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Superior Court Cases

I. Anonymous Information/Citizen Complaints of DWI
2004 | 2003 | 2000 | 1999 | 1997 | 1996 | 1995 | 1994 | 1993 | Miscellaneous
Gellatly v. Beecher, 04-E-037, (Merrimack, Fitzgerald, 07/06/04) AFFIRMED
Officer received information from dispatcher that a red truck was traveling northbound on Route 28, crossing over the white line, and almost hitting a guardrail. Officer observed the red truck exiting the traffic circle, failing to use its turn signal. Petitioner challenged reasonable grounds to make a stop based on hearsay information … and violating his due process rights. Court disagrees. Lopez and Jacobs "The validity of the arrest or traffic stop leading to the arrest is not required by RSA 265:91-b … to sustain an administrative license suspension." (NOTE: cross-reference Section 8, I Informing of ALS rights)
Andrewchuk v. Beecher, 03-E-453, (Merrimack, Fitzgerald, 04/12/04) AFFIRMED
Officer received a report that the driver of a white Dodge Ram coming from … was intoxicated; officer observed a vehicle matching this description … crossing over the center yellow line; petitioner admitted that he was drunk; arrested for DWI; tested at 0.19; Petitioner claimed that police did not have reason to believe he was driving while intoxicated. Court held" "A valid arrest and traffic stop …is not necessary to sustain a valid license suspension under said statute." Lopez "… the police had reason to believe that … was operating a vehicle while intoxicated, prior to his arrest." (NOTE: cross-reference Section 9, IV, miscellaneous issues involving breath tests)
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Fecteau v. Beecher, 03-E-68, (Carroll, O'Neill, 10/31/03) AFFIRMED
Arrested for DWI after being stopped due to a report of a possible impaired driver; refused breath test; officers formed the opinion that Petitioner was impaired by alcohol due to Petitioner's behavior and the odor of alcholic beverage; Court held: Hearings Examiner properly credited the testimony and the experience of the trooper in his decision to sustain the suspension.
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Sharcot v. Beecher, 00-E-186, (ND Hillsborough Sullivan, 9/13/00) AFFIRMED
Officer received information from dispatcher that employee at Humane Society observed customer under the influence; employee gave description of vehicle, license plate number and direction of travel; officer ran license plate number and obtained address; observed plaintiff as she was turning on to her street; stopped vehicle without obtaining independent corroboration; arrested for DWI; court held that "… an identified citizen witnessed Petitioner in the Humane Society, concluded that Petitioner was intoxicated, and observed that Petitioner had difficulty backing out of her parking space. After watching Petitioner drive onto a public road, the witness communicated her observations to police dispatch, along with her own name and workplace … This case does not involve an 'informant‘ but rather an 'ordinary citizen‘ who witnessed Petitioner driving while intoxicated…Nor did the dispatcher or Sergeant Kemp have any duty to establish the witness's credibility prior to relying on her information", citing State v. Melanson and State v. Corey. (NOTE: cross-reference to Section I of probable cause)
Hoffman v. Beecher, 00-E-197, (Merrimack, Fitzgerald, 8/18/00) AFFIRMED
Officer received information from dispatcher that cellular telephone caller reported that a red, mid-sized vehicle with large dent in passenger door was swerving and almost hit guardrail on Route 93, near Exit 14; officer observed vehicle on Loudon Road, straddling the lanes and making wide turn into apartment complex; "In this case, the Court concludes that the citizen's report was proven to be reliable and, when combined with the other information available to the police, provided reasonable suspicion to stop the petitioner's vehicle. Officer Boyd confirmed the general description and unlawful operation of the vehicle prior to executing the stop, which support a conclusion that the citizen had personally observed the vehicle in question … By corroborating those details, the police could infer that the citizen was reliable (despite the presumption) and that the allegations about the petitioner's driving while intoxicated were true", citing several cases. (NOTE: very detailed decision, distinguishing between citizen complaints and anonymous tips/informants!)
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Tyler v. Beecher, 99-E-41, (Cheshire, Arnold, 11/29/99) AFFIRMED
Trooper received information from dispatcher that unidentified caller had reported a possible drunk driver which had almost run another vehicle off the road; caller provided license number and description of vehicle as well as direction of travel; trooper observed vehicle within 60 seconds of dispatch and stopped vehicle, based solely upon information provided by unidentified caller; plaintiff claimed that trooper should have looked for independent verification of impaired operation; court held that "… the information provided by the cell caller was reasonably specific, particularly in light of the issues of public safety presented, to institute an investigatory stop", citing State v. Melanson. (NOTE: cross-reference to Section V of refusal)
Wedge v. Beecher, 99-E-488, (SD Hillsborough Brennan, 7/30/99) REVERSED
Officer received information from dispatch pertaining to a possible drunk driver; anonymous caller had reported observing a person enter a store who appeared intoxicated and left in a blue Ford Tempo bearing license CVU580; trooper observed vehicle and stopped it, without observing anything erratic or unusual about the operation of the vehicle; "In sum, the caller had a basis of knowledge with respect to his or her description of the blue Ford Tempo. Further, the caller was reliable and credible with respect to the description of the car. However, the caller lacked a basis of knowledge, and thus, could not be shown to be reliable or credible with respect to whether the person in the store was intoxicated, whether the person in the store drove the blue Ford Tempo away from the store and whether the driver of the blue Ford Tempo was intoxicated. The caller's report amounts to a reliable description of a car while it was at a store. The caller's report lacked a basis of knowledge with respect to and a reliable description of the driver of the car or any indication that the driver was intoxicated. As such, the information provided by the caller did not provide and could not establish the requisite reasonable suspicion to justify a stop of the vehicle to investigate the driver for driving while intoxicated". (NOTE: cross-reference to Section IV of procedural issues involving ALS cases)
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Traina v. Beecher, 97-E-339, (Rockingham, Gray, 10/22/97) AFFIRMED
Officer received information from dispatch pertaining to a possible drunk driver in a green Camaro; officer observed a greenish-blue Corvette in the area and stopped it, believing that colors and models can be mistaken at night in the dark; court held that "in checking the vehicle after a report of a possible drunk driver, the officer was doing that which we all expect of officers, to protect the public from, among other things, drunk drivers. Had the officer not stopped the vehicle, many would have said he was remiss, especially if it had struck or killed another motorist".
Pellerin v. Beecher, 97-E-168, (Merrimack, McGuire, 9/19/97) AFFIRMED
Officer received information from dispatch pertaining to a possible drunk driver; officer was given the location, direction of travel, color, make, model and license plate number of vehicle; officer stopped vehicle solely upon the basis of the report from dispatch; caller who reported information was identified as a citizen who observed plaintiff at her place of work, although officer was not aware of that at time he stopped the vehicle; court held that "particularly where public safety is at issue, police officers must be permitted to stop a vehicle without being personally aware of the specific facts that led to the issuance of the bulletin, and without having to delay the stop in order to independently develop reasonable suspicion"; court concluded that "given the grave consequences of allowing a drunk driver to remain on the road, the Court finds that public safety considerations in this case outweighed the minimal intrusion on the petitioner's interests". (NOTE: this was an extremely detailed opinion on the issue of citizen complaints and reasonable grounds for stop, citing several cases!)
Normandeau v. Beecher, 97-E-177, (Merrimack, Manias, 8/7/97) AFFIRMED
Officer received information from dispatch pertaining to a possible drunk driver; information included registration number and make of vehicle; officer observed vehicle traveling at excessive speed and once emergency lights were activated, vehicle appeared to be evading officer; sufficient to stop. (NOTE: cross-reference to Section I of probable cause)
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Mandigo v. Beecher, 96-E-285, (ND Hillsborough Abramson, 12/18/96) AFFIRMED
Officer approached by unknown citizen who stated that two intoxicated people had just got into a red pickup down street; as they were talking, red pickup drove by and officer followed; observed vehicle wait at stop sign for inordinate amount of time when there was no traffic; vehicle turned and parked; officer approached vehicle as plaintiff was walking away from vehicle; court held that although officer had never met informant and could not verify his reliability, "… the informant was situated to have made personal observations of the suspects and the informant made no effort to evade later questions by Officer Favreau. Also, the information was not totally uncorroborated", citing State v. Kenison and State v. Parker. (NOTE: cross-reference to illegal detention section)
Wolters v. Beecher, 96-E-143, (Strafford, Abramson, 11/14/96) AFFIRMED
Officer stopped plaintiff's vehicle as a result of a cellular telephone call; "the court agrees that the phone call concerning extremely erratic operation and dangerous driving amounts to an articulable suspicion that the driver is under the influence"; court stated that although Hearings Examiner made no specific finding as to credibility of informant, "… because the informant made the cellular phone call, stayed on the line with dispatch, made the effort to stop the petitioner, took her keys away, and stayed with her until the police arrived, the trooper and the Examiner could find the informant very credible". (NOTE: cross-reference to Section II of probable cause and Section IV of refusal)
Ryan v. Beecher, 96-E-52, (Merrimack, McGuire, 6/10/96) AFFIRMED
Officer stopped plaintiff's vehicle as a result of anonymous tip that plaintiff was "possibly impaired"; Hearings Examiner determined that tip was credible because it included specific description of vehicle, license plate number and approximate location; sufficient to stop, citing State v. Melanson. (NOTE: cross-reference to Section I of procedural issues involving ALS cases)
Lambert v. Beecher, 95-E-547, (Rockingham, Gray, 3/1/96) REVERSED
Officer informed by dispatch to "be on the lookout for a possible drunk driver"; provided with registration number, type of vehicle and direction of travel but no other details; officer observed vehicle and followed for .3 miles until it pulled into driveway; observed no erratic operation but approached vehicle; court held that, if the officer had acted immediately, "… the anonymous tip alone would probably have been enough to constitute reasonable suspicion"; court concluded that "… the ensuing absence of any such evidence created a situation in which he negated the reasonable suspicion that he would have had if he acted solely on the anonymous tip without giving himself time to observe the driver". (NOTE: cross-reference to Section IV of grounds for stop)
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Boutin v. Beecher, 95-E-290, (ND Hillsborough Groff, 11/8/95) REVERSED
Officer dispatched to "high drug" area for report of possible drug transaction taking place between several subjects, including two Dominicans (unknown who called in complaint); upon arrival, observed two white males in vehicle pulling away from the curb; officer stopped vehicle as it was only one in area to investigate whether subjects witnessed or were involved with alleged transaction; court held that "… the information available to the officer must be considered as coming from an informant" and that "no observed facts were reported"; court concluded "… quite simply, the officer had no articulable facts from which a reasonable suspicion could arise", citing State v. Kenison.
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Pinkham v. Turner, 94-E-414, (Rockingham, Coffey, 11/21/94) AFFIRMED
Officer approached by a citizen and told that a gray Ford Tempo was "all over the road"; gave license plate number to officer; officer received address; observed vehicle fitting description in driveway of address given; plaintiff asleep in the vehicle; court held that the citizen complaint was "strong factor" supporting a probable cause determination that plaintiff had operated a vehicle on the way while under the influence of intoxicating liquor; court stated "this report is a significant factor, even though it is not a direct observation of the arresting officer, because it is reasonably trustworthy. A citizen's report is presumed to be valid unless there exists some reason why it should be considered untrustworthy"; court further stated "where the citizen-witness's identification is simply not requested by an officer, rather then deliberately withheld by the citizen, there is no presumption that the information relayed by that citizen is unreliable", citing LeFave, Search and Seizure, volume 1.(NOTE: cross-reference to actual physical control section and Section IV of probable cause)
DiStefano v. Turner, 94-E-227, (Merrimack, Arnold, 10/14/94) AFFIRMED
Officer approached by unknown citizen that vehicle was operating erratically; gave officer description of vehicle and plate number; officer followed vehicle for one mile and observed it cross over the yellow line and white fog line on 2-3 occasions; officer stopped vehicle; plaintiff claimed that his vehicle was NOT the one pointed out by the unknown citizen; court held that "while the facts do not support the petitioner's contention, the officer nonetheless had reasonable grounds to stop the petitioner's vehicle following his observations of its erratic operation for approximately one mile whether the petitioner's vehicle was the one referenced by the individual to Officer Wood or not". (NOTE: cross-reference to Section II of grounds for stop, Section I of probable cause and section involving back of ALS form)
Schoneberger v. Turner, 94-E-303, (Rockingham, Gray, 8/4/94) AFFIRMED
Officer received complaint that a possible "drunk subject" was pumping gasoline at gas station; upon arrival, employee of gas station pointed out the vehicle, which was pulling out of the gas station; officer stopped vehicle; court held that the officer had reliable information which gave rise to an articulable suspicion that the operator may be impaired; "the officer did exactly what we as citizens expect of an officer: to investigate a possible drunk driver".
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Cardin v. Turner, 93-E-392, (Merrimack, Arnold, 9/7/93) AFFIRMED
Trooper received information from a DWI hot line that a blue Toyota Corolla with NH registration AIC 104 was suspected of being operated by a drunk driver; vehicle heading toward toll booth; trooper waited at tollbooth; observed vehicle matching description and waved it over; got no independent corroboration; court held that "the information provided by dispatch was sufficient to give Trooper Cornellier reasonable suspicion to stop the plaintiff's vehicle for further questioning". (NOTE: cross-reference to Section IV of probable cause)
Buchan v. Turner, 93-E-88, (Merrimack, Sullivan, 6/24/93) AFFIRMED
Officer received citizen complaint from unidentified female that subject was "revving" engine of vehicle outside the All Sports Pub Complex; officer observed vehicle which was only one in the area and approached operator, informing him that he was investigating a complaint; court held that no seizure or arrest took place when officer approached vehicle to question him why he was in the area at that time of night; "the officer was conducting an investigatory stop based upon a complaint that someone was revving his engine in area of the Sports Pub at 1:22 in the morning. The officer arrived in the area one to two minutes after the complaint was received, and he observed Mr. Buchan sitting in his truck with the engine running in the area mentioned in the complaint".
Barron v. Turner, 93-E-30, (Rockingham, Coffey, 3/16/93) REVERSED
IMPLIED CONSENT NOT ALS: Officer received citizen complaint of subject in parking lot of Veteran's Hall who was throwing up outside of vehicle; thought he may be intoxicated; officer went to parking lot; did not activate lights but pulled in and parked behind vehicle; officer testified that he blocked the vehicle but only because it was such a small parking lot; court held that plaintiff "…was seized from the moment the officer arrived on the scene and parked his cruiser in such a manner that Petitioner was not free to leave. Although the officer's concern for Petitioner's health is laudable, there was no probable cause to stop and reasonable suspicion that a crime had been committed". (NOTE: there is no detailed or well-written opinion in this case!)
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II. Miscellaneous
DeFosses v. Turner, 95-E-137, (Merrimack, McGuire, 8/8/95) AFFIRMED
ILLEGAL TRANSPORTATION OF ALCOHOL NOT ALS: Officer received anonymous complaint reference road racing; court held "the same showing regarding veracity and reliability is not necessary in cases where an ordinary citizen reports criminal activity occurring in his/her presence as when information is given by traditional police informants who usually are criminals themselves and who often give information in exchange for some concession".
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