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Search and Seizure — Probable cause to administer PBT; admitting numeric PBT result at suppression hearing

Village of Muscoda v. Samuel R. Anderson, 2012AP2216, District 4, 5/16/13; court of appeals decision (1-judge, ineligible for publication); case activity

Police had probable cause to administer a PBT where: the officer noticed an odor of intoxicants emanating from Anderson or his vehicle; Anderson had bloodshot eyes and slightly slurred speech and admitted he had consumed five drinks over the course of the night; and Anderson’s performance on the walk-and-turn and one-leg-stand tests suggested he might be intoxicated. (¶¶2-4, 8-10). The lack of erratic driving, the possibility that Anderson’s eyes were bloodshot and his speech was slurred for reasons other than intoxication, and the minimal clues from the field sobriety tests do not change that result. (¶¶11-13).

Further, the court holds numeric result of the PBT is admissible to establish probable cause for arrest under§ 343.303, rejecting Anderson’s argument that the  definition of “result” under Wis. Adm. Code § Trans 311.03(12) and (13) allows only the admission of the fact the test showed the presence of alcohol:

¶16      …. The language of § 343.303 plainly states that a law enforcement officer may administer a PBT and rely on the PBT result in court to demonstrate probable cause for an arrest, where a defendant challenges the arrest, as in this case. We observe that the statute makes no reference to the administrative code to define “result” and thus Anderson’s attempt to narrow the meaning of “result” as a qualitative measure lacks support in the statute.  In addition, the only reasonable reading of the term “result,” when read in context of the entire statute, is as a measure of the amount of alcohol in a person’s blood at the time the test was administered.  Anderson’s narrow reading of “result” renders meaningless the use of a PBT result for the purpose of determining probable cause for arrest. Even Anderson points out on appeal that using the PBT result for the narrow purpose of ascertaining whether alcohol is present in a person’s blood only duplicates what an officer can readily observe from smelling a person’s breath or checking for slurred speech and bloodshot eyes.  To give meaning to the term “result,” we conclude that the legislature intended for the numeric result of a PBT to be admissible at a hearing to establish probable cause for an arrest, where the defendant challenges the arrest.

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