from the District Court of the First Judicial District of the
State of Idaho, Kootenai County. Richard S. Christensen,
order of the district court denying defendant's motion to
suppress is reversed; the judgment of conviction is
vacated and remanded.
Appellate Public Defender's Office, Boise, for appellant,
Samantha Nicole Cook. Jenny Swinford argued.
Attorney General's Office, Boise, for respondent, the
State of Idaho. Ted Tollefson argued.
appeal is brought by Samantha Cook (Cook) as a result of the
denial of her motion to suppress evidence. Cook was pulled
over by a police officer after the officer noticed her
vehicle lacked both front and rear license plates. As the
vehicles slowed to pull over, the officer noticed a piece of
paper in the rear window of Cook's car. Upon approaching
the pulled-over vehicle, the officer noticed that the piece
of paper was a temporary registration permit, which was
unreadable due to condensation from rain earlier in the
evening. The officer then spoke with Cook, detected the smell
of marijuana, searched her vehicle, located controlled
substances, and arrested her.
filed a motion to suppress the evidence obtained during the
stop on the grounds that the officer lacked probable cause to
stop her vehicle. The district court denied Cook's
motion. The district court found, based on State v.
Kinch, 159 Idaho 96, 356 P.3d 389 (Ct. App. 2015), that
reasonable suspicion existed that Cook had violated Idaho
Code section 49-432(4), which requires a driver to display a
permit "upon the windshield of each vehicle or in
another prominent place where it may be readily
legible." As a result, the district court found the
seizure legal and the evidence obtained after the seizure
properly obtained. The Court of Appeals affirmed. This Court
granted Cook's petition for review.
appeal, Cook argues, among other things, that the district
court erred in denying her motion to suppress because Idaho
Code section 49-432(4) is unconstitutionally vague as applied
to her conduct. For the reasons set forth in this opinion, we
conclude the statute is unconstitutionally vague. We reverse
the district court's denial of Cook's motion to
suppress; we vacate Cook's conviction and remand for
FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
October 29, 2016, shortly after midnight, a Kootenai County
Sheriff's Deputy, Ryan Jacobson (Jacobson), was traveling
westbound in his patrol vehicle on Highway 53 in rural
Kootenai County. It had been raining that evening. As
Jacobson drove past Cook, he noticed that her car lacked a
front license plate. He did not see a temporary permit
displayed as he passed the car. Once Jacobson passed
Cook's vehicle, he looked in his rearview mirror and
noticed that the vehicle also lacked a rear license plate.
Jacobson then turned around in order to investigate
following Cook, Jacobson was unable to see either a rear
license plate or a temporary permit. Jacobson also believed
he witnessed Cook's vehicle drive over the right-hand fog
line. Jacobson activated his emergency lights.
As the vehicles pulled over and were nearly stopped, Jacobson
observed a piece of paper displayed in the rear window of
Cook's vehicle. It was difficult to see due to heavy
condensation in Cook's rear window.
both vehicles were stopped, Jacobson walked towards
Cook's vehicle and only then recognized that the piece of
paper in the window was in fact a temporary registration
permit. Despite being right next to the temporary permit,
Jacobson still could not read the expiration date. Jacobson
then contacted Cook, the sole occupant of the vehicle, in
order to obtain information from her. Once he collected
Cook's information, Jacobson walked back to his patrol
vehicle but first stopped again at the rear window to examine
the temporary permit more closely. Jacobson had to wipe the
condensation off of the rear window in order to read the
expiration date. Only then was Jacobson able to determine the
piece of paper was a valid temporary permit.
returned Cook's information to her but asked her to step
out of the vehicle and speak with him. Cook obliged. At some
point while speaking with Cook, Jacobson noticed that Cook
was unusually nervous. More importantly, he had also detected
the odor of marijuana. Upon questioning, Cook admitted that
others had smoked marijuana in her vehicle earlier that
evening. Jacobson then searched the car based on the odor and
Cook's admission. He found both heroin and
methamphetamine. Cook was arrested and more contraband was
found on her person, including another controlled substance,
filed a motion to suppress, arguing that Jacobson did not
have reasonable suspicion to stop her car. The district court
held a hearing on Cook's motion. Jacobson was the only
witness. The district court later announced its oral decision
denying the motion to suppress. The district court reasoned
that Cook's temporary registration, although properly
posted, was not readily legible as required by Idaho Code
section 49-432(4); therefore, ...