Clay v. WyomingAnnotate this Case
Appellant Marvin Clay challenged the denial of his motion to suppress evidence supporting a conviction for driving under the influence of alcohol. The officer testified that he made the stop because the car did not have any license plates displayed. All he could see at that point was a white piece of paper in the upper left corner of the rear window, which was heavily tinted. Because he was unable to verify that the white piece of paper was a document which would allow Appellant to operate the vehicle temporarily, the officer approached the car and talked to him. He asked about the paper and if there was a bill of sale. The document in the window turned out to be a title, but more than forty-five days had elapsed since the transfer, and the officer could not tell if it was notarized, both of which were required for operation of the vehicle to be legal. Appellant said there was a bill of sale, and opened his wallet and started thumbing through it for that document, but he never pulled anything out. Appellant could not provide a driver’s license or proof of insurance either. Within the first minute of Appellant slowly flipping through his wallet, the officer observed signs of possible intoxication. A DUI Task Force officer was called, and three field sobriety tests were performed. Appellant "performed poorly" on all three. Appellant was ultimately charged, inter alia, with Driving Under the Influence, Fourth Offense. On appeal, Appellant argued that his detention was improperly expanded beyond the scope of the initial traffic stop, and that the evidence used to support the DUI arrest was discovered only after the unnecessary contact and therefore ought to have been suppressed. Finding no error in the trial court's decision, the Supreme Court affirmed.