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Traffic Stop: Reasonable Suspicion

State v. Robert A. Tomaszewski, 2010 WI App 51; for Tomazewski: Devon M. Lee, SPD, Madison Appellate; Resp. Br.; Reply Br.

¶6 n. 3:

Tomaszewski argues this is not a case in which reasonable suspicion that he was violating a traffic law would justify the stop. In Tomaszewski’s view, a temporary detention may be justified by reasonable suspicion only where an officer cannot determine, without further investigation, whether a traffic violation has occurred. This is not the law. See, e.g., Wis. Stat. § 968.24; State v. Post, 2007 WI 60, ¶13, 301 Wis. 2d 1, 733 N.W.2d 634; State v. Griffin, 183 Wis. 2d 327, 330-31, 515 N.W.2d 535 (Ct. App. 1994) (temporary detention justified whenever police reasonably suspect the individual stopped has committed a crime).

Police had reasonable suspicion to stop vehicle for violating § 347.12(1)(b), which requires dimming high beams within 500 of vehicle in front:

¶10      We conclude Wis. Stat. § 347.12(1)(b) does not require proof that the headlights reflected into the eyes of another driver. The statute directs drivers operating within 500 feet to dim their headlights, and concludes by describing the purpose of this requirement: to prevent the glaring rays from reflecting into another driver’s eyes. Tomaszewski’s interpretation would require an ordinary driver using high beams to know whether his or her headlights will impair another driver’s vision. This interpretation is absurd; drivers are in no position to determine whether their vehicle’s high beams glare into the eyes of other drivers. To avoid this problem, the statute assumes the use of high beams within 500 feet will cause impairment, and prohibits their use.

¶11      Under this interpretation, the circuit court properly found that Danielson possessed reasonable suspicion Tomaszewski was in violation of Wis. Stat. § 347.12(1)(b). It found Tomaszewski used his vehicle’s high beams while operating within 500 feet of the semi truck. These findings are not clearly erroneous and the circuit court properly denied Tomaszewski’s suppression motion.

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{ 1 comment… add one }
  • Mark Gumz March 23, 2010, 9:33 pm

    There goes court of appeals again in their Buick Century on the way home from the casino early bird special, holding up traffic, left blinker still on after 4 miles but they still aren’t turning-they are still talking about the absurdity of using common sense to judge high beam glare, a traffic violation, not a crime. Meanwhile the drivers are left to wonder just how to measure 500′ while we drive at night and do a story problem featuring “a car leaving Madison at 55 mph approaches a car coming from Milwaukee…meanwhile a trooper watches and estimates time over a premeasured distance…” or look on a blackberry to convert MPH to feet/sec.

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