State v. Pastorini, A96A0694

CourtUnited States Court of Appeals (Georgia)
Writing for the CourtPOPE; BEASLEY; ANDREWS
Citation222 Ga.App. 316,474 S.E.2d 122
Docket NumberNo. A96A0694,A96A0694
Decision Date12 July 1996

Page 122

474 S.E.2d 122
222 Ga.App. 316
No. A96A0694.
Court of Appeals of Georgia.
July 12, 1996.
Certiorari Granted Oct. 18, 1996.

Page 123

[222 Ga.App. 320] Gerald N. Blaney, Jr., Sol., Richard E. Thomas, Allison L. Thatcher, Asst. Solicitors, for appellant.

William C. Head, for appellee.

[222 Ga.App. 316] POPE, Presiding Judge.

The State appeals from the trial court's ruling finding inadmissible the field sobriety tests administered to Pastorini. We affirm in part and reverse in part.

The record in this case demonstrates that on January 28, 1995, shortly after 10:00 p.m., Gwinnett County Officer Griffith was dispatched to investigate a minor traffic accident on Peachtree Parkway. He found a Lexus and a Mitsubishi pulled to the side of the road, with the drivers waiting outside their vehicles. The Lexus was slightly damaged on the front of the passenger's side and Pastorini's Mitsubishi was dented on the front driver's side. Officer Griffith observed that Pastorini's face was flushed, his eyes red, bloodshot, and glazed, he was unsteady on his feet, and he "smelled strongly of alcoholic beverage." Pastorini had his driver's license in his hand, but had left his insurance card in his vehicle. When asked for it by the officer, he started toward his car. He was unsteady on his feet and had to use the car to steady himself. The officer obtained the licenses and insurance cards of both drivers and retained them.

Page 124

[222 Ga.App. 317] Officer Griffith asked Pastorini how much he had had to drink and Pastorini said "three scotches." Asked if he thought he should be driving, Pastorini replied, "no, I should be at home." Asked what had happened in the accident, Pastorini replied he did not know.

1. The trial court concluded that, after this exchange, if not sooner, Pastorini was not free to leave the scene, i.e., was in custody, and that the field sobriety tests administered thereafter were inadmissible due to lack of Miranda warnings. We disagree. In Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436, 86 S.Ct. 1602, 16 L.Ed.2d 694 (1966), the United States Supreme Court held that a person taken into official police custody or otherwise deprived by police of their freedom of action in any significant way must be advised of their constitutional rights. In its decision, however, the Supreme Court failed to set forth what was meant by "in custody." But, it later addressed this issue in Berkemer v. McCarty, 468 U.S. 420, 104 S.Ct. 3138, 82 L.Ed.2d 317 (1984).

In that case, the Supreme Court formulated an objective test to determine whether a detainee is "in custody." That test is whether a reasonable person in the detainee's position would have thought the detention would not be temporary. Id. at 442, 104 S.Ct. at 3151-52. The Supreme Court also held that the safeguards prescribed by Miranda become applicable only after a detainee's "freedom of action is curtailed to a 'degree associated with formal arrest.' [Cit.]" Id. at 440, 104 S.Ct. at 3150. The rationale behind the holding is that although an ordinary traffic stop curtails the freedom of action of the detained motorist and imposes some pressures on the detainee to answer questions, such pressures do not sufficiently impair the detainee's exercise of his privilege against self-incrimination so as to require that he be advised of his constitutional rights.

In applying the above-mentioned test and rationale, we have specifically held that roadside questioning during the investigation of a routine traffic incident generally does not constitute a custodial situation. Crum v. State, 194 Ga.App. 271, 272, 390 S.E.2d 295 (1990). "A law enforcement officer coming upon the scene of suspected criminal activity [or a traffic incident] will conduct a general on-the-scene investigation and may detain temporarily anyone at the scene who tries to leave...." Lankford v. State, 204 Ga.App. 405, 406-407(2), 419 S.E.2d 498 (1992). Moreover, "[a]n officer conducting a routine traffic stop may request and examine a driver's license and vehicle registration and run a computer check on these documents. [Cits.]" Rogers v. State, 206 Ga.App. 654, 657(2), 426 S.E.2d 209 (1992). The fact that an officer retains a detainee's license for a short period during the course of an investigation does not necessarily mean that the detainee is in custody, even if at that point, by leaving, the detainee could be arrested for violating State law. See Crum, 194 Ga.App. at [222 Ga.App. 318] 272, 390 S.E.2d 295, where we found a driver who could not show proof of insurance during a routine traffic stop, and thus could have been arrested if he attempted to leave, was not "in custody" until after he had been given...

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  • Mitchell v. State, S17A0459
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Georgia
    • 26 Junio 2017
    ...such as the HGN test. See generally Stewart v. State, 280 Ga. App. 366, 368-369 (2), 634 S.E.2d 141 (2006) ; State v. Pastorini, 222 Ga. App. 316, 318-319 (2), 474 S.E.2d 122 (1996).3 In the case before us, the only witnesses at the hearing on the motions in limine were the police officers,......
  • State v. Turnquest, S19A0157.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Georgia
    • 6 Mayo 2019
    ...when field sobriety tests were administered, without citing any Georgia statute or constitutional provision. See State v. Pastorini, 222 Ga. App. 316, 317-18 (1), 474 S.E.2d 122 (1996) ; State v. Whitfield, 214 Ga. App. 574, 574-575 (3), 448 S.E.2d 492 (1994). Whatever the specific basis fo......
  • State v. Kirbabas, No. A98A1020
    • United States
    • United States Court of Appeals (Georgia)
    • 6 Mayo 1998
    ...v. State, 232 Ga.App. 61, 66-67(4), 499 S.E.2d 422 (1998); Morrissette v. State, supra at 421-422, 494 S.E.2d 8; State v. Pastorini, 222 Ga.App. 316, 317-318(1), 474 S.E.2d 122 Further, "field sobriety tests are not `statements.' They are `not evidence of a testimonial or communicative natu......
  • Hawkins v. State, A96A2126
    • United States
    • United States Court of Appeals (Georgia)
    • 1 Octubre 1996 the layperson as to the expert, to such a standard of admissibility. Harper, supra at 524, 292 S.E.2d 389; State v. Pastorini, 222 Ga.App. 316, 474 S.E.2d 122 (1996); Crawford v. City of Forest Park, 215 Ga.App. 234, 450 S.E.2d 237 (1994); accord Mendoza v. State, 196 Ga.App. 627, 630, 3......
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