State v. Dawson

Summarized by:

  • Court: Oregon Court of Appeals
  • Area(s) of Law: Criminal Procedure
  • Date Filed: 11-16-2016
  • Case #: A155787
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Flynn, J. For the Court; Duncan, P.J. & DeVore, J.
  • Full Text Opinion

Under State v. Dennis, an officer conducting a traffic stop is free to question a motorist about matters unrelated to that stop, but not as an alternative to going forward with the next step in processing the traffic stop.

Dawson appealed the trial court’s judgment of conviction for unlawful delivery of cocaine, possession of cocaine, and criminal forfeiture. Specifically, Dawson argued the trial court erred in its denial of his motion to suppress evidence obtained through a search of his vehicle during a traffic stop, because the search was unlawful. Further, Dawson argued that he gave consent after the officer unlawfully extended the traffic stop to investigate the crime of unauthorized use of a vehicle (UUV). This Court holds that an officer conducting a traffic stop “is free to question a motorist about matters unrelated to the traffic infraction during an unavoidable lull in the investigation, such as while waiting for the results of a records check,” the officer is not “free to question the motorist about unrelated matters as an alternative to going forward with the next step in processing the infraction, such as the writing or issuing of a citation.” State v. Dennis, 250 Or App 732 (2012). Investigating whether a driver was committing the crime of UUV is unrelated to the investigation of driving without a front license plate, and resulted in an “unreasonably lengthy” traffic stop. Id. Further, the officer lacked objectively reasonable suspicion, because the officer’s suspicion that Dawson had committed or was about to commit a crime was not based on specific and articulable facts. State v. Alvarado, 257 Or App 612 (2013). Reversed and remanded.

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