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Bolin v. Commonwealth

Court of Appeals of Kentucky

November 8, 2019

CHAD EVERETT BOLIN APPELLANT
v.
COMMONWEALTH OF KENTUCKY APPELLEE

          APPEAL FROM HENDERSON CIRCUIT COURT HONORABLE KAREN LYNN WILSON, JUDGE ACTION NO. 17-CR-00452

          BRIEF FOR APPELLANT: B. Scott West Assistant Public Advocate Frankfort, Kentucky

          BRIEF FOR APPELLEE: Andy Beshear Attorney General Lauren Massie Assistant Attorney General Frankfort, Kentucky

          BEFORE: COMBS, JONES, AND L. THOMPSON, JUDGES.

          OPINION

          JONES, JUDGE:

         Appellant, Chad Bolin, pleaded guilty to first-degree possession of a controlled substance, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, possession of drug paraphernalia, operating a motor vehicle on a suspended license, failure to maintain insurance, and driving under the influence. He appeals from the Henderson Circuit Court's judgment of conviction and sentence, which was entered following Bolin's conditional plea of guilty.[1] Bolin argues the trial court improperly denied his motion to suppress the evidence seized from the vehicle he was driving at the time he was stopped by law enforcement. Following review of the record and applicable law, we affirm the Henderson Circuit Court.

         I. BACKGROUND

         On August 29, 2017, Trooper Joseph Hensley of the Kentucky State Police pulled over a vehicle for expired registration. Bolin was driving the vehicle; the owner was in the passenger seat. During the stop, Trooper Hensley observed Bolin sweating profusely, shaking, and talking very quickly. He was also drinking from two bottles, one Mountain Dew, and one tea, in quick succession. Bolin said he was "extremely hot and thirsty." Trooper Hensley ran the Social Security number Bolin provided him through dispatch and discovered Bolin had a suspended driver's license and unrelated warrants for his arrest.

         Based on his observations of Bolin, Trooper Hensley also believed Bolin might have been driving the vehicle under the influence of drugs. He asked Bolin to step out of the vehicle to perform field sobriety tests. Bolin successfully completed the first test; however, Trooper Hensley noticed Bolin's pupils were dilated, and his eyelids were "droopy." Trooper Hensley decided more tests were in order. Bolin showed no signs of intoxication on a second test but failed the final three tests. At this point, Trooper Hensley placed Bolin under arrest for driving under the influence and on the outstanding warrants. Trooper Hensley then asked Bolin whether he had recently used any drugs. Bolin responded by admitting that he had used methamphetamine prior to operating the vehicle. Trooper Hensley then asked Bolin if there was methamphetamine in the vehicle, to which Bolin replied there may be.

         Following this exchange, Trooper Hensley contacted dispatch to send out the Henderson Police Department K-9 Unit. When the K-9 Unit arrived, the canine hit on the front driver's seat. The vehicle was then searched. Officers discovered methamphetamine, drug paraphernalia, and a loaded firearm in the vehicle.

         Bolin was indicted on charges of first-degree possession of a controlled substance, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, possession of drug paraphernalia, operating a motor vehicle on a suspended license, failure to maintain insurance, and operating a motor vehicle under the influence. On January 31, 2018, Bolin moved to suppress the evidence obtained during the traffic stop. The trial court conducted a suppression hearing on February 13, 2018. Trooper Hensley was the only witness.[2] He testified it was his custom to give Miranda[3]warnings, but he could not remember whether he had done so in this case.[4] He further testified he had specialized "ARIDE"[5] training allowing him to observe, identify, and articulate the signs of impairment related to drugs and/or alcohol. Based on Bolin's demeanor and his physical characteristics during their initial interactions related to the traffic stop, Trooper Hensley believed Bolin had been operating the vehicle while under the influence of drugs.

         The trial court sustained Bolin's motion to suppress in part and denied it in part. It determined that Bolin's statements to Trooper Hensley had to be suppressed because he made the statements in response to questioning while in custody, but without having first been given the mandatory Miranda warnings. The trial court, however, did not suppress the evidence from the search of the vehicle Bolin was driving. The trial court determined that even without the statements, there was probable cause for Trooper Hensley to believe the vehicle contained evidence related to the offense of arrest, DUI, inside the vehicle. Alternatively, the trial court determined Bolin lacked "standing" to object to the search because the vehicle's owner was a passenger and did not object to its search.

         Thereafter, Bolin entered a guilty plea conditioned on his right to appeal the trial court's denial of his motion to suppress introduction of the evidence seized from the vehicle. This appeal followed.

         II.STANDARD OF ...


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