State v. Stout, Case No. 1905011621

CourtCourt of Common Pleas of Delaware
Writing for the CourtManning, J.
PartiesSTATE OF DELAWARE, v. CAYLA M. STOUT, Defendant.
Decision Date19 March 2020
Docket NumberCase No. 1905011621

STATE OF DELAWARE,
v.
CAYLA M. STOUT, Defendant.

Case No. 1905011621

COURT OF COMMON PLEAS FOR THE STATE OF DELAWARE IN AND FOR NEW CASTLE COUNTY

Submitted: January 23, 2020
March 19, 2020


Isaac Rank, Esquire
Deputy Attorney General
820 N. French Street, 7th Floor
Wilmington, DE 19801
Attorney for the State of Delaware

Joe Hurley, Esquire
1215 King Street
Wilmington, DE 19801
Attorney for Defendant

MEMORANDUM OPINION ON DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO SUPPRESS EVIDENCE

Manning, J.

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FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

On May 19, 2019, Cayla Stout (hereinafter "Defendant") was arrested by Trooper Santangelo (hereinafter "Santangelo") for the offense of Driving a Vehicle Under the Influence of Alcohol ("DUI") in violation of 21 Del. C. § 4177. The facts that gave rise to these proceedings indicate that Santangelo responded to a one-vehicle collision that transpired on Route 1 northbound near the Christiana Mall. When Santangelo arrived on the scene, Emergency Medical Services ("EMS") advised him that the operator of the vehicle appeared intoxicated. EMS further informed Santangelo that the operator of the vehicle would not listen to their repeated instructions. The operator of the vehicle was transported to Christiana Hospital for injuries sustained in the collision.

Upon Santangelo's arrival at the Christiana Hospital, he met the operator of the vehicle who identified as the Defendant. Defendant admitted to Santangelo that she was at Grain Craft Bar and consumed one alcoholic beverage, specifically a "Titos Vodka and Sprite," approximately three hours prior. The Defendant divulged that she did not consume any other alcoholic beverages. Santangelo detected a strong odor of alcohol coming from Defendant's person and further, observed that Defendant's eyes were glassy, watery and discolored. A warrant was subsequently obtained for a search of Defendant's blood.

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On December 4, 2019, Defendant filed a Motion to Suppress ("Motion"). On January 7, 2020, the Court held a hearing on the Motion. Upon conclusion of the hearing, the Court took the Motion under advisement. At the request of the Court, the State and Defendant both filed supplemental briefs following the hearing. On January 23, 2020, the State submitted its Response to Defendant's Motion to Suppress and Defendant submitted her Memorandum of Law.

PARTIES' CONTENTIONS

Defendant argues the arrest was not supported by probable cause and was unlawful. In support of this argument, Defendant avers the search warrant affidavit gave no indication of Santangelo's training and/or experience in impaired driving investigation and/or National Highway Traffic Safety Standards. Further, Defendant contends that Santangelo offered hearsay statements by EMS in the search warrant affidavit. In addition, Defendant states the strength or odor spirits associated with alcohol has no correlation to the amount of alcohol consumed. Moreover, Defendant advances that "discolored" eyes has no connection to being under the influence of alcohol. Lastly, Defendant notes the absence of mental impairment, behavior oddity and speech irregularity in Santangelo's observations and indications.

The State argues the arrest was supported by probable cause and was in fact lawful. The State asserts that the search warrant affidavit, indicating Defendant's involvement in a one vehicle collision, Defendant's bloodshot and glassy eyes, the

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smell of alcohol on Defendant's person, Defendant's admission to being at a bar earlier in the evening and drinking alcohol three hours prior, Defendant's dazed and confused state, and Defendant's inability to respond to EMS's instruction, supports a finding of probable cause. Furthermore, the State alleges that the EMS hearsay statements formed a basis of probable cause, because it was corroborated by multiple factors within Santangelo's personal knowledge.

LEGAL STANDARD

On a motion to suppress, the State must establish, by a preponderance of the evidence, that Defendant's arrest was supported by probable cause.1 To establish probable cause for a DUI arrest, the state "must present facts which suggest, when those facts are viewed under the totality of the circumstances, that there is a fair probability that the defendant has committed a DUI offense."2 This totality consideration is based on "the factual and practical considerations of everyday life on which reasonable and prudent men, not legal technicians, act."3 "The Court must examine the totality of circumstances surrounding the situation as viewed through

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the 'eyes of a reasonable trained police officer in similar circumstances, combining the objective facts with the officer's subjective interpretation of those facts.'"4

DISCUSSION

A. Probable Cause to Arrest

In Lefebvre, the Delaware Supreme Court held probable cause to arrest exists where an officer can "present facts which suggest, when those facts are viewed under the totality of the circumstances, that there is a fair...

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