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State v. DeVault

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Sixth District

July 5, 2013

State of Ohio Appellee
v.
Ryan A. Devault Appellant

Trial Court No. TRC1101994

Mark Mulligan, Prosecuting Attorney, and Andrew M. Bigler, Assistant Prosecuting Attorney, for appellee.

Hector G. Martinez, for appellant.

DECISION AND JUDGMENT

YARBROUGH, J.

I. Introduction

{¶ 1} Appellant, Ryan DeVault, appeals the judgment of the Ottawa County Municipal Court, convicting him of one count of operating a vehicle under the influence in violation of R.C. 4511.19, a misdemeanor of the first degree.

A. Facts and Procedural Background

{¶ 2} On Saturday, July 23, 2011, just past 8 p.m., Catawba Island police officer Sergeant James Stewart stopped appellant because he observed appellant's vehicle weaving off the right side of the road and then back on top of the center line. Stewart requested that appellant step out of the car with his license and registration. Once out of the car, Stewart observed appellant's glassy, bloodshot eyes and smelled the odor of alcohol on his breath. Appellant admitted to drinking vodka earlier in the day. Stewart communicated the lane violation he observed while trailing appellant's vehicle.

{¶ 3} Shortly thereafter, Stewart asked appellant if he would be willing to take some field sobriety tests, and appellant obliged. Stewart then administered the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus Test (HGN) as well as a portable breathalyzer test. However, Stewart did not administer either the one-leg-stand test or the walk-and-turn test due to approaching inclement weather. Stewart testified that when he administered the HGN test to appellant he observed a lack of smooth pursuit, onset of distinct nystagmus, and onset of nystagmus prior to 45 degrees in both eyes. The portable breathalyzer test revealed that there were 11.8 grams of alcohol in appellant's blood per 210 liters of breath. Stewart then placed appellant under arrest for operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol.

{¶ 4} On July 25, 2011, the state filed a complaint against appellant, alleging the charge of operating a vehicle under the influence. Appellant entered a plea of not guilty. Appellant then filed a motion to suppress evidence from the field sobriety test, and requested an oral hearing. The hearing took place, and the trial court denied the motion to suppress. Appellant then changed his plea to no contest. Appellant was convicted and a judgment entry of sentence was filed.

B. Assignments of Error

{¶ 5} Appellant has timely appealed, raising three assignments of error:

1. The arresting officer lacked reasonable and articulable suspicion to justify an investigatory stop of Mr. DeVault's vehicle, thus implicating the protections of the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution and Article 1, Section 14 of the Ohio Constitution.
2. The arresting officer lacked reasonable and articulable suspicion of criminal activity to continue the detention and request Mr. DeVault to exit his vehicle for the purposes of conducting further investigation, including, but not limited to, field sobriety exercises; thus, said evidence was illegally seized by officers and/or agents of the Catawba Island Township Police Department and is the fruit of an unconstitutional search and seizure in violation of the rights guaranteed Mr. DeVault ...

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