The defendant was charged with DWI. The trial court granted his motion to suppress evidence from the traffic stop, finding there was no reasonable suspicion for the stop. The Court of Appeals reversed the trial court based on a DVD recording of the stop. The Court of Criminal Appeals reversed the Court of Appeals and reinstated the trial court’s decision granting the motion to suppress.
The officer was en route to a domestic call at a speed of over 60 miles per hour in a 45-mile-per-hour zone when he saw the defendant approaching from the opposite direction, make a left turn in front of officer, causing officer to brake. The officer turned right to follow the defendant. The DVD recording showed that the defendant’s tire swung slightly across the center line. The officer’s report stated that he stopped the defendant for failing to yield the right of way; however, the officer was mistaken in believing that he had the right of way: because he was speeding, he did not.
The issue presented to the trial court was therefore a factual issue: Did the officer actually see the center line violation shown in the DVD? The trial court decided that he did not, because that violation was not mentioned in the report, and it was too minor to cause officer to abandon his domestic call and was not visible before he abandoned the domestic call. The Court of Criminal Appeals held that the appellate courts were required to defer to that determination of fact. The totality of the trial judge’s findings supported its reasonable conclusion that officer did not see the center stripe violation.
Accordingly, the evidence was suppressed and the defendant was not convicted of DWI.
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