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Reasonable Suspicion – Traffic Stop

County of Sheboygan v. Kenneth E. Mauser, 2011AP2153, District 2, 2/29/12

court of appeals decision (1-judge, not for publication); for Mauser: Chad A. Lanning; case activity

Failure to dim high-beam headlights, along with weaving within and outside the traffic lane, provided grounds for a traffic stop.

¶10      The circuit court properly looked to the totality of the circumstances and found the stop reasonable.  The circuit court did not rely exclusively on either the high-beam headlight use or the weaving; rather, the circuit court looked at all the circumstances surrounding the stop and found reasonable suspicion.  The circuit court’s factual findings are not erroneous, and we confirm the circuit court’s application of these facts to the law.  There was reasonable suspicion to stop Mauser.

¶11      Regarding high-beam usage, when Wimmer first noticed Mauser, Mauser was traveling in the opposite direction on the divided highway.  Wimmer testified that Mauser did not dim his lights even though other vehicles were within 500 feet, traveling in the same direction as Mauser’s vehicle.  The operation of high beams within 500 feet of another vehicle can establish reasonable suspicion to stop a vehicle.  See State v. Tomaszewski, 2010 WI App 51, ¶¶10-11, 324 Wis. 2d 433, 782 N.W.2d 725.  Wimmer’s testimony that Mauser did not dim his high-beam headlights is enough to give Wimmer reasonable suspicion to stop Mauser.

¶12      …  Weaving can contribute to reasonable suspicion that a driver is impaired so as to justify an investigatory stop. See Post, 301 Wis. 2d 1, ¶¶37-38 (weaving, even within a lane, can be part of the totality of circumstances justifying a stop)

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