State v. Daniel, 372 N.C. 202 (May. 10, 2019)

The court per curiam affirmed a decision of a divided panel of the Court of Appeals, ___ N.C. App. ___, 814 S.E.2d 618 (2018), holding that because an officer had probable cause to arrest the defendant for impaired driving, the trial court erred by granting the defendant’s motion to suppress. Here, the trooper “clocked” the defendant traveling at 80 miles per hour in a 65 mile per hour zone on a highway. As the trooper approached the defendant’s vehicle, the defendant abruptly moved from the left lane of the highway into the right lane, nearly striking another vehicle before stopping on the shoulder. During the stop, the trooper noticed a moderate odor of alcohol emanating from the defendant and observed an open 24-ounce container of beer in the cup-holder next to the driver’s seat. The defendant told the trooper that he had just purchased the beer, and was drinking it while driving down the highway. The defendant admitted that he had been drinking heavily several hours before the encounter with the trooper. The trooper did not have the defendant perform any field sobriety tests but did ask the defendant to submit to two Alco-sensor tests, both of which yielded positive results for alcohol. The Court of Appeals noted that while swerving alone does not give rise to probable cause, additional factors creating dangerous circumstances may, as was the case here.