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State v. Tarvers
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Decision:1998 ME 64
on Briefs:February 13, 1998
Decided:	March 26, 1998




	[¶1]  Defendant Dale A. Tarvers appeals from the judgment entered in
the Superior Court (Cumberland County, Crowley, J.) on a jury verdict
finding him guilty of operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of
intoxicants.  (29-A M.R.S.A. § 2411 (1996)).  Defendant argues that the
District Court (Portland, Beaudoin, J.) erred in finding that the arresting
officer was justified in initiating an investigatory stop and thus erred in
denying his motion to suppress.  Finding no error, we affirm the judgment.
	[¶2]  The relevant facts may be summarized as follows:  At 11:30 p.m.
Officer Donald Fiske of the Gorham Police Department responded to a call to
stay with a car and two children at roadside.  The driver of the car, the
children's aunt, had been arrested by another officer.  Officer Fiske was
advised that the children's parents had been notified and would pick them
up and remove the vehicle.  Approximately ten minutes later a truck with
two adults arrived and parked behind the police cruiser.  The driver, a male,
did not respond to the officer's shouted instructions to park in front of the
cruiser.    The passenger in the truck, a woman, walked directly to the
vehicle with the children and sat in the driver's seat.  After directing the
driver to move the truck, the officer approached the car to determine if
everything was all set.  He observed a strong odor of intoxicants coming
from the woman.  He then approached the truck to see if the driver could
drive the two children and the woman home or, as he suspected from the
strong odor of intoxicants on the woman's breath, that the driver of the
truck might also be intoxicated.  When the officer approached the truck, he
observed defendant Dale Tarvers with glassy, bloodshot eyes and detected a
strong odor of alcohol. At this point, he requested defendant to produce his
license, registration and proof of insurance.  Defendant was arrested after
field sobriety tests were administered. 
	[¶3]   An investigatory stop is justified "if at the time of the stop the
officer has 'an articulable suspicion that criminal conduct has taken place, is
occurring, or imminently will occur, and the officer's assessment of the
existence of specific and articulable facts sufficient to warrant the stop is
objectively reasonable in the totality of the circumstances.'"   State v. Nelson,
638 A.2d 720, 722 (Me. 1994)(quoting State v. Dulac, 600 A.2d 1121, 1122
(Me. 1992)).  We review the court's finding that a stop was supported by an
objectively reasonable and articulable suspicion for clear error.  Id.  The
reasonable suspicion standard can be justified by safety reasons alone if they
are based on specific and articulable facts.  State v. Pinkham, 565 A.2d 318,
319 (Me. 1989).  Further, "[p]olice officers do not violate the Fourth
Amendment by merely approaching an individual on the street or in another
public place."  State v. Moulton, 1997 ME 228, ¶ 8, 704 A.2d 361, 363.
	[¶4]  In this case, the officer, in protecting defendant's children, was
engaged in a community caretaking function that did not end until he
determined that they had a safe ride home.  The court did not err in finding
that the officer was justified in approaching the vehicle and the truck in
order to insure the safety of the children.   Moreover, the court did not err
in finding that, when the officer approached the truck and observed
defendant's glassy, bloodshot eyes and the odor of alcohol, he had a
reasonable and articulable suspicion of criminal conduct.  The court did not
err in denying defendant's motion to suppress.
	The entry is:
					Judgment affirmed.
Attorneys for State: Stephanie Anderson, District Attorney Julia A. Sheridan, Asst. Dist. Atty. 142 Federal Street Portland, ME 04101 Attorney for defendant: Nicholas Kaldro, Esq. Kaldro & Martell P O Box 5280 Portland, ME 04101-5280