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Commonwealth v. Enick

Superior Court of Pennsylvania

July 9, 2013

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, Appellee
v.
GRACE C. ENICK, Appellant

Appeal from the Judgment of Sentence June 1, 2012, Court of Common Pleas, Allegheny County, Criminal Division at No. CP-02-CR-0015835-2011

BEFORE: DONOHUE, OLSON and MUSMANNO, JJ.

OPINION

DONOHUE, J.

Appellant, Grace C. Enick ("Enick"), appeals from the June 1, 2012 judgment of sentence imposing ninety days of house arrest and 18 months of probation for driving under the influence of alcohol.[1] We affirm.

The trial court recited the following facts in its Pa.R.A.P. 1925(a) opinion:

On October 18, 2011, at approximately 2:38 a.m., Officer Daniel Rhyslop, a Corporal with the Mt. Lebanon Police Department, was on patrol traveling northbound on Washington Road (also known as Route 19), approaching the 1400 block of Washington Road, when he observed a green Toyota traveling southbound in the center lane. As he was approaching the vehicle, he observed half of the vehicle cross the double yellow lines into oncoming traffic for approximately 2 – 3 seconds. Officer Rhyslop testified that there was no obstruction in her lane of traffic, and there were no signals to indicate she (Enick) should be traveling over the centerline.
Officer Rhyslop further testified, because driving on the wrong side of the roadway is a motor vehicle [code] violation, he initiated a traffic stop. He indicated that he continued to drive north to check the area for any obstructions in the roadway, then he turned around and proceeded behind Enick and executed a traffic stop at approximately the 1600 block of Washington Road. When Officer Rhyslop came into contact with Enick, he testified that she had a strong odor of alcoholic beverage on her breath and person; her eyes were glassy; her speech was slurred; and her movements were slow. The Officer asked Enick to perform the standardized field sobriety tests of walk and turn, and the one leg stand. Officer Rhyslop testified during the walk and turn test, she failed to touch heel to toe on almost every step and she did not perform the turn as he demonstrated. She further failed to maintain the starting position, lost her balance from that position and failed to count her steps off as she walked.
Officer Rhyslop had her perform an additional field sobriety test of the one leg stand. During this test, she failed to keep her arms at her side; failed to raise her foot six inches off the ground; and failed to look at her elevated foot.
Officer Rhyslop opined that Enick was significantly impaired, she was a danger to other motorists on the roadway, and unable to safely operate a motor vehicle. Enick submitted to a blood alcohol test at the St. Clair Hospital at approximately 3:14 a.m. and the results were an alcohol content level of .178. In the Officer's report, he documented Enick admitted her vehicle was over the double yellow line.
On cross-examination, Officer Rhyslop testified a videotape was recorded of the events that occurred on October 18, 2011. However, after a thorough review of the videotape, this Court found that the video neither supported nor took away from the Officer's testimony, because it did not really address the moment when the vehicle crossed the centerline. The tape only established that the lights of Enick's vehicle were pointed in the direction of the Officer's vehicle, which somewhat supported the proposition that her vehicle was outside of the lane of travel. The Officer was able to point out in the video where Enick's vehicle lights were pointed in the direction of the Officer indicating Enick's vehicle was over the double yellow line.

Trial Court Opinion, 1/17/13, at 3-5 (record citations omitted).

Enick filed a pre-trial motion to suppress evidence, arguing that the vehicle stop was unlawful. At the conclusion of Enick's suppression hearing, the trial court found Officer Rhyslop's testimony credible and concluded the vehicle stop was lawful. Enick proceeded to a bench trial on stipulated facts, and the trial court found Enick guilty of driving under the influence of alcohol (75 Pa.C.S.A. § 3802(a)(1) and (c)), and failure to drive on the right side of the roadway (75 Pa.C.S.A. § 3301(a)).

Enick filed a timely appeal from the judgment of sentence. She raises two issues, both of which challenge the trial court's denial of her motion to suppress evidence:

1. Where the trial court agreed that the dashboard camera video did not depict the event the officer claimed to observe, was the denial of the ...

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