Did you know an officer must have reasonable suspicion (that a crime has occurred) to make a traffic stop?
In State v. Holler, 2021-Ohio-4599, the 9th District Court of Appeals recently reviewed the conviction of a defendant whose motion to suppress evidence of drugs and a firearm was denied at trial. Specifically, an officer stopped Mr. Holler for driving over the double yellow line. The officer collected Mr. Holler’s information and briefly returned to his cruiser before reapproaching Mr. Holler’s vehicle. During their second exchange, the officer had Mr. Holler exit his vehicle and walk to the front of the deputy’s cruiser. While standing outside, Mr. Holler admitted having an open container of alcohol and a concealed firearm in his car. The officer, ultimately ,searched Mr. Holler and his vehicle, resulting in charges for improperly handling a firearm in a motor vehicle, carrying a concealed weapon, violation of lanes of travel on roadways, aggravated possession of drugs, and possession of drugs.
After reviewing the facts of the case, the Court of Appeals held that, even if the officer had reasonable suspicion to make the traffic stop, the trial court failed to determine whether the officer had a constitutional basis to extend the defendant’s detention beyond the initial purpose of the stop. Conviction reversed and remanded because the trial court erred in failing to consider whether the continued detention was based on reasonable suspicion.