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State v. Huffman

Court of Appeals of Washington, Division 1

December 22, 2014

The State of Washington, Respondent ,
v.
Sarah S. Huffman, Petitioner

Superior Court County: Snohomish. Superior Court Cause No: 11-1-00676-4. Superior Court Judge Signing: George Appel. Date filed in Superior Court: May 23, 2012.

Stephen G. Smith, for petitioner.

Mark K. Roe, Prosecuting Attorney, and John J. Juhl, Deputy, for respondent.

Concurred by: Verellen, A.C.J., Schindler, J.

OPINION

Page 904

[185 Wn.App. 100] Spearman, C.J.

[¶1] Sarah Huffman was arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI) after being pulled over for weaving in her lane, jerking back from and crossing the center line on State Route 9. She claimed the stop was unlawful because her single crossing of the center line did not give rise to reasonable, articulable suspicion that she committed a traffic infraction under RCW 46.61.140. The district court agreed and granted her motion to suppress all evidence obtained after the stop. On RALJ appeal, the superior court reversed, concluding the stop was valid because Huffman committed a traffic infraction by crossing the center line in violation of RCW 46.61.100. We granted Huffman's motion for discretionary review and affirm.

FACTS

[¶2] On October 18, 2010, Trooper Daniel Eberle was traveling southbound on State Route 9 when he observed [185 Wn.App. 101] the vehicle ahead of him weaving within its lane for approximately two miles. The two-mile section of the roadway is relatively straight, with a painted yellow line in the center that is at times a double solid line and at times a single dashed line. On that night, Trooper Eberle observed no visible debris or branches present that would cause a driver to deviate from the lane of travel. The trooper saw Huffman's vehicle touch the center line three times, each time immediately jerking back to the right side of the road. On the fourth occasion, the vehicle crossed the center line by approximately one full tire width. Trooper Eberle did not recall any oncoming traffic at the time the vehicle crossed over the center line. He stopped the vehicle and subsequently arrested the driver, appellant Sarah Huffman, for DUI.

[¶3] Huffman was charged with DUI in Snohomish County District Court. She moved to suppress all evidence obtained after the stop, including her prearrest screening and blood alcohol content (BAC) test results. Relying on our ruling in State v. Prado, 145 Wn.App. 646, 649, 186 P.3d 1186 (2008), Huffman argued that her momentary crossing of the center line was not a traffic infraction and, thus, there was no lawful basis for the stop. The State argued that the stop was lawful under RCW 46.61.100 and under Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1, 88 S.Ct. 1868, 20 L.Ed.2d 889 (1968). The district court agreed with Huffman and found the stop unlawful under Prado and because there were no reasonable grounds for suspicion that Huffman had committed a DUI. The court granted the motion and dismissed the case.

[¶4] On RALJ appeal the State argued the stop was valid under Terry and lawful under RCW 46.61.100 because Prado was inapplicable to that statute. The RALJ court ruled that Huffman's one time incursion over the

Page 905

center line did not violate RCW 46.61.140 but violated RCW 46.61.100 [185 Wn.App. 102] and therefore the infraction stop was lawful.[1] We granted Huffman's motion for discretionary review to consider whether the " as nearly as practicable" ...


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