Heard in the Court of Appeals February 18, 2015
Pitt County. No. 07 CRS 58124.
Attorney General Roy Cooper, by Assistant Attorney General J. Aldean Webster III, for the state.
The Robinson Law Firm, P.A., by Leslie S. Robinson, for defendant.
TYSON, Judge. Judges STEPHENS and HUNTER, JR. concur.
Appeal by defendant from judgment entered 26 March
2014 by Judge Alma L. Hinton in Pitt County Superior Court.
Defendant appeals from the denial of his motions to suppress the investigatory stop of his vehicle and to quash the citation charging him with driving while impaired. We affirm.
Officer Chad Edwards was on duty in the early Sunday morning hours of 12 August 2007. Officer Edwards had four years of experience as a police officer, and had been employed by the East Carolina University Police Department for nearly a year. At approximately 2:37 a.m., Officer Edwards was standing beside his patrol car in the driveway of the Chancellor's residence on East Fifth Street. The Chancellor's residence is located directly across the street from the East Carolina University campus, three to four blocks from downtown Greenville. There are numerous bars and nightclubs located in the downtown area. The area around the Chancellor's residence is mostly comprised of student housing.
Officer Edwards was speaking with two women when he observed a grey Jeep Cherokee traveling toward downtown on East Fifth Street. The Jeep swerved to the right, crossed the white line marking the outside lane of travel, and almost hit the curb. The vehicle continued on East Fifth Street, and Officer Edwards observed nothing else unusual about the vehicle.
Officer Edwards testified he was concerned the vehicle would swerve again and strike a pedestrian. He stated pedestrian traffic in this immediate area was much heavier than normal. Students had moved back onto campus, but had not resumed their classes. The bars and nightclubs had stopped serving alcohol at 2:00 a.m., shortly before Officer Edwards observed the Jeep. Officer Edwards testified that one of the nightclubs located downtown has a capacity of 800 patrons, and it generally operated at full capacity on a Saturday night. About a dozen other establishments in the area serve alcohol. Many pedestrians were walking along the sidewalks on their way home from the bars and nightclubs in the downtown area. Officer Edwards testified some pedestrians were walking in the bicycle lane, and it was not unusual to observe some pedestrians walking in the road.
After he observed the grey Jeep swerve, Officer Edwards left the Chancellor's driveway and pulled into the roadway behind the vehicle. He activated his blue lights and initiated a traffic stop. Officer Edwards, along with two other police officers, determined defendant, the driver, was impaired and arrested him. Defendant was transported to the Pitt County Detention Center and administered an Intoxilyzer test to determine his blood alcohol concentration. The Intoxilyzer test revealed a blood alcohol concentration of .011.
Defendant was tried before the Pitt County District Court on 12 November 2013, and was convicted of driving while impaired. He appealed the conviction to Pitt County Superior
Court. Prior to trial, the Superior Court denied defendant's motion to suppress evidence obtained from the traffic stop and to quash the citation.
The case was tried before a jury and defendant was convicted of driving while impaired. The trial court found aggravating factors of a prior driving while impaired conviction within seven years, and defendant was driving with a revoked license at the time of his arrest. He was sentenced as a Level 1 offender to a term of eighteen months of supervised probation, and was ordered to serve an active term of thirty days in prison. Defendant appeals.
Defendant argues the trial court: (1) lacked jurisdiction to enter judgment on his driving while impaired conviction, because defendant did not sign the citation to acknowledge receipt and Officer Edwards did not certify delivery of the citation; (2) failed to enter a written order on the denial of his motion to suppress; and, (3) erred in denying his motion to suppress, because Officer Edwards did not form a reasonable articulable suspicion that defendant was impaired.
III. Motion to Quash the Citation
Defendant asserts the trial court erred by denying his pretrial motion to quash the citation, which charged him with driving while impaired, because he did not sign the citation and Officer Edwards did not certify the delivery of the citation as mandated by N.C. Gen. Stat. § 15A-302(d) (2013). He argues Officer Edwards's failure to follow the procedure set forth in the statute for service of a citation ...