Out of State License an Indication of Impairment? - DUI News - 11/14/2016

State uses Florida drivers' license as justification for completing field sobriety tests without explanation.

City of Cleveland v. Hyppolite, 2016 Ohio 7399 (8th Dist.).


October 20, 2016

Trooper Kay was engaged in a traffic stop of a vehicle on Interstate 90 in Cleveland when he believed Hyppolite violated Revised Code 4511.213 by passing his stopped cruiser with the lights on without slowing down or changing lanes.  He therefore initiated a traffic stop of Hyppolite and reported that he used the following observations to proceed further with sobriety tests:  (1) the reason for the traffic stop, (2) an odor of alcohol coming from inside the vehicle, (3) Hyppolite's slow, slurred speech and blood shot, glassy eyes, and (4) because she had a Florida driver's license.  He ultimately believed she failed the field sobriety tests and arrested her for an OVI.  The Cleveland Municipal Court subsequently denied her motion to suppress.  She therefore brought this appeal.

She argued that the trial court was wrong to find the Trooper has sufficient reason to expand the initial traffic stop because his report indicated that he detected to odor after he expanded the stop and the admission of consumption as after the stop was expanded.  The 8th District held that the admission was irrelevant because it was not one of the 4 observations the Trooper reported he used to expand the stop.  With regard to the odor, the 8th District concluded that there was some evidence that he detected the odor before expanding the stop, even if his report indicated otherwise.  The court did not address, however, how the Florida Driver's license was relevant to expanding the traffic stop.