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Williams v. State

Court of Appeals of Georgia

November 14, 2014

WILLIAMS
v.
THE STATE

Page 83

Motion to suppress. Morgan Superior Court. Before Judge Wingfield.

Judgment affirmed.

Darel C. Mitchell, for appellant.

Fredric D. Bright, District Attorney, Alison T. Burleson, Assistant District Attorney, for appellee.

BOGGS, Judge. Barnes, P. J., and Branch, J., concur.

OPINION

Page 84

Boggs, Judge.

Ricky Williams appeals from his conviction of trafficking in cocaine and contends in his sole enumeration of error that the trial court erred by denying his motion to suppress. We disagree and affirm.

[T]hree fundamental principles ... must be followed when conducting an appellate review of a motion to suppress. First, when a motion to suppress is heard by the trial judge, that judge sits as the trier of facts. The trial judge hears the evidence, and his findings based upon conflicting evidence are analogous to the verdict of a jury and should not be disturbed by a reviewing court if there is any evidence to support [them]. Second, the trial court's decision with regard to questions of fact and credibility must be accepted unless clearly erroneous. Third, the reviewing court must construe the evidence most favorably to the upholding of the trial court's findings and judgment. On numerous occasions the appellate courts of this state have invoked these three principles to affirm trial court rulings that upheld the validity of seizures. These same principles of law apply equally to trial court rulings that are in favor of the defendant.

(Citations, punctuation and footnotes omitted.) Miller v. State, 288 Ga. 286, 286-287 (1) (702 S.E.2d 888) (2010). " Where ... the issue turns on the question of whether a trial court committed an error of law in granting a motion to suppress, we apply a de novo standard of review. [Cit.]" State v. Bethel, 307 Ga.App. 508, 509 (705 S.E.2d 860) (2010).

So viewed, the evidence shows that a state patrol officer stopped Williams, who was traveling eastbound on I-20 away from Atlanta, after observing Williams in a car with Michigan plates travel 10-12 miles below the speed limit and " go over the white fog line, which would be failure to maintain a lane." The officer stopped Williams because he was concerned that Williams might be intoxicated or fatigued from driving for a long period of time.

After asking for Williams' driver's license and registration, the officer initially asked about how much sleep he had and whether he was too fatigued to drive. Williams informed the officer that he lived in Augusta and produced a Georgia driver's license and a rental car agreement.

Based upon his experience, the officer did not believe that Williams was intoxicated, but was concerned about whether he was [329 Ga.App. 651] too tired to be driving. He therefore asked Williams to step out of the car so that he could assess his level of alertness. The officer testified that he made this assessment by asking Williams questions and " just listened to him answer my questions and how long it took him to process what I was saying." After deciding that Williams was not too ...


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