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COA upholds traffic stop where motorist nearly struck curb several times, pulled into lot of closed business

State v. Michael Pruett Rudolf, 2022AP157, 10/31/23, District 3 (one-judge decision; ineligible for publication); case activity (including briefs)

An officer saw Rudolf swerve over the fog line and nearly strike the curb several times. Rudolf then drove lawfully for 3/4 of a mile before pulling into the parking lot of a closed auto dealership at 10:40 p.m. The officer detained Rudolf.  Lawful stop?

“Yes,” says the court of appeals. It declines to decide whether, as Rudolf argues, crossing the fog line is by itself a traffic violation. Instead it finds the totality of the circumstances–which include those, and only those, listed above–created reasonable suspicion. (¶5). It particularly states that it is “naturally—and strongly—influenced by the credited testimony that Rudolf was driving his vehicle in a widely and repeatedly meandering manner, which included nearly hitting the road’s curb six or seven times.” (¶8).

It then goes on in a pretty typical matter, rejecting an argument it construes as an attack on the credibility of the testifying officer (¶¶13-14), and another it says depends on requiring the officer to draw inferences supporting innocence rather than guilt. (¶18).


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