Judge tosses evidence against Felton man in DUI case

DOVER — Evidence from an alleged felony drunken driving offense last summer must be tossed out because there was no reasonable suspicion by police to make a vehicle stop, a judge ruled Tuesday.

Johnny R. Jones, 49, of Felton, was stopped on July 7, 2016, based on an officer’s suspicion that he might not be wearing a seatbelt, according to a four-page order issued in Kent County Superior Court, Further investigation led to a fifth-offense DUI charge.

“The officer indicated that, given his prolonged experience, he trust the impressions he obtains from his own observations …” Judge Robert B. Young concluded.

“That may be so. It does not, however, given all the [off-setting] factors, provide the element of reasonableness necessary to turn the suggestion of a suspicion into a legitimate stop.”

While briefly following Mr. Jones’s vehicle, according to the Court he “committed no other traffic violation – speeding, swerving, going over the imaginary center line, equipment failure of anything whatsoever.”

Police car video indicated Mr. Jones and a passenger were both wearing seatbelts as an officer approached on foot, and no movement indicated that they had moved to engage the device while the vehicle was in motion.

A trial is scheduled for Feb. 20, and also includes resisting arrest, driver’s license suspended/revoked, insurance card, driver seatbelt and no passenger seatbelt charges. A Final Case Review is scheduled for Feb. 15.

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