State v. Ford, 208 N.C. App. 699 (Dec. 21, 2010)

The trial court properly denied the defendant’s motion to suppress when officers had reasonable suspicion to believe that the defendant committed a traffic violation supporting the traffic stop. The stop was premised on the defendant’s alleged violation of G.S. 20-129(d), requiring that a motor vehicle’s rear plate be lit so that under normal atmospheric conditions it can be read from a distance of 50 feet. The trial court found that normal conditions existed when officers pulled behind the vehicle; officers were unable to read the license plate with patrol car’s lights on; when the patrol car’s lights were turned off, the plate was not visible within the statutory requirement; and officers cited the defendant for the violation. The defendant’s evidence that the vehicle, a rental car, was “fine” when rented did not controvert the officer’s testimony that the tag was not sufficiently illuminated on the night of the stop.