998, no pet.).
Officer may arrest a suspect for DWI even though he is outside of his jurisdiction under Article 14.03(g) of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure so long as he, as soon as practical, notifies an officer having jurisdiction where the arrest was made.
4. FAILURE TO NOTIFYOFFICERS WITHIN JURISDICTION DOES NOT VIOLATE EXCLUSIONARY RULE
Turnbow v. State, No. 2-02-260-CR, 2003 WL 2006602 (Tex.App.—Fort Worth, May 1, 2003, pet. ref’d.) (Not designated for publication.).
Bachick v. State, 30 S.W.3d 549 (Tex.App.—Fort Worth 2000, pet. ref’d).
Officer undertook a valid traffic stop outside his jurisdiction after observing a traffic offense within his jurisdiction which ultimately led to the arrest of the defendant for DWI. Officer did not notify arresting agency within that jurisdiction as required by 14.03(b). His failure to do so did not warrant evidence suppression under the exclusionary rule. Court held that the notice requirement is unrelated to the purpose of the exclusionary rule.
5. CITY VS. COUNTY-WIDE JURISDICTION
Sawyer v. State, 2009 WL 722256 (Tex.App.—Austin 2009, no pet.) (Not designated for publication).
Dogay v. State, 101 S.W.3d 614 (Tex.App.—Houston [1st Dist.] 2003, no pet.).
Brother v. State, 166 S.W.3d 255 (Tex.Crim.App. 2005), cert. denied, 546 U.S. 1150 (2006).
Officer made the traffic stop outside his jurisdiction (city) but within the same county. The court found that there was nothing in the legislative history of amendments to Tex.Code Crim. Proc.Ann. Art. 1403 (Vernon Supp. 2002) and Tex. Loc. Gov’t. Code Ann. §341.001 (e), 341.021(e) (Vernon 1999), to indicate that the legislature intended to abrogate the common law rule that the jurisdiction of an officer of a class A general-law municipality was county-wide. The court declined to follow rulings to the contrary.
(b) OFFICER WITHIN JURISDICTION’S PARTICIPATION
Armendariz v. State, 123 S.W.3d 401 (Tex.Crim.App.2003).
The lower Court of Appeals reversed this case because it found that the stop occurred outside the arresting officer’s jurisdiction and was therefore unlawful. In rejecting this argument, the court pointed out that the police who were outside their city limits and arguably their jurisdiction were acting on information provided by a county sheriff (within whose county jurisdiction the stop did occur) who observed the traffic offense, radioed the information to the police and stayed in radio contact with the police up to the stop. In effect, the sheriff’s participation in the circumstances
surrounding the defendant’s arrest made him just as much a participant in the arrest as if he had seized the defendant himself.
(c) HOT PURSUIT
Yeager v. State, 104 S.W.3d 103 (Tex.Crim.App.2003).
After observing the defendant nearly drive his vehicle into a ditch while leaving the parking lot of a bar within their city limits, officers followed him to further evaluate his driving and ultimately pulled him over for investigation of DWI outside the city limits. They stopped him after they observed him almost hit another vehicle. The trial court held stop was legal and the Court of Appeals reversed holding that the officers’ “Type B Municipality” authority ended at the city limits, and it further rejected the “hot pursuit” argument as it found that there was no “chase” or “pursuit” as officers
merely followed the defendant. The Court of Criminal Appeals found that this was a good example
of “Hot Pursuit” and the dictionary definition of “pursuit” includes “follow.” The test is whether the initial “pursuit” was lawfully initiated on the ground of suspicion, and the Court found in this case that it was. The issue of the jurisdiction of a “Type B Municipality” was not reached.
Turnbow v. State, No. 2-02-260-CR, 2003 WL 2006602 (Tex.App.—Fort Worth, May 1, 2003, pet. ref’d.) (Not designated for publication.).
Officer observed defendant’s vehicle speeding and cross over the center line five times. Though the officer tried to initiate the stop within the county line, by the time the defendant was pulled over, he was just under a mile across the line. The officer testified at a Motion to Suppress hearing that he did not feel that he was involved in a chase or in a pursuit while he followed the defendant. The defendant was convicted at a later trial and argued on appeal that the arrest was illegal and not “hot pursuit.” The Court of Appeals found that it was a legal stop under the “hot pursuit” doctrine and further found the doctrine applies even when an officer does not subjectively believe he is in hot pursuit.
G. PRETEXT STOPS - NO LONGER BASIS FORSUPPRESSION
Crittendon v. State, 899 S.W.2d 668 (Tex.Crim.App. 1995).
Pretext stops are valid so long as objective basis for stop exists.
H. OPERATING VEHICLE IN UNSAFE CONDITION
Sweeney v. State, 6 S.W.3d 670 (Tex.App.—Houston [1st Dist.] 1999, pet. ref’d.).
State v. Kloecker, 939 S.W.2d 209 (Tex.App.—Houston [1st Dist.] 1997, no pet. h.).
Trial judge held that there was insufficient basis for the stop. Court of Appeals reversed holding that officer observation that defendant was driving on a tireless metal wheel and knew this constituted the traffic offense of driving a vehicle on a highway in an unsafe condition.
I. FAILING TO DIM LIGHT
McCurtain v. State, No. 05-15-00959-CR, 2016 WL 3913043 (Tex. App. – Dallas 2016)
Texas v. McCray, 986 S.W.2d 259 (Tex.App.—Texarkana 1998, pet. ref’d).
Violation of a portion of the traffic code (failing to dim lights) provides a sufficient basis for a traffic stop.
J. RAPID ACCELERATION/SPINNING TIRES
Fernandez v. State, 306 S.W.3d 354 (Tex.App.-Fort Worth 2010).
Officer heard defendant's pickup loudly squeal its tires and saw light smoke coming from the tires as the pickup fishtailed about two feet outside its lane of traffic supporting officer's opinion that what he observed constituted reckless driving and supported the stop. This was so although there were no vehicles directly around defendant's vehicle though there was testimony there were other vehicles in the area.
Bice v. State, 17 S.W.3d 354 (Tex.App.—Houston [1st Dist.] 2000, reh overruled).
Collins v. State, 829 S.W.2d 894 (Tex.App.—Dallas 1992, no pet.).
Harris v. State, 713 S.W.2d 773 (Tex.App.—Houston [1st Dist.] 1986, no pet.).
State v. Guzman, 240 S.W.3d 362 (Tex.App.-Austin 2007, pdr ref'd).
The spinning motion of one tire of defendant's truck as truck began to move from a stop after traffic light turned green did not alone give police officer reasonable suspicion that defendant was unlawfully exhibiting acceleration in violation of statute pertaining to racing on highways, and thus officer's stop of defendant's vehicle on that basis was unlawful.
K. WEAVING WITHIN LANE/FAILING TO MAINTAIN SINGLE LANE
State v. Alderete, 314 S.W.3d 469 (Tex.App.—El Paso, 2010, pet. ref'd).
Reversing the Trial Court, the Court of Appeals held that officers had reasonable suspicion to stop defendant on suspicion of DWI where defendant continuously swerved within her lane for half of a mile in the early morning hours. Officers were trained to detect individuals driving while intoxicated and based on that training, weaving is a common characteristic of intoxicated drivers so the Court held that even if defendant did not violate any traffic regulations, there was a sufficient basis for the stop.
Dunkelberg v. State, 2008 WL 4445701 (Tex.App.—Fort Worth, 2008),
The defendant’s vehicle was observed weaving within lane in road. The vehicle crossed the lane divider at least once. In supporting this as the basis for the stop and distinguishing it from holdings that have held weaving insufficient as a basis, the Court focused on the following: The officer stated that based on his training, defendant’s weaving, slow reaction to officer’s emergency lights and driving at that time of night are three of the sixteen clues that indicated the driver might be intoxicated.
Curtis v. State, 209 S.W.3d 688, (Tex.App.—Texarkana, 2006, pdr granted). Reversed: Curtis v. State, No. PD-1820-06, 2007 WL 317541 (Tex.Crim.App. 2007). Conviction affirmed Curtis v. State, No. 06-05-00125-CR, 2008 WL 707285 (Tex.App.—Texarkana, 2008).
Court of Appeals overruled the trial court’s denial of motion to suppress on the following facts. Officer’s observing the defendant swerving from lane to lane on a four-lane divided highway did not give him reasonable suspicion of intoxication to support traffic stop, even though officer testified he had a suspicion that driver’s weaving was the result of intoxication, where officers did not testify that anything other than defendant’s weaving led them to suspect intoxication, and there were numerous reasons other than intoxication that would cause a driver to swerve.
This holding was reversed by the Court of Criminal Appeals which held that the Court of Appeals had applied the wrong legal standard in its determination of the issue of reasonable suspicion to make the traffic stop. The rejected standard arose from the Court’s suggestion that the State needed to disprove the non-intoxicated reasons that may have accounted for the weaving of the defendant’s car.
State v. Arend, No. 2-03-336-CR, 2005 WL 994710 (Tex.App.—Fort Worth 2005, pet. ref’d.) (Not designated for publication).
Trooper’s observation that the Defendant weaved within his lane as he followed him for approximately 50 seconds, combined with his experience as a police officer and his belief that said driving tended to indicate intoxication, provided sufficient reasonable suspicion to justify the stop.
Held v. State, 948 S.W.2d 45 (Tex.App.—Houston [14th Dist.] 1997, pet. ref’d).
Weaving need not constitute an offense to provide basis for a proper traffic stop.
Cook v. State, 63 S.W.3d 924 (Tex.App.—Houston [14th Dist.] 2002, pet. ref’d).
Gajewski v. State, 944 S.W.2d 450 (Tex.App..—Houston [14th Dist] 1997, no pet).
Weaving in and out of several traffic lanes may not be negated by the fact that no other traffic was around at the time--in that this action raises reasonable suspicion of intoxication rather than a mere traffic offense.
State v. Gendron, No. 08-13-00119-CR (Tex.App.-El Paso 2015)
This comes down to a poorly developed record where Officer was not asked sufficient questions to justify the stop.
State v. Houghton, No. 02-11-00375-CR, 2012 WL 5258731 (Tex.App.—Fort Worth 2012) (not designated for publication).
This case involves an appeal of a Trial Court's ruling that the officer had no reasonable suspicion to stop Defendant based upon testimony at hearing and video recording. State failed to establish that Defendant's crossing solid white stripe as part of her vehicular movement into left-turn lane provided officer with reasonable suspicion or probable cause to stop defendant's vehicle. Although Defendant's vehicle crossed solid white stripe that marked the right boundary of the left-turn lane, Defendant signaled a lane change, moved her vehicle into the left-turn lane, and waited for an approaching car to clear the intersection before turning left and there was no testimony at the hearing that this was done in an "unsafe manner."
Fowler v. State, 266 S.W.3d 498 (Tex.App.—Fort Worth 2008).
The defendant’s vehicle crossing one time into adjacent lane by tire’s width when there was no other traffic in area did not constitute sufficient basis for traffic stop. The officer also testified that he did not find the driving unsafe but thought it violated Transportation Code. The Court held that an officer’s honest but mistaken understanding of the traffic law which prompted a stop is not an exception to the reasonable suspicion requirement. There is also no mention in the record of the officer’s suspecting the driver was intoxicated.
State v. Huddleston, 164 S.W.3d 711 (Tex.App.—Austin, 2005).
Officer observed suspect vehicle pull out from the bar’s parking lot and proceed at and within one-and-a half miles of the bar, observed it drift twice to the right side of the roadway and cross over the white shoulder stripe, or fog line. The then activated video shows that the right wheels of the car crossed the fog line three more times during the next three minutes. He never saw the vehicle cross the yellow line separating the two lanes of traffic. He further testified the movements individually were neither unlawful nor unsafe, but the combined number did make them unsafe. Sole basis raised for the stop was failure to stay within a single marked lane. Only after Motion to Suppress was granted did State offer other justifications for the stop: reasonable suspicion of DWI and community caretaking, but these were deemed untimely and therefore waived. Therefore, the Court holding that the officer had no reasonable suspicion to make the stop was upheld.
Bass v. State, 64 S.W.3d 646 (Tex.App.—Texarkana 2001, pet. ref’d).
Observation that the defendant was swerving within his lane and crossing over the lane marker did not provide sufficient basis for a traffic stop. Though the State argues that the officer was stopping the defendant based upon a traffic offense, the Court points out that the officer in this case never testified that the lane change occurred in an “unsafe manner” nor did the record show how many times he had crossed over the lane marker.
State v. Cerny, 28 S.W.3d 796 (Tex.App.—Corpus Christi 2000, no pet.).
This is a State’s appeal of the trial judge’s granting a motion to suppress. Defendant was observed by the officer swerving across the center lane divider and swerving over the white shoulder line three times. The Court upheld the suppression based upon the lack of testimony that the lane change was in an unsafe manner. The Court also noted that it will give deference to a trial judge’s ruling.
State v. Arriaga, 5 S.W.3d 804 (Tex.App.—San Antonio 1999, pet. ref’d).
In a DWI investigatory detention, drifting within the lane does not give rise to reasonable suspicion to pull over. Under the totality of the circumstances, the officer must have more facts which lead him to intoxication. For example, just pulled out of a bar and the time of night. The officer offered no evidence to show that he believed the defendant to be intoxicated. Although mere weaving in one’s lane of traffic can justify an investigatory stop when the weaving is erratic, unsafe, or tends to indicate intoxication or other criminal activity, nothing in the record indicated that the arresting officer believed any of the above to be the case.
State v. Tarvin, 972 S.W.2d 910 (Tex.App.—Waco 1998, pet. ref’d).
Where evidence at Motion to Suppress was that officer observed defendant weaving within his lane and there was no testimony that officer found said driving to be “erratic, unsafe or tending to indicate intoxication,” trial judge was correct in suppressing the stop. In essence the evidence didn’t rise to the level necessary to support stop under Texas Transportation Code 545.060(a). See also Ehrhart v. State, 9 S.W.3d 929 (Tex.App.—Beaumont 2000,reh. overruled) .
(c) FAILURE TO MAINTAIN SINGLE LANE (FMSL)
Leming v. State, 493 s.w.3D 552 (Tex.Crim.App. 2016 Reh Denied)
This case involved a stop based on FMSL, Transportation Code 545.060. The Court held that it is an offense to change marked lanes when it is unsafe to do so, and it is also an independent offense to fail to remain entirely within a marked lane of traffic so long as it remains practical to do so regardless of whether or not that failure to do so can be regarded as being unsafe. In so holding the Court of Criminal Appeals explicitly rejects the contrary interpretation of 545.060 by the Atkinson and Hernandez v. State, 983 SW2d 867 (Tex.App.-Austin 1998, pet ref’d) Courts of Appeals opinions. The Court also found that the Officer’s reasonable suspicion that the Defendant was driving while intoxicated supported the stop.
L. DEFECTIVE TAIL LAMP OR BRAKE LAMP AS BASIS FOR STOP
Vicknair v. State, 751 S.W.2d 180 (Tex.Crim.App.1998 [op. on reh’g]).
Where stop was based on cracked tail lamp with some white light showing through, there was insufficient evidence that traffic statute was violated. (Red light also showing.)
Montes v.State, No. 08-13-00060-CR (Tex.App.-El Paso 2015)
The issue was whether the Statute that speaks to working tail lights was satisfied if the mandatory two were working or if it covered the additional lights that were present in this case. The Defendant’s vehicle had four tail lights, two more than are required, and one of them was out. Court held that the transportation code section applies to “all” light on vehicle and therefore the single light not working did constitute a traffic violation.
Texas Department of Public Safety v. Hindman, 989 S.W.2d 28 (Tex.App.—Fort Worth 1999, no pet.).
Where stop was based on broken tail light with white light showing through and there was no evidence that any red light was showing, there was sufficient evidence of traffic statute violation and stop was proper. (Vicknair Distinguished.)
Starrin v. State, 2005 WL 3343875 (Tex.App.—Fort Worth 2005, no pet.).
Stop was based on observation that one of the three brake lights on the defendant's vehicle was out. Defendant argued on appeal that Texas law requires only two functioning brake lights. The Court finds that federal standard requires three brake lights for cars of a certain width and takes judicial notice of the fact that the car in question fits those dimensions and holds the stop was lawful.
M. MUST RADAR EVIDENCE MEET KELLY TEST?
Ochoa v. State, 994 S.W.2d 283 (Tex.App.—El Paso 1999, no pet.).
Officer’s testimony that he was certified to use hand held radar to detect speed, that he calibrated and tested his radar instrument on the day he issued the speeding ticket, and that the gun used radar waves to calculate speed was insufficient to establish proper foundation for admitting radar evidence. Pursuant to Kelly v. State, 824 S.W.2d 568 (Tex.Crim.App. 1992), the officer must further be able to explain the calculation the gun made or explain the theory underlying the calculation. Error held harmless in this case because officer also gave opinion motorist was driving at a “high rate of speed.”
2. JUDICIAL NOTICE OF RADAR
Icke v. State, 36 S.W.3d 913 (Tex.App.—Houston [1st Dist.] 2001, pet. ref’d).
Trial Court took judicial notice of the scientific reliability of radar over defense objection. The defense appealed arguing the Court could not take such notice and the radar reading was not admissible under Kelly v. State citing Ochoa. The Appellate Court held that where the officer formed the opinion that defendant was speeding before using radar and testified that radar merely confirmed his suspicion that appellant was speeding provided sufficient evidence that the officer had a reasonable suspicion and that the stop was proper. The court speaks to the Ochoa cases and comments that the question of whether a judge could properly take judicial notice of the scientific reliability of radar is an interesting one, does not reach the issue or resolve that question.
3. RADAR MEETS 1ST PRONG OF KELLYTEST
Mills v. State, 99 S.W.3d 200 (Tex.App.—Fort Worth 2002, pet. ref’d.).
In agreeing with the reasoning of the Maysonet opinion, the Court points out the importance of flexibility in determining the admissibility of scientific evidence. “When dealing with well-established scientific theory, Kelly’s framework provides courts flexibility to utilize past precedence and generally accepted principles of science to conclude its theoretical validity as a matter of law. To strictly construe Kelly otherwise would place a significant burden on judicial economy by requiring parties to bring to court experts in fields of science that no reasonable person would challenge as valid.” Though the first prong is met under Kelly, the State must still establish that the officer applied a valid technique and that it was correctly applied on the particular occasion in question.
Maysonet v. State, 91 S.W.3d 365 (Tex.App.—Texarkana, October 16, 2002, pet. ref’d).
In this case, the suspect was stopped for going 74 mph in a 70 mph speed zone. The speed was measured with radar. The officer testified he had been using the radar equipment since 1990 and had calibrated and tested his radar unit one day before he stopped the suspect. He could not explain the margin of error or the underlying scientific theory of radar and no evidence showing the validity of the underlying theory or technique applied was offered. The appellant objects and cites Ochoa for the proposition that the predicate under Kelly was not met. The Court rejects that argument holding that in light of society’s widespread use of radar devices, “we view the underlying scientific principles of radar as indisputable and valid as a matter of law.” All the State needed to establish was that the officer applied a valid technique correctly on the occasion in question and the Court finds that a trier of fact could have found the officer’s testimony sufficient.
4. LIDAR RADAR AS SOLE BASIS FOR STOP WITHOUT PROOF OF RELIABILITY IS INSUFFICIENT
Hall v. State, 297 S.W.3d 294 (Tex.Crim.App. 2009).
This case involved a stop for speeding based on LIDAR radar device. In finding there was no PC to support the stop, the Court of Criminal Appeals held there was no evidence that the LIDAR device was used to confirm the arresting officer's independent, personal observation that defendant was speeding. There was no evidence to show that use of LIDAR technology to measure speed supplies reasonably trustworthy information or that the trial judge took judicial notice of this fact, as well as his basis for doing so. As a result, the State failed to establish that the officer, who relied solely on LIDAR technology to conclude that the defendant was speeding, had probable cause to stop him.
5. RADAR NOT NEEDED TO JUSTIFY STOP FOR SPEEDING
Deramus v. State, 2011 WL 582667 (Tex.App.—Fort Worth 2011).
Officer had reasonable suspicion that defendant was violating the transportation code by driving at a speed that was neither reasonable nor prudent as required to support the traffic stop. Although there was no evidence of the posted speed limit and no radar was used, the officer testified that defendant was driving at a speed that exceeded the speed limit as he was familiar with what a car traveling that block looked like at the speed limit. In upholding the stop, the Court points out an officer is not required by statute to use radar to confirm speed, and that it is not always possible for an officer to do so. Nor does the State have to show the defendant actually committed a traffic violation as long as evidence shows officer reasonably believed a violation occurred.
N. CITIZEN’S ARREST FOR ‘BREACH OF THE PEACE’AS BASIS FOR STOP
Cunningham v. State, 2004 WL 2803220, No. 04-03-00935-CR, (Tex.App.—San Antonio, December 08, 2004) (not designated for publication).
The defendant nearly hit vehicle of a private security officer–forced him off the road and then proceeded to weave in his lane. These actions constituted a breach of the peace and posed a continuing threat to the safety of the community. Additionally, upon being approached after stopping his vehicle at a drive-through, the defendant exhibited further symptoms of intoxication and admitted he had consumed several beers. Court held that the defendant committed a breach of the peace and a citizen’s arrest was authorized in this instance.
Kunkel v. State, 46 S.W.3d 328 (Tex.App.—Houston [14th Dist.] March 8, 2001, pet.ref’d.).
Defendant challenges the authority of a civilian wrecker driver to stop and “arrest” him. Court found that even though a citizen cannot make an arrest for mere moving violations, the cumulative driving behavior of the defendant in this case amounted to a “breach of the peace.” The citizen observed the defendant weaving back and forth over the roadway, hitting and driving over the curb about 20 times over a quarter of a mile before she pulled up the gated entrance of some town homes at which point the civilian pulled in front of her blocking her entrance into the complex, taking her card key and keeping her in her car until the police arrived.
O. SIGNAL VIOLATIONS
1. TURNING/EXITING WITHOUT A SIGNAL
Crider v. State, No. 08-12-00332, 2014 WL 2993792 (Tex.App.—El Paso 2014).
This case involved a "Y" shaped intersection and the question of whether or not the Defendant should have signaled given that it was not a 90-degree angle. The term "turn" is not defined by statute and Court points to Court of Criminal Appeals reasoning in Mahaffey v. State, 316 S.W.3d 638 (Tex.Crim.App. 2010) which says that to "turn" means to "change direction." In this case the Defendant's leftward movement after coming to a complete stop constituted a turn. It points out that the 90 degree angle comment purportedly from the Trahan case was dicta.
Wehring v. State, 2008 WL 5411664 (Tex.App.—Texarkana 2008).
Defendant’s failure to signal his intent to turn when entering the turn lane and when actually making the right turn constituted a traffic violation, and therefore, officer was authorized to stop and detain defendant. Transportation Code 545.104
Reha v. State, 99 S.W.3d 373 (Tex.App.—Corpus Christi 2003).
Defendant turned left at intersection without signaling and was subsequently stopped for traffic violation. Section 545.104 of the Transportation Code requires an operator to use a turn signal “to indicate an intention to turn, change lanes, or start from a parked position.” A turn signal is required regardless of the degree of the turn. No language in the Statute limiting it to turns of ninety degrees. Court disagrees with Trahan and Zeno.
Krug v. State, 86 S.W.3d 764 (Tex.App.—El Paso 2002).
Defendant failed to signal his turn off of a public roadway into a private driveway. Court held that the failure to signal was a traffic violation and disagrees with Trahan and Zeno.
State v. Zeno, 44 S.W.3d 709 (Tex.App.-Beaumont 2001, pet. ref'd).
Trahan v. State, 16 S.W.3d 146 (Tex.App.-Beaumont 2000, no pet.).
Defendant was stopped for failing to signal when he exited the freeway. Court held that 545.104 did not apply as there was no evidence that he made a turn or changed lanes to exit the freeway. It bases the finding that there was no "turn" on its belief that the language only applies to ninety degree turns.
2. FAILING TO TIMELY SIGNAL INTENT TO TURN
State v. Zeno, 44 S.W.3d 709 (Tex.App.—Beaumont 2001, pet. ref’d).
Trahan v. State, 16 S.W.3d 146 (Tex.App.—Beaumont 2000, no pet.).
Defendant was stopped for failing to signal when he exited the freeway. Court held that 545.104 did not apply as there was no evidence that he made a turn or changed lanes to exit the freeway. It bases the finding that there was no “turn” on its belief that the language only applies to ninety degree turns.
P. “FOLLOWING TOO CLOSELY”– SUFFICIENT DETAIL?
Ford v. State,158 S.W.3d 488 (Tex.Crim.App., March 9, 2005).
Texas State Trooper Andrew Peavy pulled Matthew Ford’s vehicle over for following another car too closely on Highway 290 outside of Houston in violation of Texas Transportation Code § 545.062(a) which provides that an operator shall, if following another vehicle, maintain an assured clear distance between the two vehicles so that, considering the speed of the vehicles, traffic, and the conditions of the highway, the operator can safely stop without colliding with the preceding vehicle or veering into another vehicle, object, or person on or near the highway. There were no details given beyond the statement that the officer thought the defendant was traveling “too closely.” Court of Appeals held stop was proper and the Court of Criminal Appeals reversed holding that the officer’s “conclusory statement” was unsupported by articulable facts. “The State failed to elicit any testimony pertinent to what facts would allow Peavy to objectively determine Ford was violating a traffic law in support of his judgment.”
Stoker v. State, 170 S.W.3d 807 (Tex.App.—Tyler, 2005, no pet.).
Because police officer testified that he saw defendant’s vehicle “right up on another” vehicle while traveling at a high rate of speed, such that defendant would not have been able to safely stop his vehicle, officer gave specific, articulable facts to support the reasonable suspicion that defendant had committed a traffic violation so as to justify stop. V.T.C.A., Transportation Code §545.062.
Wallace v. State, No. 06-05-00126-CR 2005 WL 3465515 (Tex.App.—Texarkana Dec 20, 2005) pdr dismissed. (not designated for publication).
Testimony that when the defendant changed lanes, he pulled his vehicle in front of another car and caused the driver of this second car to have to apply the brakes because he was too close coupled with officer testimony that the two vehicles were “[p]robably a car length or less” apart when defendant made the lane change presented clear, concrete facts from which the trial court could determine whether the officer did indeed have “specific, articulable facts,” which when viewed under the totality of the circumstances could lead the officer to reasonably conclude Wallace had violated a traffic law. The Court distinguished these facts from those in the Ford case.
Q. DRIVING UNDER THE POSTED SPEED LIMIT
1. INSUFFICIENT ON THESE FACTS
Texas Dept. Of Public Safety v. Gonzales, 2008 WL 4657528 (Tex.App.—San Antonio, 2008).
At 4:00 a.m. officer observed defendant’s driving 45 mph in a 65 mph zone on a public highway, and that was the sole basis for the stop. The case arose out of an ALR appeal. At the hearing the officer stated he thought at that speed the defendant was “impeding traffic.” He also admitted it was foggy and drizzly and the road was wet. Officer admitted that those conditions might warrant a prudent driver’s slowing down and also could not recall if there was any traffic on the roadway that was actually impeded by the defendant’s slow driving. The officer’s report also mentioned one instance of drifting within his lane. The Court held this was insufficient basis for the stop. In so holding they noted officer did not say he suspected the defendant was intoxicated, and that the slow speed was not clearly in violation of the ordinance that referred to “reasonable and prudent under the conditions” in stating the minimum and maximum speed that should be traveled.
Richardson v. State, 39 S.W.3d 634 (Tex.App.—Amarillo 2000, no pet.).
The Court held that the officer did not have reasonable suspicion to believe that defendant was committing offense of impeding normal and reasonable movement of traffic at time officer made traffic stop. In this case, the defendant was driving approximately 45 miles per hour in what officer believed was 65 mph zone, and defendant increased speed to approximately 57 mph when officer followed him, where road was under construction and speed limit was 55 mph, defendant was in
right lane, and only one vehicle passed defendant while officer followed him. This was the holding despite the officer’s testimony that he thought the slow speed was a sign of intoxication.
2. SUFFICIENT ON THESE FACTS
Moreno v. State, 124 S.W.3d 339, (Tex.App.—Corpus Christi 2003, no pet.).
Police officer’s testimony that defendant was driving 25 mph in 45 mph zone, and that officer observed traffic was backed up behind defendant’s vehicle due to his driving and heavy amount of traffic, in violation of statute prohibiting drivers from driving in manner so as to impede traffic, provided officer with probable cause to stop vehicle.
R. APPROACHING A VEHICLE THAT IS ALREADY STOPPED
Murray v. State, No. 07-13-00356-CR, 2015 WL 6937922 (Tex.App.-Amarillo 2015)
At 1:00 a.m. officer saw Defendant’s vehicle parked parallel to road, partially on improved road and partially in driveway next to closed fireworks stand which had been the location of a previous burglary. Officer parked behind vehicle and walked up to closed car window and knocked and yelled to get Defendant to wake up. He finally got him to awake and encounter led to arrest for DWI. In response to defense argument that this was an illegal stop, Court held this was a voluntary encounter. Even though officer testified the Defendant was not going to be allowed to leave once he approached the car this subjective intent regarding whether he could leave is only relevant when it is in some way communicated to citizen, which was lacking in this case.
Jacob v. State, No. 07-14-00065-CR, 2014 WL 5336487 (Tex.App.—Amarillo 2014).
In response to a call about shots fired from a red Ford Mustang, an officer noticed such a car parked in a closed McDonald's parking lot, pulled into the lot and parked near the Mustang without blocking it and without use of flashing lights or spotlight, and approached the vehicle on foot. When Defendant rolled down the window, the odor of alcohol was detected and a DWI investigation began. The Defense argued it was an illegal stop and the State argued it was an "encounter." The Court found there was insufficient show of authority to make this a stop and found it was an "encounter." The fact that an officer is in uniform and operating a marked vehicle and taps on a car window to get Defendant to roll it down is not a sufficient show of authority to turn this into a detention.
State v. Lyons, No. 05-13-01607-CR, 2014 WL 3778913 (Tex.App.—Dallas 2014).
Officer responded to a call describing a vehicle with two flat tires and a possible intoxicated driver. The Trial Court granted a motion to suppress holding the officer's actions constituted an illegal detention. The Court of Appeals reversed that ruling, finding that the officer's actions constituted an "encounter" and not a "seizure." In doing so the Court focused on the following facts: officer's emergency lights were not activated, he approached Defendant's vehicle which was stopped without his weapon drawn, he never exhibited his weapon, he did not block the Defendant's vehicle, he did not force Defendant out of her car, he did not ask her to exit her car before speaking to her, he never physically touched the Defendant before she exited, he never asked her to roll down her window, and he never spoke to her in a commanding or authoritative voice.
Morris v. State, 2011 WL 1743769 (Tex.App.—Fort Worth 2011).
Identified citizen called in to report defendant's erratic driving and followed defendant as he drove home. Officer arrived at the home, pulled his vehicle into the driveway with lights flashing, blocking defendant from leaving. Officer said he exited his patrol car and either approached defendant or requested that defendant approach him and asked defendant, who appeared to be confused, had slurred speech and smelled of alcohol ,if he had been driving. Defendant, who had keys in his hand, admitted that he had been driving, had been at a bar in Fort Worth, and that he probably should not have driven home. Court found this was a "voluntary encounter" and added that even if it was not, that the officer would have had reasonable suspicion to investigate defendant for DWI.
State v. Woodard, 2011 WL 1261320 (Tex.Crim.App. 2011).
Responding to a call about a car in a ditch and report that the driver was on foot, the officer on a hunch that a pedestrian he saw on foot near the scene might be the driver led to him approaching and engaging the pedestrian in questioning. Based upon that encounter, the officer developed probable cause to believe the pedestrian/defendant was the operator of the vehicle in the ditch and to arrest him for DWI. The defense objected that the officer had no legal basis for approaching and questioning the defendant. The Court held that an officer needs no justification for a consensual encounter, which triggers no constitutional protections.
State v. Murphy, No. 2-06-267-CR, 2007 WL 2405120 (Tex.App.—Fort Worth 2007) (not designated for publication).
This case involved a defendant who accidentally drove his motorcycle down an embankment in a park after hours. The trial judge granted the motion to suppress finding there was no reasonable suspicion or probable cause to stop the defendant. The Appellate Court characterized the officer’s initial contact with the defendant when he helped him get his motorcycle up the embankment as a consensual “encounter.” In overruling the trial judge, the Court found that this encounter escalated into an investigative detention that was supported by reasonable suspicion that the defendant was intoxicated.
State v. Bryant, 161 S.W.3d 758 (Tex.App.—Fort Worth 2005).
Officer saw Defendant turn into the parking lot of a strip shopping center, drive toward the rear of the buildings, turn around, stop between the buildings, and turn off his headlights. Officer drove to where Defendant was parked, got out of his patrol car, approached the Defendant’s car, and knocked on Defendant’s window. Defendant opened his car door. Officer smelled a strong odor of alcohol and noted Defendant had “something all over the front of him” and that his zipper was undone. After conducting an investigation, officer arrested Defendant for DWI. Trial Court suppressed the stop finding the officer had no legal basis to approach vehicle. Court held that police officer was not required to have reasonable suspicion that Defendant was engaged in criminal activity to approach Defendant’s car and knock on his window. Court characterizes everything up to the point where Defendant opened his door as an “encounter’ which is not a seizure for 4th Amendment purposes.
2. NOT AN ENCOUNTER
State v. Carter, No. 2-04-063-CR, 2005 WL 2699219 (Tex.App.—Fort Worth 2005, pdr refused) (not designated for publication).
Officer observed passenger in vehicle throwing up out passenger side of vehicle and decided to investigate passenger’s medical condition. In response to shining of spotlight on defendant’s vehicle, the vehicle pulled over into parking lot and stopped. The officer’s activating strobe lights and getting out of his vehicle and approaching defendant’s vehicle on foot meant the contact was a detention and not an encounter as argued by the State.
3. APPROACHING DEFENDANT OUTSIDE OF AND AWAY FROM VEHICLE = ENCOUNTER
State v. Woodard, 2011 WL 1261320 (Tex.Crim.App. 2011).
Defendant drove his car off the road, left the scene and while walking down the road encountered an officer who asked him if he had been involved in an accident and he said he had. This contact culminated in his arrest for DWI. Defendant argued that the initial encounter and questioning was an illegal seizure but Court held this initial interaction between police officer and defendant on a public sidewalk was a consensual encounter that did not implicate the Fourth Amendment.
S. PLATE OBSCURING STATE SLOGAN AND IMAGES PROVIDES BASIS FOR STOP
State v. Johnson, 219 S.W.3d 386 (Tex.Crim.App.2007).
Police officer had reasonable suspicion that defendant was violating statute governing visibility of license plates and thus was justified in making traffic stop; dealer-installed frame for Texas license plate on defendant’s vehicle entirely covered phrase “THE LONE STAR STATE” and probably covered images of space shuttle and starry night, and phrase and images were all original design elements of license plate. V.T.C.A., Transportation Code § 502.409(a)(7)(B) (2003).
T. DRIVERS LICENSE CHECKPOINT
State v. Luxon, 230 S.W.3d 440 (Tex.App.—Eastland 2007).
The defendant was stopped at a driver’s license checkpoint and subsequently arrested for DWI. The Court of Appeals held the stop was illegal because:
1) operation of roadblock was left to unfettered discretion of officers;
2) officers conducted roadblock without authorization or guidance of a supervisory officer;
3) officers conducted roadblock in absence of any departmental plan of police department.
Thus the operation of the roadblock presented a serious risk of abuse of officers’ discretion and thereby intruded greatly on defendant’s fourth amendment interest in being free from arbitrary and oppressive searches and seizures.
Bohren v. State, 2011 WL 3274039 (Tex.App.—El Paso 2011).
Lujan v. State, 331 S.W.3d 768 (Tex.Crim.App. 2011).
Officers are not required to conduct a license and registration check wearing blinders and ignoring any other violations of the law that they observe, but can still act on what they learn during a checkpoint stop, even if that results in the arrest of the motorist for an offense unrelated to the purpose of the checkpoint. A brief suspicionless stop at a checkpoint is constitutionally permissible if its primary purpose is to confirm drivers' licenses and registration and not general crime control.
Anderson v. State, 2010 WL 3370054 (Tex.App.—Austin 2010).
There was conflicting testimony on whether defendant consented before he fell asleep or passed out at hospital. Trial Court's finding that defendant in fact consented to the blood draw and although he fell asleep and was asleep when the blood was actually drawn, he never withdrew his consent. The Court of Appeals found it was also authorized as unconscious draw under Section 724.011.
U. VEHICLE STOPPED AT LIGHT
Klepper v. State, 2009 WL 384299(Tex.App.—Fort Worth 2009).
The defendant was stopped at an intersection past the stop line. Texas Transportation Code requires the operator of a vehicle facing only a steady red signal to stop at a clearly marked stop line. Texas Transportation Code Ann.§ 544.007(d) (Vernon 2008). Additionally, an operator of a vehicle may not stop, stand, or park in an intersection. Id. § 545.302(a)(3) (Vernon 2008). The defendant argued that the officer failed to articulate in his testimony that he believed this to be a traffic violation. The Court of Appeals reminds us that the subjective intent of the officer making the stop is ignored, and we look solely to whether an objective basis for the stop exists. As it clearly did in this case, the motion to suppress was properly denied.
V. PASSING ON IMPROVED SHOULDER
Lothrop v. State, 2012 WL 1605145 (Tex.Crim.App. 2012).
The sole basis for the stop was that the defendant drove on the improved shoulder to pass a vehicle that had slowed down in front of him. The officer did not testify that the driving was unsafe in any way but felt it violated 549.058(a) of the Transportation Code. The Court of Criminal Appeals found that since it was not demonstrated that the use of the shoulder was dangerous or not necessary, the conduct per that statute was not illegal. Interesting note that the Court gives as an example of what the officer in this situation might say that might rebut the "necessary" wording was that the defendant could have safely passed by using the lane used by oncoming traffic.
W. OBJECTIVE FACTS CAN TRUMP OFFICER’S SUBJECTIVE BELIEF AND SUPPORT STOP
State v. Defranco, No. 02-15-00408, 2016 WL 3960589 (Tex. App. – Fort Worth 2016)
Judge granted motion to suppress based on belief that there was insufficient basis to arrest Defendant for DWi which is basis listed by Officer. In reversing the Court held that there was PC to arrest for various transportation code violations. What officer intended to arrest a Defendant for is irrelevant so long as there is PC to arrest Defendant for something.
Clement v. State, No. PD-0681-15, 2016 WL 4939246 (Tex. Crim. App. 2016)
Responding to dispatch of intoxicated person at gas station driving a described vehicle. Officer found vehicle in motion and saw it was going 62 in a 55 mph zone and stopped it. Officer testified the only basis for stop was speeding but he testified he saw it almost strike the guardrail when it pulled over in response to Officer’s vehicle lights. He also acknowledged he was responding to a possible intoxicated driver call but that this was not part of basis for stop. The Court of Appeals reversed trial Court’s denial of Motion based on Officer’s testimony he had arrested Defendant based only on odor of alcohol on breath. In reversing this holding the Court of Criminal Appeals points out the Officer’s subjective intent is not relevant to a PC challenge when there are objective factors that support PC.
Meadows v. State, 356 S.W.3d 33 (Tex.App.-Texarkana 2011, no pet.).
Officer had objectively reasonable suspicion that road traversed by defendant without stopping was private drive, such that defendant’s failure to stop constituted traffic offense. This was true despite conflicting evidence as to public or private nature of road. The officer’s suspicion was reasonable in spite of the brief interval during which officer was out of visual contact with defendant’s vehicle as this time was not long enough for defendant to have stopped and then started moving again. The Court of Appeals reminds us that the standard of proof for the existence of traffic offense is preponderance of the evidence, not beyond a reasonable doubt.
Mahaffey v. State, 364 S.W.3d 908 (Tex.Crim.App. 2012).
Officer stopped defendant based on his belief that where there was a sign on the freeway indicating drivers should merge left, the driver is supposed to turn on his signal. The Court of Criminals Appeals reversed the Court of Appeals’ finding that his failure to use turn signal was a traffic violation by holding it was not. On remand the Court of Appeals upheld the stop even though the basis was wrong, finding it reasonable based on the language of the statue for the officer to believe what he observed was a traffic violation. The Court of Criminal Appeals once again accepted PDR on this case and reversed the Court of Appeals again holding that no turn signal is required when two lanes become one.
Kessler v. State, 2010 WL 1137047 (Tex.App.-Fort Worth 2010) (Not designated for publication).
Officer observed defendant abruptly swerved to the left to avoid a curb, failed to drive the car within a single lane of traffic, and moved "the majority of the vehicle" into a designated left-turn lane while continuing to drive straight. Officer Goodman testified that based on his experience, narrowly avoiding a curb with such a quick movement and failing to remain in a single lane were signs of possible intoxication. He noticed the driving occurred shortly after 2:00 a.m., when local bars closed, which also supported the stop. This was found to provide proper basis for stop even though officer's subjective belief that a traffic violation was committed was wrong.
Reed v. State, 2010 WL 851424 (Tex.App.-Fort Worth 2010) (Not designated for publication).
Even though trial court found the officer's belief that two traffic violations were committed was erroneous, the officer still had reasonable suspicion to stop defendant for suspected DWI based on the other reasons stated for the stop; namely, he had suspected that she might be intoxicated based on time of day, area of city that she had been coming from, and his experience with intoxicated drivers exhibiting similar characteristics of driving.
Hughes v. State, 2008 WL 4938278 (Tex.App.—Fort Worth 2008, pet.ref’d).
The officer testified that the traffic stop in this DWI case was based on his mistaken subjective belief that defendant had committed a traffic violation (failure to maintain a single lane). In upholding the stop, the Court holds that the stop was supported by the officer’s observation and testimony concerning specific driving behavior that was consistent with DWI. Specifically he noted the defendant was driving well below the posted speed limit, slower than other vehicles on the roadway, and was on the road around 2:00 a.m. when bars are closing and was having trouble maintaining a single lane of traffic.
Singleton v. State, 91 S.W.3d 342 (Tex.App.—Texarkana, 2002).
Officer’s basis for stop was that the defendant squealed his tires as he made a turn which he thought at the time was a traffic offense but is not. Though he testified he did not stop the defendant for driving unsafely, he did state the defendant made the turn in an unsafe manner. This was held to be sufficient to sustain the stop even though it was not the reason he had articulated.
X. REVVING ENGINE AND LURCHING FORWARD SUFFICIENT BASIS FOR STOP
Foster v. State, 326 S.W.3d 309 (Tex.Crim.App. 2010).
Defendant drove up to the officer's unmarked vehicle and stopped extremely close to the vehicle at a traffic light. Officer then heard a revving sound from defendant's engine and observed defendant's truck make two forward lurching movements and based on this, the officer stopped the defendant for investigation of DWI. Given that nothing indicated that defendant was out of control when he stopped or that he was otherwise driving recklessly, the Court held that the officer did not have a reasonable suspicion that defendant had committed a traffic violation and found the stop should have been suppressed. Court of Appeals applied wrong standard. Stop supported by reasonable suspicion.
Y. DRIVING LEFT OF CENTER ON UNDIVIDED ROAD WITHOUT CENTER STRIPE
State v. Evans, 2010 WL 1255819 (Tex.App.—Texarkana 2010).
Officer saw the defendant driving left of center of the roadway for an eighth to a quarter of a mile, and the road was an undivided, two-lane road without a center stripe. There was no other traffic on the road and said observation resulted in traffic stop. Trial Court focusing on the lack of evidence that it was unsafe for defendant to drive in that manner granted a motion to suppress. The Appellate Court reversed holding there was reasonable suspicion that a traffic violation was in progress and that none of the statutory exceptions to the requirement to drive on the right half of the roadway were applicable.
Z. BASED ON RUNNING VEHICLE FOR INSURANCE ON COMPUTER
1. NOT VALID
Gonzales-Gilando v. State, 306 S.W.3d 893 (Tex.App.-Amarillo 2010, pet ref’d)
Officer based stop on result from his patrol car’s computer database that showed that insurance information was “not available” or “undocumented” which led officer to believe that car did not have insurance. There was no further testimony developed to show the belief was reasonable such as what the database terms meant or that database was accurate. Stop was found to be illegal.
Contraras v. State, 309 S.W.3d 168 (Tex.App.- Amarillo 2010, pet ref’d)
Stop was based on terminal saying insurance information was “unavailable” or “undocumented” without further explanation as to why that supported officer’s belief that car did not have insurance and included testimony from officer that this could mean that terms could mean either driver could have insurance or may not have insurance was insufficient to justify the stop.
State v. Daniel, 446 S.W.3d 809 (Tex.App.-San Antonio 2014)
At a motion to suppress hearing that was based on stipulated testimony it was stipulated that the Police officer stopped Defendant based on dispatch response that the vehicle he was driving had “unconfirmed insurance”. This information was provided by way of the Financial Responsibility Verification Program. The trial court found that this was insufficient to establish a violation under Texas Transportation Code Sec.601.051.
Oliva-Arita v. State, No. 01-15-00140-CR, 2015 WL 7300202 (Tex. App.-Houston (1st Dist) 2015.
Traffic stop based on patrol car terminal showing insurance status was “unconfirmed”. In upholding the stop the Court of Appeals distinguished this case from contrary authority on the fact that the Officer’s testimony in this case developed what the term meant and his experience with the use of the terminal and its accuracy and that in 75% of prior stops the term “unconfirmed” meant the driver had no insurance.
Crawford v. State, 355 S.W.3d 193 (Tex.App. – Houston (1st Houston) 2011, pet ref’d)
Officer entered Defendant’s vehicle license plate on MDT which identified the last insurance company that issued a policy on the vehicle, policy number, and showed policy expired 45 days before. In attacking stop Defendant points out that Texas law does not require a person to have liability insurance in they have established financial responsibility by some other means and cites Appellate cases saying reliance on terminal is insufficient. Distinguishing this case it was pointed out more details were revealed by the MDT then were present in those cases.
Tellez v. State, No. 09-10-00348-CR, 2011 WL 3925627 (Tex.App.- Beaumont, 2011)
Officer testified he was following his usual practice when he randomly ran Defendant’s vehicles license plate in the “Spillman” database which checks NCIC/TCIC and insurance. Officer said he receives a status of “confirmed” or “unconfirmed” from data base and that “confirmed” means insurance policy is valid and “unconfirmed” means expired or “no insurance” or that database in no way able to verify whether or not there is insurance. In this case it came back “unconfirmed” and was followed by license plate check that showed insurance was expired. In holding this was sufficient the Court distinguished from contrary Appellate holdings by stating this record shows officer’s suspicion of “no insurance” was reasonable based on his explanation of the meaning of “confirmed” and “unconfirmed” and his belief that the database is very accurate (though he did not know how often system information is updated).