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COA: speeding, red eyes and dilated pupils were reasonable suspicion for OWI

State v. Michelle Greenwood, 2019AP248, 6/9/20, District 3 (one-judge decision; ineligible for publication) case activity (including briefs)

Greenwood was pulled over for going 81 when the speed limit was 70. The officer testified her eyes were glassy and bloodshot and that her pupils were quite dilated, and did not constrict quickly when he shined his flashlight on them. Per the court of appeals, this was good enough to continue to detain her after the speeding was addressed in order to investigate suspected marijuana intoxication.

The parties disagreed about just when the stop was extended past its original purpose, such that reasonable suspicion became necessary. See State v. Hogan, 2015 WI 76, ¶35, 364 Wis. 2d 167, 868 N.W.2d 124. This could have been significant because the officer learned a couple additional facts a little later in the stop which might have bolstered the argument for reasonable suspicion. But, says the court of appeals, no matter: the speeding plus the observations of the eyes (filtered, of course, through the officer’s claimed expertise in identifying drug use by the conditions of a person’s eyes) were enough to extend the stop all by themselves:

We reject Greenwood’s arguments regarding Klieforth’s lack of reasonable suspicion before she exited her vehicle. First, Klieforth had observed additional indicia of impairment than just his observations of her eyes—namely, her speeding. Moreover, Klieforth observed multiple signs of drug use from Greenwood’s eyes. With respect to her pupils specifically, Klieforth noticed two different signs—first, the “extremely large” pupils, and, second, the slow manner in which the pupils “rebounded” after Klieforth shined light on them.


The court also rejects Greenwood’s reliance on Hogan, in which the supreme court upheld a trial court’s ruling that the officer’s observations of the defendant’s eyes didn’t amount to reasonable suspicion of drug use. The court here leans heavily on the speeding, and also observes that the officer here tied his observations more closely to his training than did the one in Hogan. (¶¶21-25).

{ 1 comment… add one }
  • Christian Thomas June 17, 2020, 8:19 am

    Since when is Speeding “indicia of intoxication?” If that is the case, then I am ALWAYS drunk.

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