State v. Goodrich, 2021-175

Case DateJuly 14, 2022
CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Vermont

State of Vermont

Ashley Goodrich

No. 2021-175

Supreme Court of Vermont

July 14, 2022

In the case title, an asterisk (*) indicates an appellant and a double asterisk (**) indicates a cross-appellant. Decisions of a three-justice panel are not to be considered as precedent before any tribunal

APPEALED FROM: Superior Court, Rutland Unit, Criminal Division CASE NOS. 20-CS-00135 &20-CR-01705 Trial Judge: David R. Fenster


In the above-entitled cause, the Clerk will enter:

Defendant appeals from the civil suspension of her driver's license and her conviction, based on a conditional guilty plea, for driving under the influence (DUI). She challenges the trial court's denial of her motion to suppress evidence obtained from an exit order. We affirm.

The State charged defendant with DUI #1 and initiated a civil-suspension proceeding following a September 2020 traffic stop. She filed a motion to suppress and dismiss in both dockets, arguing that the state trooper lacked reasonable suspicion of criminal wrongdoing to order her to exit her vehicle. The court denied the motion on the record following a hearing.

The court found as follows, relying on the trooper's testimony. The trooper received a call from the Rutland City Police Department dispatch to be on the lookout for a red Subaru Impreza with temporary registration because an anonymous tipster had observed the female operator of this vehicle to be acting impaired at the Midway Smart Shop. Dispatch indicated that this vehicle would be in the area of the Dollar General on North Main Street in Rutland City. The court noted that it was not clear where the Midway was located in relation to the Dollar General. The trooper observed a matching vehicle with temporary registration exit the parking lot of this Dollar General, and he initiated a traffic stop. The trooper identified defendant as the operator of the car and the sole person in the vehicle. He observed her to have an odor of intoxicants. When the trooper asked defendant if she had consumed any alcohol that night, she admitted to having had one seltzer drink. Defendant did not have any indicators of intoxication, such as watery or bloodshot eyes or slurred speech, other than the odor of intoxicants and the admission of having consumed alcohol. The trooper ordered defendant to exit the vehicle to perform field sobriety exercises, ultimately resulting in the DUI charge now at issue.

The court concluded that these facts demonstrated reasonable suspicion supporting the exit order. It considered the totality of circumstances known to the trooper, including discovering a vehicle matching the description from an anonymous tip at the specified location, the report that the operator of this vehicle was observed to be impaired, the odor of intoxicants,


and defendant's admission to having consumed alcohol. The court reasoned that, collectively, these pieces of information created reasonable suspicion to justify ordering defendant to exit her vehicle.

Defendant subsequently entered into a conditional plea agreement allowing her to appeal from the court's ruling on the suppression motion. The court entered judgment for the State in the civil-suspension matter. This appeal followed.

Defendant concedes that the initial traffic...

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