In State v Moore South Carolina Court of Appeals Issues a Significant Opinion in the Field of Traffic Stops and Search and Seizures


Officers Dale Owens, Donnie Gilbert, Ken Hancock and K-9 Deputy Jason Carraway, all of the Spartanburg County, Sheriff’s Office) were patrolling US Interstate-85 in Spartanburg County around 1:00 a.m. Owens observed the defendant (Ashley Eugene Moore), traveling an estimated 10 miles an hour over the posted speed limit. Owens also observed Moore execute an improper lane change. Owens activated his blue lights and stopped the defendant. Owens testified that it took the defendant longer than the average motorist to stop and that he failed to release his left turn signal. Officer Owens observed Moore talking on his cell phone as he approached the vehicle. Owens opined that the average motorist would have ended the phone call when an officer approached their vehicle and that drug traffickers often leave a cell phone on so that their superiors can hear the contents of the traffic stop. An alcoholic odor emanated from the defendant’s vehicle. Moore informed Owens that the vehicle was a rental and provided the rental agreement, along with his driver’s license. Officer Owens testified that the defendant was extremely nervous, with his hands shaking noticeably and his breathing clearly accelerated. The defendant consented to a “pat down search”. Officer Owens observed and seized “a large wad of money” from Moore’s person. Moore had indicated he was unemployed. Moore stated he was travelling from a suburb of Atlanta to Marion, North Carolina to visit his grandmother. It was determined that a third party had rented the vehicle for Moore. Moore declined consent for Officer Owens to search the vehicle.

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