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State v. Nims

Summarized by: 

Date Filed: 03-14-2012
Case #: A146162
Duncan, J. for the Court; Haselton, P.J., and Armstrong, J.
Full Text Opinion: http://www.publications.ojd.state.or.us/sites/Publications/A146162.pdf

Criminal Procedure: Under the unavoidable lull rule, it is not unlawful for an officer to inquire about matters unrelated to the initial violation as long as the inquiry does not unlawfully extend that traffic stop.

The State appeals the trial court’s order granting Defendant’s motion to suppress. Police officers stopped Defendant for a traffic violation. While one officer left to write the citation, the other officer stayed by Defendant’s vehicle. Within the next 30 seconds, the officer asked Defendant for permission to search the vehicle. Defendant consented and the officer found illegal drugs. The trial court granted Defendant’s motion to suppress, finding that the officer’s request for consent unlawfully extended the traffic stop because it was unrelated to the reasons for the traffic stop. The Court of Appeals found that, based on the unavoidable lull rule, an officer may inquire about matters unrelated to the traffic stop if the officer is not in a position to proceed with the investigation of the violation or the issuance of the citation. The Court held that because the officer’s request for consent occurred while the other officer was writing the citation, his request did not unlawfully extend the traffic stop. Reversed and remanded.