≡ Menu

COA rejects challenges to OWI refusal

State v. Michael A. Wilson, 2022AP1099, District IV, 8/31/23, 1-judge decision ineligible for publication; case activity (briefs not available)

Despite some procedural quirks, the Court of Appeals wastes no time in affirming what turns out to be a relatively straightforward refusal conviction.

Wilson appeals a conviction for refusing to take an evidentiary test following his arrest for a suspected OWI in 2018. (¶2). Police received a tip about a possible drunk driver leaving a bowling alley; when they observed what they believed to be the car in question, they witnessed some swerving within the lane of traffic. (¶3). Upon seizing the car, Wilson was observed to have slurred speech as well as bloodshot and glassy eyes. (¶4). There was an odor of intoxicants and Wilson admitted that he was coming from a bar. (Id.). Wilson was eventually arrested for a suspected OWI and refused to submit to a blood test. (¶5). Citations for both first-offense OWI and a refusal were filed in municipal court. (Id.). Wilson then pleaded guilty to the OWI in exchange for dismissal of the refusal. (Id.).

In 2020, Wilson picked up another OWI and, presumably hoping to mitigate the potential penalty in that case, moved to reopen and dismiss his first-offense OWI in municipal court because that “first” was really a “second.” (¶6). Under the terms of a stipulation entered into with the municipality, the OWI was reopened and amended to a reckless driving citation. (Id.). There was no discussion of the refusal. (Id.). This led the State, in 2021, to initiate a new refusal action in circuit court. (¶7). Wilson was ultimately convicted in circuit court. (¶12).

On appeal, Wilson first argues that the doctrine of “claim preclusion” prevented the State from refiling the refusal. (¶13). The dispute focuses on “whether there was a final judgment with respect to the original refusal in a ‘court of competent jurisdiction.'”(¶15). Thus, although Wilson previously attacked his municipal OWI citation on the theory that the court lacked competency in what was factually a second-offense OWI, Wilson now seeks to impute competency to the municipal court due to the State’s failure to argue a lack of competency. (¶17). Thus, even though Wilson “expressly concedes” the municipal court wasn’t competent, he asks COA to find the exact opposite due to a relatively novel forfeiture argument. (Id.). In an appeal rapidly beginning to sound like the setup for Marx Brothers routine, COA doesn’t bite. (Id.).

Next, Wilson–despite never raising such an argument below–bravely challenges the refusal under a theory that there was insufficient reasonable suspicion to conduct a traffic stop. (¶18). However, he does not “provide any authority” to support his arguments. (¶25). Examining the overall record–including the tip, corroborated by the officer’s observations, as well as the driving behavior–COA is satisfied there was sufficient reasonable suspicion here. (Id.)

{ 0 comments… add one }

Leave a Comment