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Reseasonable suspicion of impairment justified extension of traffic stop to conduct field sobriety tests

State v. Kenneth B. Burmeister, 2013AP1016-CR, District 3, 9/17/13; court of appeals decision (1-judge; ineligible for publication); case activity

Police lawfully extended a traffic stop to conduct field sobriety tests because the odor of alcohol, the driver’s initial “deflective answer”  to the question of whether he had been drinking, and his subsequent admission to drinking gave the police reasonable suspicion to believe the driver was impaired:

¶11      We reject Burmeister’s assertion that the facts observed by Logan suggest only the presence of alcohol. First, we agree with the court’s determination that Burmeister’s deflective answer coupled with his subsequent admission to drinking reasonably leads to a rational inference that, when Logan initially asked about alcohol, Burmeister believed he may be impaired and did not want Logan to discover his impairment. See [State v.] Post, [2007 WI 60,] 301 Wis. 2d 1, ¶10[, 733 N.W.2d 634] (rational inferences taken from specific and articulable facts are included in reasonable suspicion determination). Further, it is of no consequence that Logan did not specifically testify that he inferred Burmeister’s deflective answer followed by his admission to drinking was an indication that Burmeister was impaired. The test for reasonable suspicion is an objective one. See State v. Waldner, 206 Wis. 2d 51, 56, 556 N.W.2d 681 (1996); see also State v. Buchanan, 178 Wis. 2d 441, 447 n.2, 504 N.W.2d 400 (Ct. App. 1993) (“[I]t is the circumstances that govern, not the officer’s subjective belief.”). Finally, Logan did not need proof of “bad driving” for purposes of reasonable suspicion. See State v. Powers, 2004 WI App 143, ¶12 n.2, 275 Wis. 2d 456, 685 N.W.2d 869 (“Because an OWI conviction does not require proof of erratic driving, proof of erratic driving is obviously not required for purposes of a reasonable suspicion.”).

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