Submitted: January 26, 2018
Consideration of Defendant's Motion to Suppress -Motion
William L. Raisis, Esquire, Deputy Attorney General, Delaware
Department of Justice, Wilmington, Delaware, Attorney for the
State of Delaware.
Michael W. Modica, Esquire, Wilmington, Delaware, Attorney
for the Defendant.
Clarke Streett, Judge
30th day of January, 2018, having considered Defendant's
Motion to Suppress, the State's Reply, a Suppression
Hearing, and oral argument, Defendant's Motion to
Suppress is GRANTED.
and Procedural Background
August 23, 2017, at approximately 9:45 p.m., Trooper Duane
Freeman while driving a marked police vehicle, entered Route
40 westbound, a divided roadway. The westbound side of Route
40 had either two or three lanes divided by broken lines near
Wellington Road. Immediately upon driving in the right lane,
the officer observed a vehicle approximately three car
lengths ahead of him also in the right lane. The lanes did
not have solid lines.
vehicle was proceeding at an appropriate rate of speed and
was not being driven erratically. There were no other cars on
the road. Trooper Freeman watched as the vehicle's right
directional signal was turned on. Shortly thereafter, the
vehicle drifted approximately twelve (12) inches into the
left lane for two (2) seconds and then immediately returned
completely to the right lane. The vehicle then made a right
turn into the right turn lane and exited off of Route 40. The
officer had observed the vehicle for approximately two
minutes as it travelled for less than a mile. Based on that
sole observation, Trooper Freeman signaled for the vehicle to
pull over as it cleared the exit.
stopping the vehicle, Trooper Freeman observed that the
driver, Spencer Seaton ("Defendant"), had glassy
eyes, a strong odor of alcohol, and slurred speech. Trooper
Freeman asked Defendant to step out of the car and the
Defendant complied without incident.
Freeman performed a pat down search of Defendant's
person. Defendant admitted that he had marijuana in his
pocket and had smoked marijuana and used alcohol that
Freeman then attempted to administer the Horizontal Gaze
Nystagmus test and the Walk and Turn test. Defendant could
not perform either of the field tests. Defendant, while
wearing dentures, eventually took a Portable Breath Test
("PBT") which registered a blood alcohol level of
0.139%. Trooper Freeman then arrested Defendant for driving
under the influence.
October 16, 2017, a Delaware grand jury returned a
three-count indictment against Defendant for driving a
vehicle while under the influence, failing to maintain lane
in violation of 21 Del. C. § 4122(1), and no
proof of insurance.
December 15, 2017, Defendant filed a Motion to Suppress all
evidence. On December 20, 2017, the State filed the
State's Reply to Defendant's Motion to Suppress. On
January 26, 2018, the Court held a Suppression Hearing.
hearing, the State presented the testimony of Trooper Freeman
and also entered the motor vehicle video recording
("MVR") of the events leading up to, during, and
after Defendant's traffic stop. The Defendant did not
present any testimony and did not enter any exhibits into
Superior Court Criminal Rule 41(f) Motion to Suppress,
Defendant argues that "there was insufficient reasonable
suspicion to stop his vehicle for an alleged lane
violation" and that "[t]he stop, detention,
administration of field coordination tests, administration of
breath test, and arrest  violated his state and federal
constitutional rights against unreasonable search and
seizures" because "a single entry into another
lane followed by a correction does not constitute a violation
of Section 4122(1)."
State responded that Trooper Freeman had reasonable suspicion
to conduct a traffic stop because "Defendant's
vehicle moved to the left and slightly entered the left lane
before moving back to the right lane, then into the right
turn lane." The State added that "[t]he fact that
[D]efendant had his right turn signal on and eventually made
a right turn indicate[s] that he did not ascertain that
movement into the left lane could be made with