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Reasonable Suspicion – Basis – Traffic Stops – Administrative Code Equipment Violation (Excessive Tint) – Stop Effectuated by Local Police

State v. Dennis E. Bailey, 2009 WI App 140
For Bailey: Jeffrey W. Jensen

Issue/Holding1The police have authority to stop a vehicle for an equipment violation of an administrative code provision incorporated under local ordinance:

¶17      Wisconsin Stat. § 349.02(2)(a) and (b) expressly allow a police officer to stop a vehicle for violation of a statute or ordinance enacted under this chapter. …

¶18      The plain language of subsections (a) and (b) above authorizes a police officer to stop a vehicle for an ordinance violation if there is reasonable cause to believe that a violation of an ordinance properly enacted under ch. 349 has been committed. There is no dispute that Milwaukee, Wis., Ordinance § 101-4.5 was lawfully enacted under Wis. Stat. ch. 349. Moreover, Wis. Stat. § 800.02(6) authorizes a municipal police officer to arrest a person without a warrant based on reasonable grounds to believe that the person is violating a municipal ordinance. Therefore, under Wis. Stat. § 349.02(2)(a) and (b)1., Honzelka had authority to stop Bailey for the window tint ordinance violation.

Issue/Holding2:

¶19      Bailey next argues that only state patrol and DOT officers have authority to stop vehicles for equipment violations under the administrative code, based on two sections of Wis. Stat. ch. 110.

¶21      While it is clear that Wis. Stat. §§ 110.07 and 110.075 authorize the “traffic officers” of the state patrol and DOT to make stops and inspections and perhaps arrests for equipment violations, nothing in these statutes limits local law enforcements officers’ powers to do so. A City of Milwaukee police officer is a “traffic officer” under Wis. Stat. § 340.01(70), [3] and because § 110.075 provides that “any traffic officer” can stop and inspect vehicles for violations of ch. 110 or rules issued pursuant to ch. 110, and because Wis. Stat. § 349.02(2) permits a police officer to enforce a city ordinance violation upon reasonable basis to believe a violation has occurred, Honzelka had authority for the stop of Bailey for an ordinance violation.

 

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