Opinion No. 34
from the District Court of the Fifth Judicial District of the
State of Idaho, Jerome County. Hon. Robert J. Elgee, District
district court's order granting Garcia-Rodriguez's
motion to suppress is affirmed.
Lawrence G. Wasden, Attorney General, Boise, for appellant.
Kenneth K. Jorgensen argued.
Fredericksen, State Appellate Public Defender, Boise, for
respondent. Maya Waldron argued.
State of Idaho appeals from the district court's order
suppressing evidence against Victor Garcia-Rodriguez. On
April 10, 2014, Garcia-Rodriguez was pulled over after an
Idaho State Police trooper witnessed Garcia-Rodriguez's
car briefly cross over the fog line while exiting Interstate
84. This stop ultimately led to Garcia-Rodriguez's
arrest. A search incident to arrest uncovered methamphetamine
on his person, and Garcia-Rodriguez was charged with
trafficking in methamphetamine and possession of
paraphernalia. Garcia-Rodriguez filed a motion to suppress
the evidence, which the district court granted. We affirm.
FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
early afternoon of April 10, 2014, Idaho State Police Trooper
Steve Otto encountered Garcia-Rodriguez as both were driving
eastbound on Interstate 84 near milepost 168, south of
Jerome. Garcia-Rodriguez exited the interstate. As he did so,
Otto noticed the right tires of Garcia-Rodriguez's car
briefly cross over the right fog line of the exit ramp.
Garcia-Rodriguez then activated his turn signals. Initially,
he signaled a right hand turn before turning on his left hand
blinkers. Garcia-Rodriguez turned left off of the exit ramp
and onto Lincoln Avenue. Otto testified that he was concerned
that Garcia-Rodriguez was impaired or having vehicle issues.
Otto followed Garcia-Rodriguez as he traveled down Lincoln
toward a Shell gas station. After Garcia-Rodriguez signaled
his indication to turn into the gas station, Otto turned on
his overhead lights and made a traffic stop.
pulled into a parking spot at the gas station, and Otto
parked directly behind him. Otto observed a Hertz rental
sicker as he approached Garcia-Rodriguez's car and thus
knew that it was a rental car. After Otto made contact with
Garcia-Rodriguez, it became immediately apparent that there
was a language barrier. Otto told Garcia-Rodriquez he stopped
him for driving over the fog line and asked him for
identification. Garcia-Rodriguez presented a Mexican consular
identification card with a Gooding address. Otto began
questioning Garcia-Rodriguez about the car and insurance. He
eventually asked Garcia-Rodriguez to exit the car because he
felt Garcia-Rodriguez was acting nervous and avoiding the
center console while searching for the papers Otto had
asked Garcia-Rodriguez to empty his pockets, and
Garcia-Rodriguez took out a cell phone, wallet and a set of
keys. Otto called for a Spanish-speaking officer and ran
checks on Garcia-Rodriguez, but those checks did not return
any information. Otto did not attempt to determine if
Garcia-Rodriguez had ever previously failed to appear for a
court appearance. Otto located someone to translate and asked
Garcia-Rodriguez for consent to search his vehicle, which
Garcia-Rodriguez gave. Otto searched the center console and
found approximately $10, 000 in cash inside of a shaving kit.
Otto then placed Garcia-Rodriguez in handcuffs and placed him
in the patrol car, but stated that Garcia-Rodriguez was not
under arrest. Soon after, four more officers arrived on the
scene and began to discuss how to search the vehicle because
Garcia-Rodriguez's consent was no longer valid.
a Spanish-speaking trooper arrived and, approximately 45
minutes after the traffic stop, advised Garcia-Rodriguez of
his Miranda rights and began asking him questions
about the money. Otto got his drug dog out of his patrol car
and walked the dog around Garcia-Rodriguez's car. Otto
stated that his dog alerted but it was "really weak,
" and no drugs were subsequently located in
Garcia-Rodriguez's car. Approximately 75 minutes after
the stop, Otto arrested Garcia-Rodriguez for failure to
purchase a driver's license. Otto conducted a search
incident to arrest and found methamphetamine in
Garcia-Rodriguez's front pants pocket.
April 11, 2014, the State charged Garcia-Rodriguez with
methamphetamine trafficking and possession of paraphernalia.
On June 10, 2014, Garcia-Rodriguez filed a motion to suppress
all evidence against him. The district court granted the
motion, concluding that the initial stop, the continued
detention and the eventual arrest were all unlawful. The
State timely appealed. The Court of Appeals reversed the
decision of the district court. We then granted
Garcia-Rodriguez's petition for review.