Arapahoe County District Court No. 15CR581, Honorable
Ruthanne Polidori, Judge
H. Coffman, Attorney General, John T. Lee, Senior Assistant
Attorney General, Denver, Colorado, for Plaintiff-Appellee
A. Ring, Colorado State Public Defender, Kamela Maktabi,
Deputy State Public Defender, Denver, Colorado, for
1] Defendant, Santos Sanchez Johnston, appeals his
judgment of conviction for aggravated driving after
revocation prohibited. In so doing, he raises an issue of
first impression in Colorado: whether weaving within a single
lane of traffic can create reasonable suspicion of criminal
activity to justify an investigatory stop.
2] We recognize that slight degrees of incidental
weaving within a traffic lane do not alone give rise to the
reasonable suspicion necessary to justify a stop of a
vehicle. But we conclude that, under the totality of the
circumstances, the police officers observation of
defendants vehicle weaving continuously within its own lane
for over five miles was sufficient to create a reasonable
suspicion justifying the traffic stop. Accordingly, we
3] An Arapahoe County sheriffs deputy noticed
defendants car weaving back and forth within the right-hand
lane while traveling eastbound on Interstate 70. The deputy
followed defendant for five to six miles before stopping him.
During that time, defendant continuously weaved within his
lane. The deputy stopped defendant on suspicion that he was
driving under the influence of alcohol.
4] During the stop, the deputy noticed defendant had
slightly slurred speech and bloodshot eyes. The deputy also
smelled a strong odor of alcohol. A second officer on the
scene noticed alcoholic beverage containers in the front
passenger seat and informed the deputy.
5] When asked for his license and insurance,
defendant produced his registration information but stated
his license was suspended and he did not have insurance. A
check of his name and date of birth revealed an Oklahoma
license and a showing of being a habitual traffic offender in
6] The deputy administered a horizontal gaze
nystagmus test on defendant. Defendant exhibited clues of
intoxication, and the deputy placed him under arrest.
Defendant informed the deputy that he had been a habitual
traffic offender for fourteen years and that his license was
7] The prosecution charged defendant with aggravated
driving after revocation prohibited, driving under the
influence, and lack of compulsory insurance. The prosecution
dismissed the compulsory insurance charge at trial.
8] Defendant filed a pretrial motion to suppress
evidence and statements as the product of an illegal stop
under the Fourth Amendment. The trial court held a hearing to
consider the motion. At the hearing, the prosecution called
the deputy who had stopped defendant.
9] The deputy testified that, over the course of
five to six miles,
[defendant] was going back and forth in his lane, so he was
getting to the left side where the dotted line was, and then
hed go back over to the right side where the solid line was.
He would just keep going back and forth in his lane; wouldnt
quite cross over ...