Arapahoe County District Court No. 15CR581 Honorable Ruthanne
Cynthia H. Coffman, Attorney General, John T. Lee, Senior
Assistant Attorney General, Denver, Colorado, for
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 officer's observation of
defendant's vehicle weaving continuously within its own
lane for over five miles was sufficient to create a
reasonable suspicion justifying the traffic stop.
Accordingly, we affirm.
3 An Arapahoe County sheriff's deputy noticed
defendant's 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 suspended.
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
[defendant] was going back and forth in his lane, so he was
getting to the left side where the dotted line was, and then
he'd go back over to the right side where the solid line
was. He would just keep going back and forth in his lane;
wouldn't quite cross ...