from the District Court of Laramie County. The Honorable
Thomas T.C. Campbell, Judge.
Appellant: Office of the State Public Defender: Diane Lozano,
State Public Defender; Tina N. Olson, Chief Appellate
Counsel; Eric M. Alden, Senior Assistant Public Defender.
Appellee: Peter K. Michael, Wyoming Attorney General; David
L. Delicath, Deputy Attorney General; Christyne M. Martens,
Senior Assistant Attorney General; Darrell D. Jackson,
Faculty Director; Bradford H. Coates, Student Director; and
Chika Kodaka, Student Intern, of the Prosecution Assistance
BURKE, C.J., and HILL, DAVIS, FOX, and KAUTZ, JJ.
[¶1] Appellant Marvin Clay challenges the
denial of his motion to suppress evidence supporting a
conviction for driving under the influence of alcohol. We
[¶2] Did the district court err in denying
Appellant's motion to suppress?
[¶3] In the late evening of December 19,
2014, a Cheyenne police officer stopped Appellant's car
after it exited the parking lot of the Eagle's Nest Bar
in Cheyenne, Wyoming. From that point on, the facts are
disputed in certain respects, and we will first recount the
State's version of the events. 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.
[¶4] 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.
[¶5] Within the first minute of Appellant
slowly flipping through his wallet, the officer observed
signs of possible intoxication. A slight odor of alcohol
emanated from the vehicle. There was also an empty vodka
bottle on the rear seat. Appellant would not look up at the
officer, who also observed that his motor skills appeared to
be " real, real slow." The officer was able to
obtain Appellant's name and date of birth. After he
returned to his vehicle to run a check (presumably for
warrants) on the identification he had, he contacted another
officer who was working on the DUI Task Force that evening.
[¶6] The DUI Task Force officer quickly
arrived, and he observed that Appellant smelled heavily of
alcohol, and his speech was slurred and his eyes were glazed.
Consequently, he was asked to perform three standard field
sobriety tests. He performed poorly on all three, and
the DUI Task Force officer arrested him for driving under the
influence of alcohol. An ensuing blood test revealed that
Appellant's blood alcohol content was .18%, more than
twice the legal limit.
[¶7] Appellant was ultimately charged,
inter alia, with Driving Under the Influence, Fourth
Offense, in violation of Wyo. Stat. Ann. § 31-5-233
(LexisNexis 2013). He eventually filed a motion to
suppress the evidence against him. He claimed that his
detention was improperly expanded beyond the scope of the
initial traffic stop because it was improper for the officer
to contact him after he looked at ...