Submitted: July 9, 2018
Mayer, Esquire Delaware Department of Justice Attorney for
the State of Delaware
G. Ahem III, Esquire Attorney for Defendant
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER ON DEFENDANT'S
MOTION TO SUPRESS
J. SMALLS CHIEF JUDGE.
AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
January 20, 2018, Defendant Adam C. Lecates
("Defendant") was arrested for the offenses of
Driving While Under the Influence of Alcohol (DUI), in
violation of 21 Del C. §4177; Failure to
Signal, in violation of 21 Del. C. §4155(b);
and Improper Lane Change, in violation of 21 Del. C.
facts which gave rise to these proceedings indicate that on
the night of January 20, 2018 Corporal Christopher Sutton of
the Delaware State Police ("Cpl. Sutton") was
driving in the left lane of Maryland Avenue, a four lane
street in the City of Wilmington. He stopped for the red
light at the intersection with Banning Street. While stopped
at the red light, he observed a red Chevrolet Impala vehicle
("the Impala") operated by Defendant, traveling in
the right lane in his direction. The red Impala also stopped
at the red light. When the light turned green, both vehicles
continued on Maryland Avenue. The traffic pattern on Maryland
Avenue east of Banning Street permitted parking vehicles in
the right lane where there were vehicles. These vehicles
blocked the lane of travel for the Impala. After passing
through the intersection, the Impala changed from the right
lane to the left lane in front of Cpl. Sutton's marked
police vehicle. Defendant used the vehicle's turn signal
when making the lane change. Cpl. Sutton initiated a traffic
stop of the Impala on the basis that Defendant failed to
signal three hundred (300) feet prior to the lane change.
Following an investigation, Cpl. Sutton thereafter arrested
Defendant on the above-named offenses.
April 24, 2018, Defendant filed a Motion to Suppress.
Defendant seeks to suppress from use at trial all evidence
seized by the State as a result of the traffic stop and all
statements made by Defendant on the basis that the officer
lacked reasonable articulable suspicion and probable cause to
stop the vehicle for a violation of 21 Del. C.
§4155(b). Defendant does not dispute that he changed
lanes, but avers that it was impossible for him to comply
with §4155(b)'s requirement that he signal for at
least 300 feet before changing lanes, because there were
vehicles parked in the right lane which impede his path of
travel such that there was less than 300 feet of roadway
available to signal.
24, 2018, a hearing was held on Defendant's Motion to
Suppress. During the Motion hearing, Cpl. Sutton testified
that on January 20, 2018, at around 11:05 p.m., he was on
routine patrol within the City of Wilmington in a marked
police vehicle equipped with a Mobile Vehicle Recorder
("MVR"). Cpl. Sutton testified that it was a clear
night, without any fog or precipitation. Cpl. Sutton
testified he was driving in the left lane of Maryland Avenue
and while stopped at the red light, he observed two vehicles,
one traveling in the left lane and the other traveling in the
right lane in his direction. The vehicle in the right lane
appeared to be speeding, Cpl. Sutton further testified that
the driver of the vehicle, a red Impala, timed the light to
cross through the intersection right as it turned green.
Seconds after crossing through the intersection, the Impala
changed lanes from the right to the left, in front of Cpl.
Sutton's vehicle. Cpl. Sutton testified that the driver
of the Impala only turned on his turn signal after he was
making the lane change. Cpl. Sutton then initiated a traffic
stop of the Chevy Impala, which was driven by Defendant.
cross-examination, Cpl. Sutton testified that the basis for
the stop of Defendant's vehicle was a violation of 21
Del. C. §4155(b), failure to signal
continuously for 300 feet before changing lanes.
conclusion of the Motion Hearing, the Court ordered
supplemental briefing. On June 13, 2018, the State filed its
Supplemental Response to Defendant's Motion to
Suppress Evidence ("State's Brief).
Successively, on June 28, 2018, Defendant filed his Reply
to the State of Delaware's Response to his Motion to
Suppress Evidence ("Defendant's Reply").
This is the Court's Final Decision and Order on the
Defendant's Motion to Suppress.
Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution secures an
individual's right to be free from unreasonable
governmental searches and seizures. Under the Fourth
Amendment, "a traffic stop is reasonable if it is
supported by reasonable suspicion or probable cause to
believe that a traffic violation has
justify a vehicle stop, the officer must be able to point to
objective facts which would support "reasonable
articulable suspicion, taken together with rational
inferences from those facts, which reasonably warrant the
intrusion." "The Court must examine the totality
of circumstances surrounding the situation as viewed through
the 'eyes of a reasonable trained police officer in the
same manner or similar circumstances, combining the objective
facts with such an officer's subjective interpretation to
those facts' and determine reasonable articulable