Opinion No. 49
from the District Court of the Second Judicial District,
State of Idaho, Latah County. Hon. John R. Stegner, District
Judge. Hon. John C. Judge, Magistrate.
of the district court, on intermediate appeal from the
magistrate's order granting a motion to suppress,
Lawrence G. Wasden, Attorney General; Mark W. Olson, Deputy
Attorney General, Boise, for appellant. Mark W. Olson argued.
McCormick Law Office; Deborah L. McCormick, Moscow, for
respondent. Deborah L. McCormick argued.
State appeals from the district court's appellate
decision affirming the magistrate's order granting Ivan
Drake Pettit's motion to suppress evidence obtained
during a driving under the influence investigation. The State
argues: (1) there was not substantial and competent evidence
to support the magistrate's finding that Pettit was not
required by statute to use a turn signal at the intersection
at issue; (2) alternatively, the statute is not
unconstitutionally vague as applied to Pettit's maneuver
and even if it were, suppression is not the appropriate
remedy; and (3) alternatively, the officer's mistake of
law is objectively reasonable and constitutes a good faith
exception to the warrant requirement. The district
court's decision on appeal affirming the magistrate's
order granting Pettit's motion to suppress is affirmed.
AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
20, 2015, an officer stopped a car driven by Pettit for
failure to use a right turn signal at an intersection. When
approaching the intersection while southbound, motorists
choose from three adjacent lanes of travel: the leftmost lane
which allows motorists to continue straight through the
intersection to State Highway 8 East or to turn left to
either Highway 95 North or Highway 8 North and the center and
rightmost lanes which guide motorists to curve right and
continue on Highway 95 South. The intersection's signage
designates these options, with one straight- or left-turn
sign and two right-turn-only signs. The signs are accompanied
by traffic lights, which for the right-turn-only signs,
display either red, yellow, or green arrows, indicating when
it is appropriate to proceed through the intersection. Before
reaching the intersection, motorists are confronted with at
least two signs on the right side of the road that designate
Highway 95 South to be on the right and Highway 8 East to be
straight ahead. At some point north of the intersection,
Highway 95 South is designated as South Jackson Street.
was traveling on Highway 95 South and approached the
intersection in the center lane. He was faced with a green
arrow, which indicated to curve right through the
intersection. Pettit remained in the center lane and, without
using a right turn signal, curved right through the
intersection. Because Pettit did not use a right turn signal,
the officer stopped Pettit's vehicle. As a result of the
stop, the officer obtained evidence which resulted in Pettit
being charged with driving under the influence of alcohol
(second offense) and driving without privileges.
pleaded not guilty to both charges and moved to suppress the
evidence the officer obtained, arguing that a turn signal was
not required at the intersection and, thus, the officer did
not have reasonable suspicion to stop Pettit's vehicle.
The magistrate granted Pettit's motion to suppress,
finding: (1) Idaho Code § 49-808(1) unambiguously did
not require Pettit to use a right turn signal and, thus, the
officer did not have reasonable suspicion to stop
Pettit's vehicle; (2) the officer's mistake of law
was not reasonable because the statute is unambiguous; and
(3)alternatively, the statute is unconstitutionally vague.
The State appealed the magistrate's decision to the
district court which affirmed the magistrate's decision
on the same grounds, but declined to address whether the
statute was unconstitutionally vague. The State timely
appeals to this Court.