Court of Appeals of Texas, Twelfth District, Tyler
FROM THE COUNTY COURT AT LAW SMITH COUNTY, TEXAS (Tr.Ct.No.
consisted of Worthen, C.J., Hoyle, J., and Neeley, J.
T. Worthen Chief Justice.
Hudson Dansby appeals his conviction for driving while
intoxicated. In ten issues, Appellant challenges the denial
of his motion to suppress, the admission of certain evidence,
whether the corpus delicti rule was satisfied, and the legal
sufficiency of the evidence. We affirm.
County Sheriff's Deputy Gerald Atchison, while on patrol,
stopped at a convenience store. He noticed an unoccupied
vehicle running in the parking lot. Atchison asked several
people inside the store and the adjoining Whataburger
restaurant whether the vehicle belonged to them. Appellant,
who was inside Whataburger, admitted owning the vehicle.
Atchison noticed that Appellant's eyes were red and
watery, and he smelled of alcohol. He asked Appellant where
he had been that night. Appellant said that he had been at
the Half Moon Grill and Saloon, about a half block away. He
said he had a few beers, went home, changed clothes, and
returned to Whataburger for food.
Atchison, believing that Appellant might be guilty of public
intoxication, asked Deputy Fire Marshal Londoff to administer a
horizontal gaze nystagmus (HGN) test. After this test was
conducted, Atchison arrested Appellant for public
intoxication. At that time, Texas Department of Public Safety
Trooper Glen Davenport arrived at the scene. After Atchison
related the facts to him, Davenport decided that the facts
warranted an investigation for DWI. Because Davenport's
shift was ending, Trooper Robert Hartman arrived and assumed
the investigation. Hartman conducted standard field sobriety
tests and arrested Appellant for DWI. A subsequent breath
test conducted at the jail showed that Appellant's
alcohol content was over the legal limit.
was charged by information with DWI and pleaded "not
guilty." After a bench trial, the trial court found
Appellant guilty and assessed his punishment at confinement
for 180 days, suspended for a term of twenty months, and a
$300 fine. This appeal followed.
Appellant's first through fifth issues, he argues that
the trial court erred in denying his motion to suppress
because (1) the police had no probable cause to arrest him
for driving while intoxicated or public intoxication, (2) he
was arrested without a warrant or valid warrant exception,
and (3) his consent to the breath test was involuntary.
review a trial court's ruling on a motion to suppress
under a bifurcated standard of review. Hubert v.
State, 312 S.W.3d 554, 559 (Tex. Crim. App. 2010);
Carmouche v. State, 10 S.W.3d 323, 327 (Tex. Crim.
App. 2000). A trial court's decision to grant or deny a
motion to suppress is generally reviewed under an abuse of
discretion standard. Shepherd v. State, 273 S.W.3d
681, 684 (Tex. Crim. App. 2008). We give almost total
deference to a trial court's determination of historical
facts, especially if those determinations turn on witness
credibility or demeanor, and review de novo the trial
court's application of the law to facts not based on an
evaluation of credibility and demeanor. Neal v.
State, 256 S.W.3d 264, 281 (Tex. Crim. App. 2008). When
deciding a motion to suppress evidence, a trial court is the
exclusive trier of fact and judge of the witnesses'
credibility. Maxwell v. State, 73 S.W.3d 278, 281
(Tex. Crim. App. 2002). Accordingly, a trial court may choose
to believe or disbelieve all or any part of a witness's
testimony. See State v. Ross, 32 S.W.3d 853, 855
(Tex. Crim. App. 2000).
trial court does not make express findings of fact, we view
the evidence in the light most favorable to the trial
court's ruling and assume the trial court made implicit
findings of fact that support its ruling as long as those
findings are supported by the record. Lujan v.
State, 331 S.W.3d 768, 771 (Tex. Crim. App. 2011).
Therefore, the prevailing party is entitled to "the
strongest legitimate view of the evidence and all reasonable
inferences that may be drawn from that evidence."
State v. Castleberry, 332 S.W.3d 460, 465 (Tex.
Crim. App. 2011). When all evidence is viewed in the light
most favorable to the trial court's ruling, an appellate
court is obligated to uphold the ruling on a motion to
suppress if that ruling was supported by the record and was
correct under any theory of law applicable to the case.
See Ross, 32 S.W.3d at 856; Carmouche, 10
S.W.3d at 327; State v. Ballard, 987 S.W.2d 889, 891
(Tex. Crim. App. 1999). Because the trial court in this case
did not make express findings, we view the evidence in the
light most favorable to the trial court's ruling and
assume it made implicit findings that support its ruling as
long as the record supports those findings. See
Lujan, 331 S.W.3d at 771.
initial burden of proof on a motion to suppress evidence on
the basis of a Fourth Amendment violation rests with the
defendant. Torres v. State, 182 S.W.3d 899, 902
(Tex. Crim. App. 2005). The defendant meets this burden by
demonstrating that the seizure occurred without a warrant.
See id. Thereafter, the burden shifts to the state
to prove the reasonableness of the warrantless seizure.
See id. The state may satisfy this burden by showing
that one of the statutory exceptions to the warrant
requirement is met. Id. A police officer may arrest
an individual without a warrant only if (1) there is probable
cause with respect to that individual, and (2) the arrest
falls within one of the exceptions specified in articles
14.01 through 14.04 of the code of criminal procedure.
Stull v. State, 772 S.W.3d 449, 451 (Tex. Crim. App.
cause for a warrantless arrest exists if, at the moment the
arrest is made, the facts and circumstances within the
arresting officer's knowledge, and of which he has
reasonably trustworthy information, are sufficient to warrant
a prudent man in believing that the person arrested had
committed or was committing an offense. Amador v.
State, 275 S.W.3d 872, 878 (Tex. Crim. App. 2009). The
test for probable cause is an objective one, unrelated to the
arresting officer's subjective beliefs, and requires a
consideration of the totality of the circumstances facing the
arresting officer. Id. A finding of probable cause
requires more than bare suspicion, but less than would
justify conviction. Id. An unarticulated hunch, a
suspicion, or the good faith of the arresting officer is
insufficient to support probable cause to justify a
warrantless arrest. Torres, 182 S.W.3d at 902.
case, after the suppression hearing, the trial court issued
an order granting in part and denying in part Appellant's
motion to suppress. In the order, the trial court did not
explicitly name which parts of the motion it was granting and
denying. Instead, the trial court named the evidence being
suppressed. Based on our review of the grounds in
Appellant's motion, the evidence suppressed by the trial
court's order, and trial court's statements on the
record, we conclude that the trial court implicitly denied
the motion on the grounds that are the subject of
Appellant's first through fifth issues.
first issue, Appellant argues that the evidence does not show
that Trooper Hartman had probable cause to arrest him for DWI
because (1) the officers nor any other witness saw Appellant
driving, (2) Hartman had no information regarding how long
Appellant's truck had been at the scene, and (3) Hartman
had no information regarding whether Appellant consumed
alcohol after arriving at the scene. However, there is
evidence in the record to support a finding of probable cause
to arrest for DWI.
person commits DWI if he operates a motor vehicle in a public
place while intoxicated. See Tex. Penal Code Ann.
§ 49.04(a) (West Supp. 2016). "Intoxicated" is
defined as "(A) not having the normal use of mental or
physical faculties by reason of the introduction of alcohol,
a controlled substance, a drug, a dangerous drug, a
combination of two or more of those substances, or any other
substance into the body; or (B) having an alcohol
concentration of 0.08 or more." Id. §
49.01(2) (West 2011).
Hartman testified that prior to the DWI arrest, Appellant
told him he had consumed a few beers and two shots of alcohol
at the Half Moon. Hartman was also told that Appellant's
vehicle was found running in the parking lot. The vehicle was
registered to Appellant, and Appellant said he had been
driving. No one approached Hartman to claim any connection
with Appellant or the vehicle. Appellant said that after he
left the Half Moon, he went to his house and returned to
Whataburger. Hartman administered three standard field
sobriety tests on Appellant and formed an opinion that he was
intoxicated. Appellant showed signs of intoxication on all
on the evidence of Appellant's intoxication, along with
Appellant's statements that he consumed alcohol at the
Half Moon and then drove home and back to Whataburger, the
trial court could reasonably infer that Appellant was
intoxicated when he drove the vehicle. Therefore, based on
the evidence adduced and the reasonable inferences that can
be made from it, the trial court could reasonably conclude
the facts and circumstances within Trooper Hartman's
knowledge were sufficient to warrant a belief that Appellant
committed DWI. See Amador, 275 S.W.3d at 878.
Accordingly, the record reasonably supports the trial
court's implicit conclusion that the State carried its
burden of proving that Hartman's warrantless arrest of
Appellant was properly supported by probable cause to arrest
for DWI. See Tex. Penal Code Ann. § 49.04(a);
Torres, 182 S.W.3d at 902; Stull, 772
S.W.3d at 451.
second issue, Appellant argues that his warrantless DWI
arrest was unlawful because the offense was not committed in
a peace officer's presence or view. See Tex.
Code Crim. Proc. Ann. art. 14.01 (West 2005). However, the
commission of an offense in an officer's presence or view
is not the only exception to the warrant requirement. See
Stull, 772 S.W.3d at 451. Under article 14.03, a peace
officer may arrest, without a warrant, a person found in a
suspicious place and under circumstances which reasonably
show that he has been guilty of a breach of the peace. Tex.
Code Crim. Proc. Ann. art. 14.03(a) (West 2005).
while intoxicated is a breach of the peace. Gallups v.
State, 151 S.W.3d 196, 201 (Tex. Crim. App. 2004). Few,
if any, places are suspicious in and of themselves. Dyar
v. State, 125 S.W.3d 460, 464-65 (Tex. Crim. App. 2003).
Rather, additional facts available to an officer plus
reasonable inferences from those facts in relation to a
particular place may arouse justifiable suspicion.
Id. at 465. Any place may become suspicious when a
person at that location and the accompanying circumstances
raise a reasonable belief that the person has committed a
crime and exigent circumstances call for immediate action or
detention by police. Swain v. State, 181 S.W.3d 359,
366 (Tex. Crim. App. 2005).
case, Appellant was found inside Whataburger. He showed signs
of intoxication, and his vehicle was running in the parking
lot. We have held that Trooper Hartman had probable cause to
support a DWI arrest. Furthermore, exigent circumstances-the
need to ascertain Appellant's alcohol
concentration-existed to justify Appellant's immediate
arrest. See Gallups, 151 S.W.3d at 202. We conclude
that, under these circumstances, Whataburger meets the
suspicious place requirement of article 14.03(a)(1). See
Swain, 181 S.W.3d at 366.
giving almost total deference to the trial court's
determination of the historical facts, and reviewing de novo
the trial court's application of the law to facts not
based on an evaluation of credibility and demeanor, we
conclude that, given the totality of the circumstances, the
State carried its burden to justify Appellant's
warrantless arrest by Trooper Hartman. See Tex. Code
Crim. Proc. Ann. art. 14.03(a); Neal, 256 S.W.3d at
281; Torres, 182 S.W.3d at 902. Accordingly, the
trial court did not abuse its discretion by denying
Appellant's motion to suppress based on a lack of
probable cause or warrant exception for Hartman's arrest
of Appellant for DWI. We overrule Appellant's first and
third issue, Appellant argues that the trial court erred in
denying his motion to suppress because Atchison had no
probable cause to arrest him for public intoxication. He
contends that the evidence adduced at the suppression hearing
does not show that the facts known to Atchison at the time of
the arrest warranted a reasonable belief that ...