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COA: license suspension for 25 over in a 55 applies where 55 is posted

State v. Tisha Lee Love, 2022AP1422, 12/30/22, District 4 (one-judge decision; ineligible for publication); case activity (including briefs)

Love appeals a jury verdict rendered against her for driving 87 miles per hour in a 55 zone.

She first claims that the trial judge erred by not reading the jury a requested instruction informing them that she was not required to attend the trial and could instead defend, as she did, solely by counsel. The court of appeals rejects this argument, noting that the circuit court informed all potential jurors during voir dire that Love’s appearance was optional, and that the entire trial including voir dire lasted about an hour. The court says there “is no reason to think that this admonition from the circuit court was anything other than fresh in the jurors’ minds when the jury instructions were read.” (¶4).

Love also contends that the statutory requirement of a 15-day license suspension for driving 25 mph over the speed limit on a highway doesn’t apply to her. The argument is that Wis. Stat. § 343.30(1n), in describing situations where the speed limit is 55 mph, refers to Wis. Stat. § 346.57(4)(h). The latter section says the limit “[i]n the absence of any other fixed limits or the posting of limits as required or authorized by law” is 55. The stretch of road where Love was said to be driving 87 did, in fact, have a posted limit: 55. She says this means she could only be charged under Wis. Stat. § 346.57(5), which makes it illegal to drive faster than the posted limit.

The court of appeals disagrees. Its discussion is somewhat ornate, but boils down to the observation that § 346.57(4)(h) makes it illegal to drive over 55 mph on most state highways. The exceptions the provision enumerates–other fixed limits or the posting of limits–do not apply here to change that 55 mph limit. So Love exceeded this statute’s limit by more than 25 mph, and is subject to the associated license suspension in § 343.30(1n). (¶¶7-18).

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