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State v. Cook

Court of Appeals of Idaho

August 2, 2018

STATE OF IDAHO, Plaintiff-Respondent,
v.
NICOLE SAMANTHA COOK, Defendant-Appellant.

          Appeal from the District Court of the First Judicial District, State of Idaho, Kootenai County. Hon. Richard S. Christensen, District Judge.

         Judgment of conviction for possession of a controlled substance, affirmed.

          Eric D. Fredericksen, State Appellate Public Defender; Jenevieve C. Swinford, Deputy Appellate Public Defender, Boise, for appellant.

          Hon. Lawrence G. Wasden, Attorney General; Theodore S. Tollefson, Deputy Attorney General, Boise, for respondent.

          GUTIERREZ, Judge.

         Nicole Samantha Cook appeals from her judgment of conviction for possession of a controlled substance. Cook asserts that the district court erred by denying her motion to suppress because the officer lacked reasonable suspicion for the traffic stop for driving an unregistered vehicle once the officer viewed Cook's properly displayed temporary permit. Alternatively, Cook argues the statute requiring the display of temporary permits is unconstitutionally vague. For the following reasons, we affirm.

         I.

         FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         Just after midnight, an officer spotted a white vehicle that did not have a front license plate. As the officer passed the vehicle, he looked in his rearview mirror and could not see a rear license plate either. The officer turned his patrol car around and came up behind the vehicle, activating his emergency lights. It was not until the officer was almost stopped that he observed the temporary registration in the window. The officer testified that he could not, at that point, read the temporary registration. The officer was finally able to read the registration, which was found to be valid, after he wiped off a heavy condensation that had accumulated on the outside of the window. The officer testified that it had been raining earlier that evening and that there was possibly a drizzle at the time the stop was initiated. In his probable cause affidavit, the officer explained that he proceeded to search the vehicle, which was being driven by Cook, based on detection of the odor of marijuana and Cook's admission that her friends had smoked marijuana in the vehicle earlier that evening. The officer found heroin and methamphetamine during the search and then discovered more methamphetamine, four unopened Suboxone strips, and drug paraphernalia on Cook's person.

         The State charged Cook with three counts of possession of a controlled substance and one count of possession of paraphernalia. Cook moved to suppress the evidence found pursuant to the stop, arguing that the officer lacked reasonable suspicion to stop the vehicle for briefly crossing over the fog line and for continuing the stop once he was able to read the temporary permit. The district court held a hearing on the motion to suppress and ruled that the officer did not have reasonable suspicion to initiate the stop due to Cook crossing over the fog line, but did have reasonable suspicion to conduct the traffic stop due to Cook's temporary registration not being "readily legible" as required by Idaho Code § 49-432(4). Cook then moved the district court to reconsider its ruling on Cook's motion to suppress, arguing that the district court did not sufficiently address Cook's void for vagueness argument regarding the "readily legible" language in I.C. § 49-432(4). After the district court denied Cook's motion for reconsideration, Cook entered a conditional guilty plea to felony possession of a controlled substance, methamphetamine. The district court entered a withheld judgment and placed Cook on supervised probation for a period of two years. Cook timely appealed.

         II.

         STANDARD OF REVIEW

         The standard of review of a suppression motion is bifurcated. When a decision on a motion to suppress is challenged, we accept the trial court's findings of fact that are supported by substantial evidence, but we freely review the application of constitutional principles to the facts as found. State v. Atkinson, 128 Idaho 559, 561, 916 P.2d 1284, 1286 (Ct. App. 1996). At a suppression hearing, the power to assess the credibility of witnesses, resolve factual conflicts, weigh evidence, and draw factual inferences is vested in the trial ...


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