The opinion of the court was delivered by: James G. Carr Sr. United States District Judge
This is a criminal case in which the defendant stands indicted for alien smuggling. The indictment results from a traffic stop. The defendant seeks to suppress statements he made during and after the stop. He also seeks dismissal of the indictment or, alternatively, a ruling in limine on the basis of the intervening deportation of potential witnesses. (Doc. 11).
Following a hearing and submission of supplemental briefs, the defendant's motion to suppress is decisional. For the reasons that follow, I deny the motion.
On March 23, 2011, OSHP Trooper Steven J. Basci began following the defendant's vehicle. He did so for about eleven miles before stopping him. During that period, he followed the defendant's car, pulling once alongside on the left and once on the right.
The defendant was driving at about sixty-four or sixty-five m.p.h.*fn1 He was looking straight ahead, with his hands at the "ten/two" position on the steering wheel.
While the Trooper was beside the passenger side of the defendant's vehicle, a truck pulled in front of him. That caused a pickup truck to move over from that lane into the defendant's lane. When it did so, the pickup left only a short distance between it and the defendant's car.
The Trooper resumed position behind the defendant's car. He saw that for about a mile it remained, according to his estimate, about a car length and a half behind the pickup.
Concluding that the defendant had been following the pickup too closely in violation of the Ohio Traffic Code, the Trooper activated his overhead lights and pulled the defendant over.
The pertinent statutory provision states:
The operator of a motor vehicle, streetcar, or trackless trolley shall not follow another vehicle, streetcar, or trackless trolley more closely than is reasonable and prudent, having due regard for the speed of such vehicle, streetcar, or trackless trolley, and the traffic upon and the condition of the highway.
In deciding to stop the defendant for violating this provision, Trooper Basci used an OSHP "rule of thumb" which requires a distance between vehicles in the same lane of one-car length per every ten miles per hour of vehicles' speed.
When Trooper Basciactivated his overhead lights to signal the defendant to pull over, his patrol car's videorecorder camera also turned on.*fn2
On stopping the defendant, the defendant told Basci that the vehicle's owner was not present. He could not provide any information about his passengers, who spoke little or no English.
The passengers provided no state or federal identification. One had a Mexican election card. When the Trooper asked the defendant "if they were supposed to be here," the defendant said, "No."
The Trooper called for Customs and Border Patrol assistance. In the meantime, he ran a criminal records check on the defendant, and learned that he had a prior arrest for alien smuggling. He put the defendant in the back seat of his patrol car and read him ...