State v. Sutton, ___ N.C. App. ___, 817 S.E.2d 211 (Jun. 5, 2018)

(1) In this drug trafficking case, the court held that the fact that the defendant’s truck crossed over a double yellow line justified the stop. The officer saw the defendant’s vehicle cross the center line of the road by about 1 inch. The court stated:

[T]here is a “bright line” rule in some traffic stop cases. Here, the bright line is a double yellow line down the center of the road. Where a vehicle actually crosses over the double yellow lines in the center of a road, even once, and even without endangering any other drivers, the driver has committed a traffic violation of N.C. Gen. Stat. § 20-146 (2017). This is a “readily observable” traffic violation and the officer may stop the driver without violating his constitutional rights.

(2) After a proper traffic stop, the officer had reasonable suspicion to extend the stop for six or seven minutes for a dog sniff. The officer was patrolling the road based on complaints about drug activity and had been advised by the SBI to be on the lookout for the defendant based upon reports that he was bringing large quantities of methamphetamine to a supplier who lived off of the road. After the officer stopped the defendant’s vehicle, he identified the defendant as the person noted in the lookout warning. The defendant was confused, spoke so quickly that he was hard to understand, and began to stutter and mumble. The defendant did not make eye contact with the officer and his nervousness was “much more extreme” than a typical stopped driver. His eyes were bloodshot and glassy and the skin under his eyes was ashy. Based on his training and experience, the officer believed the defendant’s behavior and appearance were consistent with methamphetamine use. The defendant told the officer he was going to “Rabbit’s” house. The officer knew that “Rabbit” was involved with methamphetamine and that he lived nearby. When the defendant exited his car, he put his hand on the car for stability. These facts alone would have given the officer reasonable suspicion. But additionally, a woman the officer knew had given drug information to law enforcement in the past approached and told the officer she had talked to Rabbit and the defendant had “dope in the vehicle.” These facts were more than sufficient to give the officer a reasonable suspicion that the defendant had drugs in his vehicle and justify extension of the stop for a dog sniff.