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State v. Amaya

Florida Court of Appeals, Third District

December 18, 2019

The State of Florida, Appellant,
v.
Ariel Amaya, Appellee.

         Not final until disposition of timely filed motion for rehearing.

          An Appeal from a non-final order from the Circuit Court for Miami-Dade County Lower Tribunal No. 17-20880, Mark Blumstein, Judge.

          Ashley Moody, Attorney General, and David Llanes, Assistant Attorney General, for appellant.

          Ima Ocasio-Yrady, for appellee.

          Before LINDSEY, HENDON and GORDO, JJ.

          GORDO, J.

         The State of Florida appeals the trial court's order granting Ariel Amaya's motion to suppress evidence obtained pursuant to a traffic stop. Based on the trial court's own pronouncement of the uncontroverted evidence, we reverse and remand for findings consistent with an appropriate application of Florida law.

         FACTS & PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         Mr. Amaya was stopped by City of Doral Detective Adam Andreozzi for making an improper left turn in the intersection of Northwest 58th Street and Northwest 79th Avenue in violation of section 316.151(1)(b), Florida Statutes (2019). After further investigation, Mr. Amaya was charged with unlawful conveyance of fuel, a third-degree felony. He moved to suppress evidence challenging the validity of the stop.

         The trial court held an evidentiary hearing, during which the detective testified that Mr. Amaya exited the Mobil gas station from the north side of the parking lot and made a right turn on Northwest 58th Street. Northwest 58th Street is a four-lane road consisting of a left turn lane, two through lanes, and a right turn lane. Mr. Amaya was travelling in an eastbound, through lane, from which he was not allowed to turn left. The detective then observed Mr. Amaya make an abrupt left turn to travel north on Northwest 79th Avenue from that through lane.

         During the trial court's questioning of the detective, he simply recalled the turn was in violation of Chapter 316 and admitted he did not know the specific statute number as he did not issue a citation for the infraction.[1] The transcript reveals this inquiry led to an extensive dialogue between the prosecutor and the court regarding the application of section 316.122, Florida Statutes (2019), which the State cited in its response to the motion to suppress. While the State argued that the facts amounted to a violation of section 316.122, the court disagreed. Nonetheless, the State maintained that turning left from a non-turning lane was a traffic infraction.

         On the record, the court acknowledged the unrefuted testimony that Mr. Amaya was travelling in a lane that was dedicated to eastbound travel, stating: "He is in a lane that doesn't make a left or right. I've got it." The court found "[t]hat it is uncontroverted what lane [Mr. Amaya] is in."

         The court orally found that the facts presented during the evidentiary hearing did not constitute a traffic infraction in violation of section 316.122, given there was no evidence traffic was impacted by the turn. However, the State subsequently filed a motion for reconsideration arguing that Mr. Amaya's conduct violated section 316.151(1)(b).[2] The court did not grant a hearing on the motion, but instead issued a written order denying the motion for reconsideration and granting the motion to suppress. In it, the court ...


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