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State v. Wardle

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Seventh District, Mahoning

December 11, 2017

STATE OF OHIO PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE
v.
JOHN WARDLE DEFENDANT-APPELLANT

         Criminal Appeal from the Youngstown Municipal Court, Mahoning County, Ohio Case No. 16 TRC 00127Y

          For Plaintiff-Appellee Attorney Dana Lantz Youngstown City Prosecutor Attorney Jeffrey Moliterno Assistant Prosecutor

          For Defendant-Appellant Attorney Ryan Ingram

          OPINION

          DeGENARO, J.

         {¶1} Defendant-Appellant, John Wardle, appeals the decision of the Youngstown Municipal Court denying his motion to suppress. As suppression was properly denied, the judgment of the trial court is affirmed.

         {¶2} On January 14, 2016, Wardle was stopped by Sergeant Eric Brown of the Ohio State Highway Patrol and later charged with two counts of operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol in violation of R.C. 4511.19(A)(1)(a) and 4511.19(A)(1)(d), one count of driving under suspension in violation of R.C. 4510.11, and one count of marked lanes, R.C. 4511.33. Wardle filed a motion to suppress evidence.

         {¶3} At the suppression hearing the parties stipulated to the admissibility of the dash cam video and limited the scope of the hearing to the initial stop, the expansion of the stop, and probable cause for the OVI arrest. Brown testified that he had been with the highway patrol for twenty years and made approximately 1, 000 OVI arrests in his career. Brown was patrolling Midlothian Boulevard at 2:30 a.m. and observed Wardle's vehicle traveling in the left lane, and then drive out of his lane of travel into the right lane approximately two feet for a distance of approximately 75 feet traveled.

         {¶4} Brown initiated a traffic stop, exited his cruiser, and saw Wardle was already holding his license out of the window. Brown usually had to ask drivers to produce their license. Brown noted that Wardle would not make eye contact with him; he looked away and down. Further, Wardle denied consuming alcohol and was smoking a cigarette and blowing smoke inside the car, behavior which suggested that he was attempting to mask the smell of alcohol. However, Brown detected the odor of alcohol from inside of the vehicle. Initially, Brown could not ascertain if the odor emanated from Wardle or the passenger.

         {¶5} Brown had Wardle exit the vehicle and immediately detected the odor of alcohol on Wardle's breath. Brown requested field sobriety tests and Wardle refused. The dash cam video was played at the suppression hearing, and contrary to Wardle's assertion, the trial court concluded that on that date snow would not have prevented a driver from staying in his or her lane of travel. Approximately an hour after the stop Brown administered Wardle a breathalyzer test; the result was .101 BAC.

         {¶6} The trial court denied the motion to suppress and Wardle subsequently entered a plea of no contest to OVI and failure to reinstate license.

         Motion to Suppress Evidence

         {¶7} In his sole assignment of error, Wardle asserts:

The Mahoning County trial court erred in denying the Defendant-Appellant's Motion to Suppress Evidence.

         {¶8} On appeal a trial court's suppression ruling can challenge the trial court's: findings of fact; application of the law to the findings of fact; and assuming the facts are not against the manifest weight of the evidence and the law was properly applied, that the trial court has incorrectly decided the issues. State v. Hall,2016-Ohio-5787, 70 N.E.3d 1154, ΒΆ ...


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