United States District Court, D. Utah, Central Division
ORDER DENYING MOTION TO SUPPRESS
WADDOUPS UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Jesse Aaron Chandler has filed a motion to suppress the
evidence found during the search of the vehicle in this case.
(Dkt. No. 22.) On February 9, 2017, the court held an
evidentiary hearing on the motion. (See Dkt. No.
24.) After the evidentiary hearing, the parties submitted
briefing in support of their positions. (Dkt. Nos. 31, 32
& 35.) On April 11, 2017, the court heard oral argument
on the motion. Upon careful consideration of the record
evidence, briefing, oral arguments, and relevant legal
authorities, the court DENIES the motion to suppress.
Wood stopped Mr. Chandler for speeding at approximately
4:45:22 on November 10, 2016. (Hrg. Tr. (“Tr.”)
at 16:20-23, Dkt. No. 33.) Trooper Wood explained the purpose
of the stop and Mr. Chandler agreed he had been speeding.
(Id. at 17:13-24.) Trooper Wood asked for his
license and Mr. Chandler provided a Kansas identification
card, later explaining that his license was suspended.
(Id. at 18:1-11, 29:13-14.) Trooper Wood asked for
the vehicle registration and Mr. Chandler informed him that
the car was a rental vehicle rented by a
“Lauren.” (Id. at 18:13-25.) Viewing the
rental contract, Trooper Wood saw the rental car was three
days overdue and Mr. Chandler was not a registered driver on
the contract. (Id. at 19:13-20:10.) At approximately
4:47:42, Trooper Wood invited Mr. Chandler back to the patrol
car while Trooper Wood filled out the citation. (Id.
at 20:20-25.) Mr. Chandler agreed. (Id.)
writing the citation, Trooper Wood asked Mr. Chandler about
his travel plans and arrest history. (Id. at 22-24.)
Mr. Chandler disclosed that he had previously been arrested
for a high speed chase and aggravated assault and that he was
traveling from Las Vegas, though he was inconsistent in
recounting how long he had been there. (Id. at
24:16-21, 25:15-19.) At approximately 4:52:08, Trooper Wood
called for a records and driver's license check, and
contacted dispatch for backup from another officer.
(Id. at 26-27.) The second officer arrived at
approximately 4:55:39, three minutes after Trooper Wood
called for the backup. (Id. at 30:17-23.) During
this time Trooper Wood continued filling out the citation and
asking Mr. Chandler questions about the rental car, his
criminal status, and his travel plans. (Id. at
27-30.) Trooper Wood discovered that Mr. Chandler was on
parole and that he was traveling from Kansas to Las Vegas and
back. (Id. at 30:3-14.)
approximately 4:56:22--while the second officer was present
and before the records check returned--Trooper Wood exited
the patrol car to run his narcotics-detection dog around the
vehicle. (Id. at 30:24-34:2; see Dkt. No.
25, Exs. 22-24 (training certifications for the dog and
Trooper Wood).) At 4:56:38, the dog indicated at the front of
the vehicle to the presence of a narcotics odor. (Tr.
34:4-19.) The records check returned approximately six or
seven seconds before the dog indicated, though Trooper Wood
told dispatch to stand by with the information while Mr.
Chandler was within earshot. (Id. at 35:24-34:6.)
eleven minutes passed between the initial stop and the
dog's indication. Trooper Wood estimated that, on
average, he completes a normal traffic stop in ten to
seventeen minutes. (Id. at 58:6-8.)
Fourth Amendment . . . prohibits an unreasonable search or
seizure. Since a traffic stop itself is a seizure, the Fourth
Amendment requires the stop to be justified at its inception
and reasonably limited in scope.” United States v.
Rice, 483 F.3d 1079, 1082 (10th Cir. 2007) (citations
omitted). “A justifiable stop must not exceed the
reasonable duration required to complete the purpose of the
the parties do not dispute that the traffic stop was
justified at its inception: Mr. Chandler admitted to
speeding. (Dkt. No. 31, p. 5.) Mr. Chandler argues, however,
that Trooper Wood's conduct exceeded the reasonable scope
of the stop and that Trooper Wood lacked reasonable suspicion
to prolong the stop to conduct a canine sniff. (Id.
Trooper Wood's conduct did not exceed the reasonable
scope of the traffic stop and did not prolong the
seizure for a traffic violation justifies a police
investigation of that violation.” Rodriguez v.
United States __U.S.__, 135 S.Ct. 1609, 1614, (2015).
“[T]he tolerable duration of police inquiries in the
traffic-stop context is determined by the seizure's
‘mission'-to address the traffic violation that
warranted the stop, and attend to related safety
concerns.” Id. (citation omitted). Though an
officer may not extend a traffic stop beyond the reasonable
duration necessary to address its purpose, “an officer
has wide discretion to take reasonable precautions to protect
his safety” during the stop. Rice, 483 F.3d at
1083-84. An officer conducting a routine traffic stop may
request a driver's license and vehicle registration, run
a computer check, ask routine questions about the
driver's travel plans, and issue a citation. United
States v. Bradford, 423 F.3d 1149, 1156 (10th Cir.
2005). In addition, “an officer may ask questions,
whether or not related to the purpose of a traffic stop, if
they do not excessively prolong the stop.” United
States v. Simpson, 609 F.3d 1140, 1146 n.1
(10th Cir. 2010). “Authority for the seizure . . . ends
when tasks tied to the traffic infraction are-or reasonably
should have been-completed.” Rodriguez, 135
S.Ct. at 1614.
court finds that Trooper Wood's actions did not prolong
or exceed the scope of the traffic stop. Viewing the
circumstances of this case as a whole, Trooper Wood undertook
ordinary, reasonable inquiries incident to the traffic stop.
See Rodriguez, 135 S.Ct. at 1615. Trooper Wood
testified that typical traffic stops take an average of ten
to seventeen minutes, and Mr. Chandler presents no evidence
to contradict the Trooper's testimony on this point. The
overall duration of the stop here--eleven minutes--falls on
the low end of Trooper Wood's estimate. Moreover, an
eleven minute stop is reasonable under Tenth Circuit
precedent. See, e.g., United States v.
Kitchell, 653 F.3d 1206, 1218 (10th Cir. 2011) (finding
a twenty-two minute stop reasonable where officer (1)
explained the reason for the stop, (2) obtained information
from vehicle occupants, (3) examined and inquired as to the
car rental agreement, and (4) requested and waited for a
warrant check); United States v. Briseno, 163 F.
App'x 658, 664 (10th Cir. 2006) (unpublished) (finding
nineteen minutes reasonable to question the driver and
passenger about their travel plans, check their license and
registration, and run a computer check); see also United
States v. Shareef, 100 F.3d 1491, 1501-02 (10th Cir.
1996) (holding that where police “computers used to
verify license information were down or slow” and the
driver was not carrying a license, “a detention of
thirty minutes, given the totality of the circumstances . . .
The canine sniff did not unconstitutionally ...