On appeal from Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Cape May County, Municipal Appeal No. 22-09-08.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Before Judges R. B. Coleman and Graves.
Defendant Richard Messimer was charged in the North Wildwood Municipal Court with careless driving, in violation of N.J.S.A. 39:4-97, driving while intoxicated, in violation of N.J.S.A. 39:4-50, and refusing to submit to a breathalyzer test, in violation of N.J.S.A. 39:4-50.2. After the municipal court denied defendant's motion to suppress the evidence against him, defendant entered a conditional guilty plea to driving while intoxicated, reserving the right to appeal the denial of his motion to suppress. R. 3:9-3(f). In return for defendant's guilty plea, the State agreed to dismiss the other charges.
Defendant appealed the denial of his motion to suppress to the Law Division, which reversed. The State appeals from the order entered on March 11, 2009, granting defendant's motion to suppress "all evidence flowing from the motor vehicle stop of June 23, 2008 in the municipality of North Wildwood Township." On appeal, the State argues the Law Division erred in granting defendant's motion to suppress because the police officer who stopped defendant's vehicle had a reasonable basis for doing so. We agree and reverse.
The only witness to testify at the suppression hearing was Officer Katherine Flounders, a member of the North Wildwood Police Department. Flounders testified that on June 23, 2008, at approximately 11:00 p.m., her patrol vehicle was parked in a municipal parking lot "located at 1st and Olde New Jersey Avenue near the bar district," when she "heard screeching tires in the area," and she observed a black pickup truck, which was being driven by defendant, approach the intersection at 1st Avenue and Olde New Jersey Avenue and come to a stop.
Officer Flounders was then asked: "What happened when the black pickup truck pulled away from the stop sign?" and she testified:
A: Tires screeched and the . . . rear of the truck fishtailed.
Q: . . . What do you mean by screech? Could you -
Q: And about how long duration did that last?
A: Approximately two seconds.
Q: And where were you looking when you ...