Submitted: October 17, 2017
Defendant Benjamin Baffone's Motion to Suppress.
William L. Raisis, Esquire, Deputy Attorney General,
Department of Justice, Wilmington, Delaware, Attorney for the
State of Delaware.
Hession, Esquire, Wilmington, Delaware, Attorney for
L. SCOTT, JR. JUDGE.
April 21, 2017 Defendant was driving a vehicle eastbound on
Route 2 in Wilmington, Delaware. At approximately 11:00 p.m.,
Corporal Ripple of the Delaware State Police was driving
eastbound on Route 2 behind Defendant's vehicle. Corporal
Ripple testified that he followed and observed
Defendant's vehicle and he saw Defendant's vehicle
swerve twice. After observing this, Corporal Ripple activated
his MVR. The MVR shows Defendant's car driving in front
of Corporal Ripple's patrol vehicle, and Defendant's
vehicle weaves within the lane. Corporal Ripple continued to
follow Defendant and saw Defendant's vehicle almost
collide with another vehicle as Defendant changed lanes. In
addition, Corporal Ripple observed Defendant's vehicle
cross the right fog line after he made the lane change. This
is evidenced on the MVR at approximately 0:27 to 0:42
seconds. Additionally, Corporal Ripple testified that
Defendant did not use his turn signal the required 300 feet
before turning into the McDonald's parking lot, which was
depicted in the MVR at approximately 0:46 seconds.
Subsequently, Corporal Ripple stopped Defendant in the
McDonald's parking lot.
only issue on this Motion is the legality of the stop. The
Fourth Amendment to the United States constitution
"guarantees 'the right of the people to be secure in
their persons, houses, papers and effects, against
unreasonable searches and seizures'."
When law enforcement directs a driver to stop her car, the
State has "seized" the car and its occupants, and
the protections of the Fourth Amendment apply. But it is only
those searches and seizures that are "unreasonable"
that run afoul of the Fourth Amendment. In the traffic stop
context, under established law since Terry v. Ohio,
a seizure is reasonable when a law enforcement officer
conducts a brief investigatory traffic stop based on
reasonable and articulable suspicion of criminal
traffic stop context, "[reasonable articulable suspicion
of criminal activity includes not just traffic offenses, but
criminal activity such as drunk driving." The court looks
at the "reasonableness of the officer's suspicion of
criminal activity, " and the facts are "judged
against an objective standard: would the facts available to
the officer at the moment of the seizure or the search
warrant a [person] of reasonable caution in the belief that
the action taken was appropriate?" However, under
Delaware law "the court can also 'combin[e]
objective facts with such an officer's subjective
interpretation of those facts'." To determine if
there was reasonable articulable suspicion of criminal
activity, the court looks at the totality of the
circumstances and "the factual and practical
considerations of everyday life on which reasonable and
prudent [people], not legal technicians,
Ripple had reasonable articulable suspicion that Defendant
was driving under the influence. "Although weaving
within a lane by itself may be insufficient to establish
reasonable suspicion of impaired driving,
" Corporal Ripple observed Defendant's
vehicle swerve twice before his MVR started recording.
Additionally, as shown in the MVR and through Corporal
Ripple's testimony, Defendant and another vehicle came
close to colliding when Defendant executed a lane change.
After completing the lane change Defendant's vehicle
crosses the right fog line. Almost immediately afterwards,
Defendant turned into the McDonald's parking lot without
activating his turn signal 300 feet prior as required by
Delaware law. Looking at the totality of the circumstances,
these facts created a reasonable articulable suspicion to
stop Defendant's vehicle.
Defendant Benjamin Baffone's Motion to Suppress is hereby