Shotgun Motions to Suppress Are a Real Thing in Cincinnati - DUI News - 7/26/2016

The 1st District relies on its legal theory of a "Shotgun Motion to Suppress," to reduce the state's burden to merely "general and slight" when showing substantial compliance with field sobriety tests.

State v. Richards, 2016 Ohio 3518 (1st Dist)

June 22, 2016

Richards filed a motion to suppress after he was charged with an OVI.  The trial court granted the motion to suppress and the State appealed.  The 1st District first reviewed the State's burden in responding to the motion to suppress held that, "in order to require the state to respond specifically and particularly to the issues raised in the motion to suppress, the accused must raise issues that can be supported by facts that are specific to those issues raised."  It concluded that Richards' motion was a "shotgun motion to suppress," because it did not include facts about his case, but rather blanket assertions that the officer did not comply with the field sobriety tests and NHTSA regulations.  Because the motion did not sufficiently raise factual allegations, the 1st District held that it was, "insufficient to elevate the state's burden to prove substantial compliance from general and slight."

The 1st District affirmed the trial court's decision to suppress the HGN test, however, concluding that the officer did not move the pen in an even manner, did not hold it 12-15 inches away from Richards' face, did not face him away from nearby traffic, and at least once moved the pen too quickly.

On the other hand, the 1st District relied on its conclusion that, "the state's burden to demonstrate substantial compliance with NHTSA standards relating to such conditions was 'general and slight'" to reverse the trial court's decision to suppress the walk-and-turn and one-leg-stand tests.   Although the trial court concluded that Richards' performance on the test may have been affected by wind, noise, road dirt, and a constant flow of fast tractor trailers, the 1st District instead relied on the fact that no questions about these factors were raised at the suppression hearing.  Relying on its "general and slight" standard, it held that "the state must have the opportunity to intelligently respond in an informed manner to the specific claims."

The 1st District then evaluated whether there was probable cause to arrest Richards.  It cited its previous holdings that, while a minor traffic violation and the odor of alcohol is not enough for probable cause, if is enough if there is also "some reasonable indicia" of impairment.  Here the traffic violation was more than minor, there was the odor of alcohol, eyes were watery and bloodshot, speech slow and deliberate, an admission to consuming alcohol, and knowledge of a prior OVI.