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COA: “canting,” swerving within lane, “shaking” were reasonable suspicion of OWI

State v. Denise R. Campbell, 2018AP1190, 7/16/19, District 3 (one-judge decision; ineligible for publication); case activity (including briefs)

This is a state’s appeal of the suppression of evidence derived from the stopping of Denise Campbell’s vehicle. The arresting deputy testified to various unusual driving behaviors and, in the court of appeals’ view, the trial court credited that testimony but misapplied the law to the facts. The court of appeals accordingly reverses the grant of suppression.

The deputy testified that, during the nighttime hours, Campbell’s vehicle was heading toward his in the opposing lane on a highway when it “canted” toward him such that he was afraid it would cross the centerline and hit him. (¶3). After turning to pursue Campbell, the deputy saw her vehicle “drifting back and forth within her lane of travel,” and touching the centerline with its wheels. During a turn, “the vehicle appeared to be shaking back and forth.” (¶¶4-5).

Per the court of appeals, this was enough, given that the circuit court said it didn’t “disbelieve” the deputy. A couple notes: first, the court reminds practitioners to refer to parties by name, rather than by party designation (e.g. no “Appellant” or Respondent). Second, the court declines to consider whether a later incident of crossing the centerline, and thereby driving left of center contrary to Wis. Stat. § 346.05, was good enough to support the stop on its own, because the state raised it for the first time on appeal (and also didn’t file a reply brief).

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