United States District Court, W.D. North Carolina, Asheville Division
Reidinger United States District Judge.
MATTER is before the Court on the Defendant's
Motion to Suppress [Doc. 12]; the Magistrate Judge's
Memorandum and Recommendation regarding that motion [Doc.
28]; and the Defendant's Objections to the Magistrate
Judge's Memorandum and Recommendation [Doc. 29].
August 10, 2017, the Honorable Dennis L. Howell, United
States Magistrate Judge, conducted an evidentiary hearing on
the motion to suppress. On November 14, 2017, the Magistrate
Judge issued a Memorandum and Recommendation, recommending
that the motion to suppress be denied. [Doc. 28]. The
Defendant timely filed Objections to the Memorandum and
Recommendation on November 28, 2017. [Doc. 29].
Objections, the Defendant argues that the Memorandum and
Recommendation should be rejected for two reasons. First, he
argues that the Magistrate Judge erred in finding that the
officers had probable cause to justify the traffic stop.
Second, he argues that the Magistrate Judge erred in finding
that the officers had reasonable suspicion to prolong the
respect to the issue of probable cause necessary to justify
the stop, the Defendant specifically takes issue with the
Magistrate Judge's refusal to consider certain evidence
of wind conditions in the area at the time of the stop,
evidence which was presented for the first time in the
Defendant's post-hearing brief. [See Doc. 24 at
2]. The Defendant requests that this Court take
“judicial notice” of this evidence and find that
the wind conditions at the time, along with the narrow and
winding nature of the roadway, negate the officers'
finding of probable cause to stop the driver for crossing
over the center line of the roadway. [Doc. 29 at 5-6].
Magistrate Judge did not err in refusing to consider the
proffered evidence of wind conditions, as it was not
presented at the evidentiary hearing on the motion to
suppress and no good cause has been shown for the
Defendant's failure to present this evidence in a timely
manner. Even if the proffered evidence of wind conditions
were considered, however, the Court finds that the Magistrate
Judge was correct in concluding that under the totality of
the circumstances, the officers had probable cause to believe
that the driver of the vehicle had committed a traffic
violation and was possibly driving under the influence. The
Defendant's first objection, therefore, is overruled.
respect to the issue of the duration of the stop, the
Defendant contends that the Magistrate Judge erred in
concluding that the traffic stop did not last any longer than
was necessary. Specifically, the Defendant argues that the
officers were not justified in extending the stop in order to
obtain his identification. He further argues that the
officers were not justified in prolonging the stop in order
to search the vehicle. [Doc. 29 at 7-9].
Defendant's arguments are without merit. It is
well-established that “a simple request for
identification from passengers falls within the purview of a
lawful traffic stop and does not constitute a separate Fourth
Amendment event.” United States v.
Soriano-Jarquin, 492 F.3d 495, 500 (4th Cir. 2007). As
long as the stop is lawful in its inception, “an
officer is entitled to some chance to gain his bearings and
to acquire a fair understanding of the surrounding scene.
Just as the officer may ask for the identification of the
driver of a lawfully stopped vehicle . . . ., so he may
request identification of the passengers also lawfully
stopped.” Id. Thus, the officers did not have
to have additional reasonable suspicion in order to request
some form of identification from the Defendant. Further,
while the Defendant argues that the officers were not
justified in searching the vehicle, the Defendant, as a
passenger in a vehicle that he did not own, did not have a
reasonable expectation of privacy in the space under the
passenger seat and therefore lacks standing to oppose the
search which revealed the presence of the Defendant's
firearm. See United States v. Flowers, 173 F.
App'x 240, 242 (4th Cir. 2006) (“A passenger does
not have a ‘legitimate expectation of privacy in the
car' driven by the owner ‘such that [the passenger
can] raise a Fourth Amendment challenge to a search of the
car's interior.'”) (quoting United States
v. Rusher, 966 F.2d 868, 874 (4th Cir. 1992). For all of
these reasons, the Defendant's second objection is also
conducting a de novo review of the Memorandum and
Recommendation, the Court finds that the Magistrate
Judge's proposed findings of fact are correct and that
the proposed conclusions of law are consistent with current
case law. Accordingly, the Court hereby overrules the
Defendant's Objections and accepts the Magistrate
Judge's recommendation that the Defendant's Motion to
Suppress should be denied.
IS, THEREFORE, ORDERED that the Defendant's
Objections to the Magistrate Judge's Memorandum and
Recommendation [Doc. 29] are OVERRULED; the
Magistrate Judge's Memorandum and Recommendation [Doc.
28] is ACCEPTED; and the Defendant's
Motion to Suppress [Doc. 12] is DENIED.