State v. Puig, 3267--PR

CourtSupreme Court of Arizona
Citation112 Ariz. 519,544 P.2d 201
Docket NumberNo. 3267--PR,3267--PR
PartiesSTATE of Arizona, Appellee, v. Robert Figueroa PUIG, Appellant.
Decision Date30 December 1975

Bruce E. Babbitt, Atty. Gen. by William J. Schafer, III, and Georgia C. Butcher, Asst. Attys. Gen., Phoenix, for appellee.

John M. Neis, Pima County Public Defender by Karen Zizmor, Asst. Public Defender, Tucson, for appellant.

HAYS, Justice.

Robert Figueroa Puig was convicted in the Superior Court of Pima County after trial without a jury of unlawful possession of marijuana for sale and unlawful transportation of marijuana. He was sentenced to serve 3 to 5 years in the Arizona State Prison. The Court of Appeals reversed the judgment and sentence. This court granted the state's petition for review. The decision of the Court of Appeals is vacated. State v. Puig, 23 Ariz.App. 516, 534 P.2d 447 (1975).

Puig, hereinafter referred to as the defendant, was driving on Interstate 10 in the vicinity of Ruthrauff Road on May 8, 1974. A highway patrol officer observed that the defendant used a hand signal to exit from Interstate 10 at the Ruthrauff Road exit. The officer stopped the defendant's vehicle since he suspected that the turn signals were inoperative. Defendant was immediately asked by the officer for his license and registration. He was unable to produce either, but was able to produce his fishing license. The officer made a radio check to determine whether defendant had a valid driver's license and to verify the vehicle's registration. The radio check revealed that defendant's license had expired and that the plates displayed did not belong to the vehicle. Defendant was advised of the officer's findings and was asked who the vehicle belonged to. Defendant stated that the vehicle was borrowed from a friend. A subsequent search of the trunk revealed the presence of two large plastic garbage bags filled with kilo bricks of marijuana.

The defendant presents three questions on appeal: 1) was the initial stop of the vehicle proper? 2) was the search of the vehicle trunk proper? 3) did the trial court err by its failure to dismiss the indictment pursuant to Rule 8.6, Rules of Criminal Procedure?

In answering defendant's first question, we have held that a police officer may stop a vehicle to check apparent defects in safety devices. State v. Harrison, 111 Ariz. 508, 533 P.2d 1143 (1975). The police officer testified that he asked defendant for his driver's license and registration after he approached defendant's vehicle. A police officer may first request the driver's license and registration before conducting a safety inspection. Once the defendant failed to produce a license or registration, it was proper for the officer to make the subsequent radio check. We find the initial stop of the vehicle proper.

Defendant next argues that the search of the vehicle's trunk was improper. After the police officer questioned defendant on the ownership of the vehicle, he asked defendant if he was aware of the contents of the trunk. Defendant stated that he was not. The officer then asked if he could look in the trunk. The defendant responded 'yes.' Defendant then took the keys from the ignition and walked to the front of the car where he spoke to the two other occupants of the vehicle. All three appeared nervous to the police officer. The officer and defendant subsequently went toward the rear of defendant's vehicle whereupon defendant fled and was subsequently apprehended. The officer then used the defendant's keys to open the trunk and discovered the two plastic bags of marijuana.

It is well-established law that a vehicle 'may be searched without a warrant upon facts not justifying a warrantless search of a residence or office.' Dyke v. Taylor Implement Manufacturing Co., 391 U.S. 216, 88 S.Ct. 1472, 20 L.Ed.2d 538 (1968). The right to search, however, is dependent on 'the reasonable cause the seizing officer has for belief that the contents of the automobile offend against the law.' Carroll v. United States, 267 U.S. 132, 45 S.Ct. 280, 69 L.Ed. 543 (1925). The exception to the requirement of a search warrant is based on the fact that '(T)he circumstances that furnish probable cause to search a particular auto for particular articles are most often unforeseeable; moreover, the opportunity to search is fleeting since a car is readily movable.' Chambers v. Maroney, 399 U.S. 42, 90 S.Ct. 1975, 26 L.Ed.2d 419 (1970); ...

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10 cases
  • State v. Stanley, 1
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Arizona
    • April 17, 1979
    ...U.S. 132, 45 S.Ct. 280, 69 L.Ed. 543 (1925); Chambers v. Maroney, 399 U.S. 42, 90 S.Ct. 1975, 26 L.Ed.2d 419 (1970). In State v. Puig, 112 Ariz. 519, 520-21, 544 P.2d 201, 202-03 (1975), the Arizona Supreme Court It is well-established law that a vehicle "may be searched without a warrant u......
  • Com. v. Smigliano
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts
    • May 20, 1998
    ...justified in activating overhead flashing lights and approaching defendant; citing Cady and declining to follow Dunbar ); State v. Puig, 112 Ariz. 519, 520, 544 P.2d 201 (1975) (officer justified in stopping defendant's motor vehicle and requesting to see his license and registration after ......
  • State v. Marshall, 890121-CA
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Utah
    • April 18, 1990
    ...when vehicle's headlight was out, a tail light was broken, the license plate and windows were obscured, and speeding); State v. Puig, 112 Ariz. 519, 544 P.2d 201, 202 (1975) (suspicion of defective turn signals justified stop); State v. Fuller, 556 A.2d 224, 224 (Me.1989) (stop justified wh......
  • Rheinlander v. State, 3-93-244-CR
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Texas
    • December 7, 1994
    ...Smith v. State, 301 Ark. 569, 785 S.W.2d 465, 466 (1990); State v. Vistuba, 251 Kan. 821, 840 P.2d 511, 514 (1992); State v. Puig, 112 Ariz. 519, 520, 544 P.2d 201, 202 The State in its brief has cited McDonald v. State, 759 S.W.2d 784 (Tex.App.--Fort Worth 1988, no pet.), which relied on C......
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