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State v. Stookey

Summarized by: 

Date Filed: 02-27-2013
Case #: A147101
Duncan, J. for the Court; Armstrong, P.J.; and Brewer, J.
Full Text Opinion: http://www.publications.ojd.state.or.us/docs/A147101.pdf

Criminal Procedure: Violating ORS 815.020(1)(a) requires a vehicle to be so sufficiently unsafe that its occupants face a danger of probable harm or loss. A horizontal crack in defendant's windshield did not "endanger any person" under ORS 815.020 and therefore the officer's objective belief was not reasonable.

Defendant appealed his conviction for one count of failure to report as a sex offender, assigning error to the trial court's denial of his motion to suppress evidence on the grounds that the police officer lacked probable cause to conduct a traffic stop. The officer pulled Defendant over upon noticing a horizontal crack in Defendant's windshield that potentially obstructed his line of sight. Once defendant handed the officer his license, the officer discovered Defendant's noncompliance with the sex offender reporting requirements. Defendant concedes that the officer held a subjective belief that the windshield crack presented danger, satisfying the first prong of the probable cause test, but he argued, the second prong, which required his subjective belief to be reasonable, was not met. Defendant argued that the facts, as the officer perceived them, did not constitute a violation because the windshield crack did not endanger any person under ORS 815.020. The Court agreed with Defendant, and found no probable cause for the stop, and therefore the trial court's denial of Defendant's motion to suppress violated his right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures under Article I, section 9 of the Oregon Constitution. Reversed and remanded.