United States District Court, N.D. California
ORDER DENYING MOTION TO SUPPRESS EVIDENCE Re: Dkt. No. 11
MARIA-ELENA JAMES, Magistrate Judge.
Daniyar Tuyakbayev ("Defendant") is charged with two Class B misdemeanors: driving under the influence of alcohol (36 C.F.R. § 1004.23(a)(1)) and operating a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol content ("BAC") of.08 percent or greater (36 C.F.R. § 1004.23(a)(2)). Defendant has filed a Motion to Suppress, arguing the arresting officer stopped him unlawfully because he had no reasonable suspicion to believe Defendant was in violation of the law; consequently, he argues any evidence found as a result of that stop should be suppressed. Mot. at 2-3, Dkt. No. 11. If the Court does not find for Defendant on the papers, he requests an evidentiary hearing and an order directing the Government to disclose any other exculpatory or impeachment information. Id. at 5. The Government filed an Opposition (Dkt. No. 12), and Defendant filed a Reply (Dkt. No. 15). Having considered the parties' positions, relevant legal authority, and the record in this case, the Court DENIES Defendant's Motion for the reasons set forth below.
Unless otherwise noted, the following recitation of the facts is based on the information contained in Officer Eric Cole's United States Park Police ("USPP") police report from the night of Defendant's arrest. Cole Decl., Ex. A (Police Report, DT0006), Dkt. No. 12-1.
On January 18, 2015, Officer Eric Cole was on duty in San Francisco's Presidio neighborhood. Around 11:37 p.m., Officer Cole was standing outside of his patrol car at the bus stop at Lincoln Boulevard and Pershing Drive, when he heard a loud engine and observed a dark-colored vehicle traveling northbound on Lincoln Boulevard in his direction. Officer Cole observed that the vehicle was traveling toward him at a very high rate of speed. He also observed that the car did not have a front license plate.
When the vehicle slowed for the stop-sign near Officer Cole, he used his flashlight and verbally commanded the driver to pull over. Officer Cole then observed the vehicle had a rear license plate. Officer Cole reported that upon making contact with the driver through an open window, he "immediately smelled the odor of alcohol emanating from the vehicle." Defendant first denied he had an alcoholic beverage prior to the stop, but then stated he had consumed one twelve ounce "Racer 5" beer approximately four hours earlier. Defendant agreed to submit to Standardized Field Sobriety Testing, and Officer Cole reported that Defendant smelled of alcohol when he exited the car and his eyes were bloodshot and glassy. He also noted that Defendant slurred his speech.
With Defendant's consent, Officer Cole conducted three field sobriety tests: (1) Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus; (2) Walk and Turn; and (3) One Leg Stand, all of which he reported Defendant failed. He also administered two Preliminary Alcohol Screening tests. The first test, administered at 11:53 p.m., resulted in a BAC of.168. A second test, administered at 11:56 p.m., resulted in a BAC of.146. Officer Cole then placed Defendant under arrest for suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol. Upon arrival at USPP Substation #8 in San Francisco, another breath test at 1:29 a.m. resulted in a BAC of.167. A final test, administered at 1:30 a.m., resulted in a BAC of.141. Defendant was then charged with (1) driving under the influence of alcohol (36 C.F.R. § 1004.23(a)(1)), and (2) driving under the influence of alcohol with a BAC greater than.08 percent (36 C.F.R. § 1004.23(a)(2)).
At his Initial Appearance on March 11, 2015, Defendant entered a not guilty plea to the charges against him. Dkt. No. 3. Defendant filed the present Motion to Suppress on June 12, 2015, arguing his vehicle was seized without a warrant or reasonable suspicion in violation of the Fourth Amendment. Mot. at 1. Defendant therefore moves to suppress the fruits of the allegedly unlawful seizure. Id.
A. Motion to Suppress
The Fourth Amendment protects citizens from unreasonable searches and seizures. U.S. Const. amend. IV. In the context of investigatory stops, "[b]ecause stopping an automobile and detaining its occupants, even if only for a brief period and for a limited purpose, ' constitutes a seizure' under the Fourth Amendment, ... an official must have individualized reasonable suspicion' of unlawful conduct to carry out such a stop." Tarabochia v. Adkins, 766 F.3d 1115, 1121 (9th Cir. 2014) (quoting Whren v. United States, 517 U.S. 806, 809-10 (1996), and Delaware v. Prouse, 440 U.S. 648, 663 (1979)); see also United States v. Lopez-Soto, 205 F.3d 1101, 1104-05 (9th Cir. 2000) (an investigative traffic stop requires reasonable suspicion, not probable cause).
"The reasonable suspicion standard is not a particularly high threshold to reach." United States v. Valdes-Vega, 738 F.3d 1074, 1078 (9th Cir. 2013). "Although  a mere hunch is insufficient to justify a stop, the likelihood of criminal activity need not rise to the level required for probable cause, and it falls considerably short of satisfying a preponderance of the evidence standard." Id. (quoting United States v. Arvizu, 534 U.S. 266, 274 (2002)). Reasonable suspicion is rather "formed by specific articulable facts which, together with objective and reasonable inferences, form the basis for suspecting that the particular person detained is engaged in criminal activity.'" United States v. Colin, 314 F.3d 439, 442 (9th Cir. 2002) (quoting Lopez-Soto, 205 F.3d at 1105). Thus, courts look to the "totality of the circumstances" to determine whether the officer had a "particularized and objective basis" for suspecting criminal activity. Valdes-Vega, 738 F.3d at 1078.
This standard also permits officers to "draw on their own experience and specialized training to make inferences from and deductions about the cumulative information available to them[.]" Arvizu, 534 U.S. at 273 (citations omitted). The constitutionality of a traffic stop therefore, does not depend on the subjective motivation or intent of an officer. United States v. Wallace, 213 F.3d 1216, 1219 (9th Cir. 2000) (citing Whren, 517 U.S. at 813). Accordingly, "[t]he fact that the alleged traffic violation is a pretext for the stop is irrelevant, so long as the objective circumstances justify the stop." Id. If an officer who executes a valid stop reasonably believes the driver is involved in criminal activity, "he may detain him for a reasonable period of time." United States v. Martinez, 403 Fed.App'x 182, 183 ...