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State v. Williams

Court of Appeals of Oregon

May 1, 2019

STATE OF OREGON, Plaintiff-Respondent,
v.
ALBERT NEWELL WILLIAMS, aka Albert Lnewell Williams, Jr., Defendant-Appellant.

          Argued and Submitted November 21, 2017

          Multnomah County Circuit Court 15CR03864 Gregory F. Silver, Judge.

          Anna Belais, Deputy Public Defender, argued the cause for appellant. Also on the brief was Ernest G. Lannet, Chief Defender, Criminal Appellate Section, Offce of Public Defense Services.

          David B. Thompson, Assistant Attorney General, argued the cause for respondent. Also on the brief were Ellen F. Rosenblum, Attorney General, and Benjamin Gutman, Solicitor General.

          Before Ortega, Presiding Judge, and Egan, Chief Judge, and Powers, Judge. [*]

         Case Summary: Defendant appeals from a judgment of conviction for possession of methamphetamine, ORS 475.894(1), asserting that the trial court erred by denying his motion to suppress. Defendant argues that, after the stopping officer developed reasonable suspicion that he had committed the crime of driving while under the influence of intoxicants (DUII), the officer unlawfully extended the stop by asking him whether he had alcohol or drugs in the car and by requesting consent to search his vehicle. Held: Because the presence of alcohol or a controlled substance in a vehicle is relevant evidence of the crime of driving under the influence of intoxicants, questions regarding defendant's possession of alcohol and controlled substances were reasonably related to the DUII investigation. Accordingly, the trial court did not err in denying defendant's motion to suppress.

         [297 Or.App. 385] POWERS, J.

         Defendant appeals from a judgment of conviction for possession of methamphetamine, ORS 475.894(1), asserting that the trial court erred by denying his motion to suppress. Defendant argues that, after the officer who stopped him developed reasonable suspicion that he had committed the crime of driving while under the influence of intoxicants (DUII), the officer unlawfully extended the stop by asking him whether he had alcohol or drugs in the car and by requesting consent to search his vehicle. As explained below, because there was a reasonable, circumstance-specific relationship between the officer's questions and the purpose of the stop, the trial court did not err in denying defendant's motion to suppress.

         We review the denial of a motion to suppress for legal error, and we are bound by the trial court's findings of fact so long as they are supported by constitutionally sufficient evidence in the record. State v. Maciel-Figueroa, 361 Or. 163, 165-66, 389 P.3d 1123 (2017). Where the trial court did not make express findings and there is evidence in the record from which a fact could have been decided in more than one way, we will presume that the court decided the facts in a manner consistent with its ultimate conclusion. Id. at 166; see also Ball v. Gladden, 250 Or. 485, 487, 443 P.2d 621 (1968). We describe the facts consistently with that standard.

         Port of Portland Police Officer McKay stopped defendant after observing multiple traffic violations and, upon contact, noticed that he had a sweaty, "beet red" face, and very watery eyes. Based on defendant's appearance, that he had a "hard time answering simple questions," and "just seemed kind of like he wasn't sure what was going on," McKay believed that defendant was under the influence of "some type of intoxicant." McKay asked defendant if he had been drinking that day or taking any medications, and defendant replied that he had just woken up from napping in his car and that he works long hours. McKay then asked defendant if he had any alcohol or controlled substances with him or in the car, and defendant replied that he was "not sure." McKay then asked if defendant minded if he checked. [297 Or.App. 386] Defendant "paused for a second, looked down, and said 'I'm not sure. I don't know what I have.'" McKay followed up by asking if defendant minded if he took a "quick look," and, without verbally responding, defendant picked up a jacket from the passenger seat and said, "I don't think I have anything." Under the jacket, McKay saw a clear glass pipe with white residue. McKay told defendant that "it looked like a meth pipe," to which defendant nodded affirmatively.

         At that point, McKay read defendant his Miranda rights and then asked him if there were additional drugs in the car. Defendant replied that "there may be." McKay then asked defendant to exit the vehicle and placed him under arrest and in handcuffs. McKay searched defendant's car and found two toiletry cases that contained methamphetamine and associated paraphernalia on the floor behind the passenger seat. Defendant was cited for the traffic infractions and transported to jail for possession of methamphetamine.

         Before trial, defendant filed a motion to suppress, arguing that McKay unlawfully extended the duration of the traffic stop when he asked defendant for consent to search his vehicle without reasonable suspicion, in violation of Article I, Section 9, of the Oregon Constitution. The state responded that McKay had reasonable suspicion that defendant was driving under the influence of intoxicants, and, accordingly, the request to search defendant's car was constitutionally permissable.

         After testimony from McKay and defendant, as well as the parties' arguments, the court found McKay credible and denied the suppression motion. Subsequently, defendant was convicted of possession of methamphetamine in a bench trial.

         Article I, section 9, establishes the right of the people to be free from unreasonable searches or seizures. A stop is a "temporary restraint of a person's liberty for the purpose of criminal investigation" and is a type of seizure. State v. Rodgers I Kirkeby,347 Or. 610, 621, 227 P.3d 695 (2010). Law enforcement officers have the authority to perform traffic stops based on reasonable suspicion of criminal activity or probable cause for noncriminal traffic infractions. Id. at 621-23. That authority to detain a motorist, however, dissipates [297 Or.App. 387] "when the investigation reasonably related to that traffic infraction, the identification of persons, and the issuance of a citation (if any) is completed or reasonably should be completed." Id. at 623. Any additional questioning or further conduct ...


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