State v. Griffin, 366 N.C. 473 (Apr. 12, 2013)

The defendant’s act of stopping his vehicle in the middle of the roadway and turning away from a license checkpoint gave rise to reasonable suspicion for a vehicle stop. The trial court denied the defendant’s motion to suppress, finding the stop constitutional. In an unpublished opinion, the court of appeals reversed on grounds that the checkpoint was unconstitutional. That court did not, however, comment on whether reasonable suspicion for the stop existed. The supreme court allowed the State’s petition for discretionary review to determine whether there was reasonable suspicion to initiate a stop of defendant’s vehicle and reversed. It reasoned:

Defendant approached a checkpoint marked with blue flashing lights. Once the patrol car lights became visible, defendant stopped in the middle of the road, even though he was not at an intersection, and appeared to attempt a three-point turn by beginning to turn left and continuing onto the shoulder. From the checkpoint [the officer] observed defendant’s actions and suspected defendant was attempting to evade the checkpoint. . . . It is clear that this Court and the Fourth Circuit have held that even a legal turn, when viewed in the totality of the circumstances, may give rise to reasonable suspicion. Given the place and manner of defendant’s turn in conjunction with his proximity to the checkpoint, we hold there was reasonable suspicion that defendant was violating the law; thus, the stop was constitutional. Therefore, because the [officer] had sufficient grounds to stop defendant‘s vehicle based on reasonable suspicion, it is unnecessary for this Court to address the constitutionality of the driver‘s license checkpoint.