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Court of Appeals: traffic on East Courtland must yield to traffic on North Hopkins

State v. Randolph Arthur Mantie, 2015AP2443-CR, 3/7/17, District 1 (not recommended for publication); case activity (including briefs)

As the court notes, the relevant events in this case took place at a “hard-to-describe intersection” so here’s a visual aid. That dark-colored car is coming into the intersection moving east on Hopkins. It seems that stop sign may have been moved since the day of Mantie’s stop, but there was a stop sign. Per the testimony it was located some 20 or 25 feet back from the intersection; the building marked “BCM” sits on an acutely-angled corner and blocks the view between a car stopped at the stop sign and traffic coming south down Courtland. So, if you stopped at that sign, you’d have to creep up slowly to make sure you didn’t collide with that southbound traffic, since it doesn’t have a stop sign.

On the day of the stop that southbound traffic was a police officer, and he saw Mantie’s car come to a sudden stop from a decent speed right at the intersection–in other words, well beyond the stop sign. From this, the officer deduced that Mantie had not stopped at the stop sign, since he wouldn’t have been able to accelerate quickly enough from the stop sign to the corner to reach the speed the officer observed. This was good enough for reasonable suspicion, which led to a stop, which led ultimately to Mantie’s OWI arrest.

Both the trial court (which arranged a viewing of the intersection with the parties) and the court of appeals said more or less the above and thus rejected Mantie’s claim that the officer lacked reasonable suspicion that he’d blown the stop sign. The court of appeals also rejects a second argument that Mantie, rather than the officer, had the right of way at the intersection, which he argues was “uncontrolled” and thus governed by Wis. Stat. § 346.18(1) (giving right of way to the vehicle on the right hand).

Basically, Mantie is arguing that the twenty to twenty-five feet after the stop sign on Courtland and before the western edge of Hopkins created a new intersection that was uncontrolled within the meaning of WIS. STAT. § 346.18(1). But as the evidence plainly shows, the twenty to twenty-five feet was in reality nothing more than a slightly longer space between the stop sign and intersection. Mantie still had the duty to yield the right-of-way to the cars on Hopkins as WIS. STAT. § 346.46 states.


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