Opinion No. 41
from the District Court of the First Judicial District of the
State of Idaho, Kootenai County. Hon. Lansing L. Haynes,
decision of the district court is affirmed.
Honorable Lawrence G. Wasden, Idaho Attorney General, Boise,
for appellant. Kenneth K. Jorgensen argued.
D. Fredericksen, State Appellate Public Defender, Boise, for
respondent. Sally J. Cooley argued.
BURDICK, Chief Justice.
appeal, the State challenges the Kootenai County district
court's decision to grant Antonia Kate Fuller's
motion to suppress evidence seized during a traffic stop.
Because we conclude the traffic stop was unconstitutional, we
affirm the district court's order suppressing the
FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
December 6, 2015, Deputy Harvey Ballman of the Kootenai
County Sheriff's Department was patrolling the area near
the intersection of Highways 95 and 53 in Kootenai County. At
approximately 10:50 p.m., Deputy Ballman was traveling
westbound on Highway 53 when he observed a vehicle, driven by
Fuller, traveling a few car lengths in front of him. As
Deputy Ballman followed Fuller, the roadway began to make a
right-hand curve. When Fuller continued on the roadway and
drove her vehicle around the right-hand curve, Deputy Ballman
observed the front passenger-side tire of Fuller's
vehicle drive onto and temporarily across the solid white
line on the right-hand side of the roadway (i.e., the fog
line). Deputy Ballman then initiated a traffic stop, citing
Fuller's failure to maintain her lane of travel as
required under Idaho Code section 49-637(1).
the traffic stop, Deputy Ballman discovered that Fuller did
not have a valid driver's license or liability insurance.
Deputy Ballman placed Fuller under arrest for violations of
Idaho Code sections 49-301(1) and 49-1232 before conducting
an inventory search of her vehicle. That search revealed
methamphetamine, prescription drugs, and drug paraphernalia.
Accordingly, he expanded the arrest for violations of Idaho
Code sections 37-2732(c)(1) (possession of a controlled
substance) and 37-2734A (possession with intent to use drug
paraphernalia). Fuller was never cited for a traffic offense.
preliminary hearing was held on January 28, 2016, at which
Deputy Ballman testified that he observed Fuller's tire
"touch the [fog] line multiple times and cross the
[fog] line." He explained that he initiated the traffic
stop due to Fuller's failure to maintain her lane of
travel under section 49-637(1) when her tire crossed the fog
line. Fuller was thereafter charged with two
felony counts of possession of a controlled substance, and
misdemeanor counts of possession of drug paraphernalia,
failure to purchase a driver's license, and failure to
provide proof of insurance.
moved to suppress the seized evidence on the grounds that it
was fruits of an unlawful traffic stop in violation of the
United States and Idaho Constitutions. During a hearing on
the motion, the parties stipulated that the front
passenger-side tire of Fuller's vehicle crossed the fog
line once and that she did not have her turn signal on at the
time. Although the district court accepted the parties'
stipulation, the district court reviewed a dashboard camera
video recording from Deputy Ballman and explained as follows:
I have to say that I'm balancing that against the
Court's observations of the dash-cam. I could not exactly
tell whether there was a complete crossing of that fog line.
I mean, it looked pretty close, but whether, you know, some
of the tire remained touching the fog line or not, the tires,
I was just unsure, but it was pretty close to crossing the
considering the parties' arguments, the district court
ultimately concluded Deputy Ballman did not have a
reasonable, articulable suspicion that section 49-637(1) was
violated. The district court thus granted Fuller's motion
to suppress. The State now appeals.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
apply a bifurcated standard when reviewing a motion to
suppress. State v. Danney, 153 Idaho 405, 408, 283
P.3d 722, 725 (2012). The trial court's findings of fact
are accepted if supported by substantial and competent
evidence. Id. Conversely, we will freely review the
application of constitutional principles to the factual
Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, as incorporated
under the Fourteenth Amendment's due process clause so as
to apply to the states, guarantees that "[t]he right of
the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and
effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall
not be violated." U.S. Const. amend. IV; see
also Idaho Const. art. I, § 17. "Traffic stops
constitute seizures under the Fourth Amendment."
State v. Henage, 143 Idaho 655, 658, 152 P.3d 16, 19
(2007) (citing Delaware v. Prouse, 440 U.S. 648, 653
(1979)). Yet, "[l]imited investigatory detentions are
permissible when justified by an officer's reasonable
articulable suspicion that a person has committed, or is
about to commit, a crime." State v. Morgan, 154
Idaho 109, 112, 294 P.3d 1121, 1124 (2013). As such, two
possible justifications for a traffic stop exist: (1) the
officer has a reasonable, articulable suspicion that the
driver has committed an offense, such as ...