Court strikes down appeal from Seneca County Commissioner Tyler Shuff in OVI case
Tiffin, Ohio — The Ohio Third District Court of Appeals has struck down an appeal by Seneca County Commissioner Tyler Shuff regarding his arrest for operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs (“OVI”) back in December 2021.
Shuff was charged with two counts of OVI, both first-degree misdemeanors, as well as a turn-signal violation, a minor misdemeanor, after being pulled over by an Ohio State Highway Patrol trooper in Tiffin on Dec. 27, 2021.
On Feb. 24, Shuff’s attorney, Dean Henry, filed a motion to suppress evidence and a request for an order in limine. An order in limine is a motion which asks the court for an order or ruling limiting or preventing certain evidence from being presented by the other side.
Shuff argued that the Ohio State Highway Patrol trooper who pulled him over had “no reasonable, articulable suspicion to initiate a traffic stop of [his] vehicle for a turn-signal violation,” and “no probable cause to arrest [him] for OVI.” The motion was denied by the Tiffin-Fostoria Municipal Court on March 28.
Shuff pleaded no contest to all three charges on April 18. He was found guilty of the three charges and sentenced to 90 days in jail with 84 days suspended, however, his sentence was stayed pending appeal.
Shuff filed a timely notice of appeal, arguing that the Tiffin-Fostoria Municipal Court made an error by denying his motion to suppress evidence and for an order in limine.
In an opinion published Monday, the Ohio Third District Court of Appeals affirmed the municipal court’s decision to deny Shuff’s motion.
“There is no dispute that Shuff was making a turn from a left-turn only lane at the intersection of Water Street and Washington Street in Tiffin. Further, it is undisputed that Shuff failed to activate his turn signal at any point while approaching that intersection, when moving into the left-turn only lane, after stopping at the intersection’s flashing red lights, and during the execution of his left-hand turn,” the court of appeals wrote in its unanimous opinion.
“Consequently, it is undisputed that Shuff did not continuously signal his intent to turn for at least 100 feet before turning,” the court continued. “Based upon these facts, the State contends that Tpr. Weaver had reasonable, articulable suspicion to believe Shuff violated R.C. 4511.39(A). Nevertheless, Shuff argues that since this was a turn-only lane, he was alleviated of his statutory requirement to activate his turn signal.
“Based upon the totality of the circumstances, we conclude that Shuff violated R.C. 4511.39(A), which provided Tpr. Weaver with reasonable, articulable suspicion to constitutionally initiate the traffic stop of Shuff’s motor vehicle for a turn-signal violation.”
The court also ruled that the trooper had probable cause to arrest Shuff for OVI.
“The record reveals that probable cause to arrest Shuff for OVI was supported by Weaver’s observations of Shuff’s red, bloodshot, and glassy eyes; Shuff’s flushed face; the strong odor of alcoholic beverages coming from Shuff’s person; his slurred speech; his fumbling for his license; his failure to follow instructions; six out of six clues for the horizontal gaze nystagmus test; a vertical nystagmus indicating a high level of alcohol content; and a turn-signal violation.
“Based upon the totality of the circumstances, we conclude that Tpr. Weaver had probable cause to arrest Shuff for the offense of OVI,” the court wrote in its opinion. “Upon our review of the entire record, we conclude that the trial court did not err by denying Shuff’s motion to suppress and his request for an order in limine. Accordingly, for all these reasons, Shuff’s assignment of error is overruled.”