Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

State v. Patrick

Supreme Court of North Dakota

November 9, 2016

State of North Dakota, Plaintiff and Appellant
v.
Alexander M. Patrick, Defendant and Appellee

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

         REVERSED AND REMANDED.

          Stephenie L. Davis, McKenzie County Assistant State's Attorney, for plaintiff and appellant.

          Jeff L. Nehring (argued) and Whitney P. Skinner (on brief), for defendant and appellee.

          OPINION

          CROTHERS, JUSTICE.

         [¶ 1] The State appeals from a district court order suppressing evidence seized after a traffic stop. Suppression was based on the district court's finding that the law relied on by the stopping officer was unconstitutionally vague. The State argues the statute is not unconstitutionally vague, the officer had reasonable and articulable suspicion Patrick violated the law and the officer's mistake of law was reasonable. We reverse and remand.

         I

         [¶ 2] Watford City Police Officer Ryan Chaffee stopped Alexander Patrick because he had more than four white front facing lights on his truck, which Chaffee believed was a violation of N.D.C.C. § 39-21-25(2). Chaffee testified Patrick's vehicle had six front facing lights and the lights appeared brighter than other vehicles. Patrick's vehicle had four fog lights and two headlamps. Because of Patrick's previous contacts with law enforcement, Chaffee conducted a drug dog sniff on Patrick's vehicle. The dog alerted Chaffee to the presence of drugs in Patrick's vehicle. Upon searching the vehicle Chaffee discovered a loaded handgun, marijuana residue and cocaine. Chaffee charged Patrick with possessing cocaine with a firearm and carrying a loaded firearm in a vehicle.

         [¶ 3] Patrick moved to suppress the evidence obtained as a result of the traffic stop and subsequent search, arguing the stop was invalid because N.D.C.C. § 39-21-25(2) was unconstitutionally vague. N.D.C.C. § 39-21-25(2) states:

"Whenever a motor vehicle equipped with headlamps as herein required is also equipped with any auxiliary lamps or a spot lamp or any other lamp on the front thereof projecting a beam of intensity greater than three hundred candlepower, not more than a total of four of any such lamps on the front of a vehicle may be lighted at any one time when upon a highway."

         Patrick argued the term "candlepower" used in N.D.C.C. § 39-21-25(2) is unconstitutionally vague because it is obsolete and cannot be defined by reasonable people or enforced by law enforcement. The State argued although candlepower no longer is commonly used, it is a quantifiable term to define the amount of light emitted and provides a minimal guideline to determine whether a violation of law occurred.

         [¶ 4] The district court granted Patrick's motion to suppress, finding N.D.C.C. § 39-21-25(2) unconstitutionally vague and that the stop was not supported by reasonable and articulable suspicion. The State appeals.

         II

         [¶ 5] The central issue is whether the evidence supports Chaffee's determination he had reasonable suspicion to believe Patrick was in violation of N.D.C.C. § 39-21-25(2). "Questions of law and the ultimate conclusion about whether the facts support a reasonable and articulable suspicion are fully ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.