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State v. Anderson

Summarized by: 

Date Filed: 11-14-2013
Case #: A149005
Egan, J. for the Court; Armstrong, P.J.; and Nakamoto, J.
Full Text Opinion: http://www.publications.ojd.state.or.us/docs/A149005.pdf

Criminal Procedure: Under Article I, Section 9 of the Oregon Constitution, to have probable cause in a traffic stop, the officer must (1) subjectively believe a violation has occurred, and (2) that belief must be objectively reasonable under the circumstances.

Defendant appealed his conviction for driving while suspended, by arguing that the trial court erred in denying his motion to suppress. A sheriff’s deputy stopped Defendant because of a windshield crack and cited Defendant for two violations. During the course of the traffic stop it was discovered that Defendant’s license was suspended. The two violations cited by the deputy were: (1) operation of an unsafe vehicle, under ORS 815.020, and (2) operation of a vehicle that is loaded or equipped to obstruct the driver. To violate ORS 815.020, the vehicle’s condition needs to create a probable risk of harm or loss. Here, the deputy’s belief was not objectively reasonable because the single crack in the windshield only caused a “minimally higher risk of harm,” but nothing about the characteristics of the crack created a probable risk of harm or loss. Alternatively, the Defendant’s operation of the vehicle did not violate ORS 815.270 because the legislative intent concerns only extrinsic objects interfering with the driver’s operation of the vehicle, but not intrinsic conditions of the vehicle. To have probable cause, the officer must (1) subjectively believe a violation has occurred, and (2) that belief must be objectively reasonable under the circumstances. The Court of Appeals agreed with Defendant. The deputy did not have an objectively reasonable basis for making the traffic stop, and therefore lacked probable cause under Article I, Section 9 of the Oregon Constitution. Reversed and Remanded.