Taylor v. StateAnnotate this Case
Cambridge Police Officer Mothersell stopped petitioner at 1:00 a.m. after observing him speeding and failing to stop at a stop sign. Mothersell – the only witness at the suppression hearing – said that, when he approached the passenger side of the vehicle, he detected a minor odor of alcohol coming from petitioner’s breath and person, even though petitioner was several feet away, in the driver’s seat. Mothersell observed that petitioner’s speech was slurred and hard to understand and that his eyes were bloodshot and glassy. Petitioner said that he had been at the Point Break bar. Mothersell had petitioner exit the car so he could perform field sobriety tests, which petitioner did not complete successfully. Petitioner was placed under arrest. A backup officer arrived. Mothersell placed petitioner in the rear seat of his squad car to advise him of his rights, while the backup officer searched petitioner's car and found the cocaine inside the front seat center armrest. Mothersell said that the sole purpose for the search was to locate any “other alcohol, open containers, anything pertaining to the DUI arrest.” The court denied a motion to suppress; the Court of Special Appeals affirmed the ensuing conviction. The Maryland Court of Appeals affirmed. In this case there was an articulable basis for suspicion: the arresting officer’s prior experiences of finding open containers inside the passenger compartment.