Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Ellis v. State

Court of Appeals of Texas, Second District, Fort Worth

November 22, 2017

RICKY LYNN ELLIS APPELLANT
v.
THE STATE OF TEXAS STATE

         FROM THE 372ND DISTRICT COURT OF TARRANT COUNTY TRIAL COURT NO. 1427440D

          PANEL: SUDDERTH, C.J.; GABRIEL and PITTMAN, JJ.

          OPINION

          MARK T. PITTMAN JUSTICE

         The trial court found Appellant Ricky Lynn Ellis guilty of driving while intoxicated-felony repetition (DWI) and sentenced him to serve ten years in prison and to pay a $1, 000 fine, but the trial court suspended imposition of the confinement portion of the sentence and placed Appellant on community supervision for eight years. In his sole point, Appellant contends that "[t]he trial court erred by denying [his] motion to suppress because the [police] officer lacked reasonable suspicion to initiate a traffic stop based solely on the ambiguous notation that insurance was 'unconfirmed' and because the evidence was not developed to establish the reliability of the license check computer system." Given the specific facts of this case, we uphold the trial court's conclusion that reasonable suspicion justified the stop, and we affirm the trial court's judgment.

         I. Statement of Facts

         Appellant was driving his Jeep northbound on Rio Grande Boulevard in Euless, Texas when Officer David Chaney, a police officer for the City of Euless, stopped Appellant solely because the patrol car's computer indicated that liability insurance on the Jeep was "unconfirmed." Ultimately, Officer Chaney determined that Appellant had committed DWI and arrested him. Appellant filed a motion to suppress all evidence gained from the stop, and after a hearing, the trial court denied the motion. The trial court found Appellant guilty after a bench trial, and he appealed.

         A. Evidence Regarding the Stop

Officer Chaney testified as follows about the stop of Appellant:
. At approximately 3:30 p.m. on September 1, 2015, Officer Chaney parked his patrol car in the center median of the 2200 block of Rio Grande Boulevard in Euless;
. Officer Chaney's patrol car had a database maintained by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS);
. A 2004 Jeep Grand Cherokee SUV traveled northbound past Officer Chaney;
. Officer Chaney typed the Jeep's license plate into the computer, "[j]ust checking [the database] for warrants, registration, the validity of the registration, and confirmation that the vehicle had insurance or not";
. After Officer Chaney input the Jeep's license plate number, the "insurance return" from the database showed that the Jeep's insurance status was "unconfirmed per the State of Texas, " which meant that the Jeep was "not showing to have current insurance as required by Texas state law";
. The return from the database would have said "insurance confirmed" if the Jeep had been insured;
. Officer Chaney's training and experience led him to conclude that the Jeep was uninsured;
. Officer Chaney stopped the Jeep based solely on the "unconfirmed" insurance return from the database;
. Appellant did not provide Officer Chaney with insurance information at the time of the stop;
. Officer Chaney conceded that Appellant's insurance card admitted at trial indicated that he had insurance coverage on the Jeep on the date of his arrest; and
. It is possible for a driver to have an insurance card but not actually have insurance.

         B. Evidence Regarding the Database Providing the Insurance Information

         Officer Chaney testified as follows regarding the database:

. It was maintained by the FBI and DPS and part of NCIC and TCIC;[1]
. He had training for the database, which the trial court could have inferred Officer Chaney indicated was Texas Law Enforcement Electronic Telecommunications System (TLETS), early in his career and completed refresher training, a refresher test, and continuing education on the system every two years;
. Officer Chaney did not know how the database worked;
. Officer Chaney did not know if the database was web-, internet- or cloud-based;
. Officer Chaney did not know the database's requirements for accuracy;
. As far as Officer Chaney knew, the database "could be 99 percent accurate" or "50 percent accurate";
. Officer Chaney did not know how often insurance companies reported information or how often they were required to report ...

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.