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State v. James

Supreme Court of North Dakota

March 15, 2016

State of North Dakota, Plaintiff and Appellee
v.
Bo Tyler James, Defendant and Appellant

Appeal from the District Court of McKenzie County, Northwest Judicial District, the Honorable Robin A. Schmidt, Judge.

Charles B. Neff, McKenzie County Assistant State's Attorney, Watford City, N.D, for plaintiff and appellee.

Tatum O. Lindbo, Fargo, N.D, for defendant and appellant.

Daniel J. Crothers, Lisa Fair McEvers, Carol Ronning Kapsner, Dale V. Sandstrom, Gerald W. VandeWalle, C.J. Opinion of the Court by Crothers, Justice.

OPINION

Page 721

Crothers, Justice.

[¶1] Bo James appeals from a judgment entered after the district court denied his motion to suppress evidence and he conditionally pled guilty to driving under the influence. We conclude sufficient evidence established reasonable and articulable suspicion to stop James's vehicle. We affirm.

I

[¶2] On June 9, 2014, at about 2 a.m., Sergeant Ficken was on duty in Watford City. Ficken heard a semitruck continuously honking or blowing its horn. When he looked in the direction of the sound, he observed a Dodge pickup pulling a stock trailer traveling westbound in front of the semitruck. Ficken stopped the truck to investigate. The truck driver reported to Ficken that the pickup driver cut him off and was possibly drunk. Ficken testified he called Deputy Travis Bateman via radio, " notified him of the incident," and told him to be on the lookout for a Dodge pick-up pulling a stock trailer westbound on Highway 85 outside of Watford City.

[¶3] Ten to fifteen minutes later, Bateman told Ficken he located the vehicle and stopped it in the Arnegard area. Ficken testified that there was very light traffic and it would take ten to fifteen minutes to get from Watford City to where the stop occurred. According to Bateman's report, Bateman observed the stock trailer drifting left and right, and striking the center and fog lines of the roadway. He stopped James's vehicle after it passed through a construction zone. The stopped vehicle was a Dodge pickup pulling a stock trailer.

[¶4] James was charged with driving under the influence. He moved to suppress evidence, contending law enforcement officers conducted a traffic stop without reasonable and articulable suspicion or other justification in violation of the Fourth Amendment. The district court denied the motion and James entered a conditional guilty plea under N.D.R.Crim.P. 11(a)(2), reserving his right to appeal the order denying his motion to suppress.

II

[¶5] Our standard of review for a district court's decision on a motion to suppress evidence is ...


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