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State v. Kupis

Court of Common Pleas of Delaware, New Castle

February 5, 2018

STATE OF DELAWARE,
v.
ADAM T. KUPIS, III, Defendant.

          Submitted: November 7, 2017

          Anthony J. Hill, Esquire Deputy Attorney General Attorney for the State of Delaware

          Joseph Hurley, Esquire Attorney for Defendant

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER ON DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO SUPPRESS

          Robert H. Surles, Judge

         The Defendant, Adam Kupis, III (hereinafter the "Defendant"), brings this motion to suppress evidence in connection with a Driving Under the Influence ("DUI") investigation. The Defendant asserts that there was a reckless exclusion of important and material facts which a reasonable and objective police officer should have known would have been of significance to a magistrate in the decision-making process to determine whether a finding of probable cause was warranted under the totality of the circumstances. On November 7, 2017, a hearing was convened on the Motion to Suppress. A State of Delaware Impaired Driving Report, an Affidavit and Application for Search, and an Affidavit of Defendant's attorney, Joseph Hurley were submitted into evidence. Following the hearing, the Court reserved decision. This is the Final Decision of the Court on the Defendant's Motion to Suppress.

         FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         On May 15, 2016, at approximately 5:39 a.m., Delaware State Officer Dustin Hamilton (hereinafter "Trooper Hamilton") was dispatched for a welfare check on a white male passed out in the driver's seat of a vehicle, with the vehicle running and the driver side door open. When Trooper Hamilton arrived, he made contact with EMS personnel and Corporal Underwood, who observed the vehicle running with the driver side door open and the operator passed out. Cpl. Underwood woke the operator of the vehicle and detected an odor of alcohol.

         Trooper Hamilton then initiated contact with the vehicle operator and upon viewing his Delaware driver's license, identified him as Adam T. Kupis, III, the Defendant in this matter. During this interaction, Trooper Hamilton observed glassy and blood shot eyes, with a moderate odor of alcohol emanating from the Defendant. At this time, Defendant admitted to drinking earlier in the evening and that he had pulled his car over to its present position after visiting a friend.

         Trooper Hamilton proceeded to conduct an alphabet test, asking the Defendant to recite the alphabet from E to P. Defendant stated "E, D, E" before accurately reciting the rest of the requested letters in proper sequence. Trooper Hamilton then instructed the Defendant to count backward from 68 to 53. The Defendant completed this preliminary test without incident.

         Next, Trooper Hamilton had the Defendant exit the vehicle, which the Defendant proceeded to in a normal manner, in order for Trooper Hamilton to administer various field sobriety tests to the Defendant, including the HGN/VGN, Walk and Turn, and One Leg Stand.[1]According to Trooper Hamilton, the Defendant demonstrated four of a possible six clues during the HGN test, noting that "[Defendant's] eyes lacked smooth pursuit and uncontrollable jerking of the eyes was present at maximum deviation."[2] On the Walk and Turn test, the Defendant demonstrated an additional clue when he failed to properly place his right foot in front of his left, touching the right heel to his left toes.[3]

         Following the field sobriety tests, Trooper Hamilton placed the Defendant in his patrol vehicle to complete the 15-minute observation period, during which Defendant had nothing to eat, drink, or smoke. Trooper Hamilton then asked Defendant to consent to a Preliminary Breathalyzer Test (PBT). Defendant refused, and Trooper Hamilton then transported Defendant to DSP Troop 9. Defendant refused to consent to an Intoxilyzer test, at which point a search warrant was obtained to draw a sample of Defendant's blood.

         PARTIES' CONTENTIONS

         The Defendant seeks to suppress the results of the blood test. Defendant argues Trooper Hamilton recklessly excluded information that should have been presented to the Court in a meaningful way so that the Court could evaluate the totality of the circumstances before issuing a search warrant.

         First, Defendant maintains that Trooper Hamilton did not relay to the Court the precise position of Defendant's vehicle. In Trooper Hamilton's report, he indicated that Defendant's vehicle was stopped on the shoulder of the roadway at an intersection on Pole Bridge Road. In Trooper Hamilton's search warrant affidavit submitted to the Court, Trooper Hamilton describes arriving at the scene, at "Pole Bridge Rd. at the entrance of Augustine Blvd."[4] Defendant argues that Trooper Hamilton failed to clearly articulate that the vehicle was not, in fact, in the intersection, but rather, parked on the ...


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