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Wisconsin Supreme Court Upholds DOJ Petition On Drunk Driving Stops

 

MADISON - Reaffirming the "totality of circumstances" test for determining when a police officer may stop a motorist on reasonable suspicion of drunk driving, the Wisconsin Supreme Court today upheld the fifth-offense drunk driving conviction of a Sauk County man. Robert Post had pled no contest to driving with a blood-alcohol content of 0.21 percent. On the Wisconsin Department of Justice (DOJ) petition, the Supreme Court's 6-to-1 decision overturned a Court of Appeals' decision in State v. Robert Post.

 

The Supreme Court concluded that although Post's driving did not, technically, deviate from a single lane of traffic, it nonetheless was suspicious enough to justify an investigative traffic stop based on the following constellation of factors: "that Post was weaving across the travel and [unmarked] parking lanes, that the weaving created a discernible S-type pattern, that Post's vehicle was canted into the parking lane, and that the incident took place at [9:30] at night."

 

Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen, whose office brought the state's appeal, hailed today's decision. "The facts underscoring the decision better inform law-enforcement officers, the courts and the public on what unusual driving behavior will warrant an investigative stop," Van Hollen said. "Today's holding helps clarify what investigative steps an officer can take to protect the public from drunk driving."

 

Sauk County Assistant District Attorney Kevin Calkins prosecuted the case, and the state's appeal was handled by Assistant Attorney General James M. Freimuth.

 

Click here for a link to the full Decision.