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State v Holt-50 minutes DUI investigative detention is not unreasonable

State v. Holt, A15A1483, Reversed, November 17, 2015. Jamie Sue Holt was arrested in Cherokee County, Georgia by the Georgia State Patrol after police spoke with her at a gas pump at a Kroger Gas Station while investigating another separate DUI incident.  On April 28, 2014, a Georgia State Trooper was dispatched to a Kroger Gas Station because of a driver who side-swiped a vending machine.  The Trooper arrived at 4:44 pm. At 4:51 pm, a customer directed the Trooper to Ms. Holt who was acting strange. The Trooper spoke with Ms. Holt who had an odor of alcohol and red and glassy eyes.  After admitting to drinking, Holt submitted to a portable breath test which indicated 0.124 over the Georgia per se legal limit of 0.08.  The Trooper told her to hang out and he would test her again and see if the results go down at which point the Trooper may arrange a ride home.  She was free to move about but not leave from 4:51 to 5:07 when she tested the same 0.124.  At 5:07 pm, the Trooper told her to hang out while he handled the other DUI investigation, and later she would be given some field sobriety evaluations.  At 5:10 the first Trooper spoke with another Trooper whom he told that he had two “DUIs,” and he would give the other Trooper one of the DUIs. Ms. Holt heard the first Trooper say this on the phone to the other Trooper, although she did not hear the other Trooper’s response. The Second Trooper arrived at 5:40 pm and began field sobriety evaluations on Ms. Holt and arrested Holt for DUI at 5:48 pm. The Trooper read Holt implied consent at 5:53 pm over an hour later after her first encounter with law enforcement.  The Trial Court granted the Defendant’s motion to suppress finding that Holt was under arrest at 5:10 pm when the first Trooper told the second Trooper that he had 2 DUIs, the field sobriety tests were suppressed due to the lack of Miranda after arrest, and the State’s chemical test was suppressed due to Implied Consent being read almost 43 minutes after arrest.

First, the Court of Appeals found that OCGA 5-7-1(a)(5) 2-day appeal deadline for the State does not apply to drug and alcohol test evidence.

Second, the Court of Appeals held that Ms. Holt’s detention did not become a de facto arrest after Ms. Holt heard the first Trooper tell the second Trooper that he had two DUIs.  The Court of Appeals reasoned that he could have meant two “DUI Investigations.”  The Court of Appeals found that an investigation does not transition to an arrest unless a reasonable person in the suspect’s position would have thought the detention would not be temporary. It is the reasonable belief of an ordinary person under such circumstances, and not the subjective belief or intent of the officer, that determines whether an arrest has been effected. Lewis v. State, 294 Ga. App. 607, 608 (1) (a), 669 SE2d 558 (2008). See Christy v. State, 315 Ga. App. 647, 652 (2), 727 SE2d 269 (2012) (accord); State v. Norris, 281 Ga. App. 193, 195 ;635 SE2d 810 (2006). Further, the Court of Appeals found that Holt was not handcuffed but neither was the other individual that was arrested for DUI.  Holt was detained pending more testing and not told she was being taken to jail.

Third, the Court of Appeals held that the duration of the investigative detention of 53 minutes was not unreasonable such that the investigative detention ripened into an arrest.  Investigative detention can not be prolonged beyond the time reasonably required to fulfill the purpose of the stop.  Langston v. State, 302 Ga. App. 541, 543; 691 SE2d 349 (2010). The Court of Appeals held that 53 minutes was not unreasonable given that 30 minutes of that was spent investigating another DUI and not Ms. Holt. See DiMauro v. State, 310 Ga. App. 526, 529 (1) (714 SE2d 105) (2011) (delay of 20 minutes caused by the need to summon the second officer did not transform investigative detention into a custodial arrest); Thomas v. State, 294 Ga. App. 108, 110 (1) (668 SE2d 540) (2008) (Where evidence showed wait for assistance from other officers lasted between a “few minutes” and “probably 40 minutes,” the delay by itself did not convert investigation into the custodial situation); Harper, 243 Ga. App. 705, 706 (1); 534 S.E.2d 157 (2000)(delay of up to an hour before the DUI task force officer arrived did not cause investigatory detention to ripen into an arrest); Aldridge v. State, 237 Ga. App. 209, 213 (3) (515 SE2d 397) (1999) (a delay of 45 to 50 minutes, wherein deputies had to wait for another deputy to arrive with an alco-sensor, and then spent time looking for consent to search forms, did not exceed bounds of investigative detention).

Fourth, the Court of Appeals held that there was no Miranda violation as any preliminary questioning and field sobriety occurred during the investigative detention so Miranda was not implicated.

Fifth, the Court of Appeals held that Implied Consent was not untimely as Holt was not under arrest at 5:10 pm.

-Author: George Creal

Atlanta DUI Attorney | DUI Lawyer Atlanta