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Evidence supported probable cause for OWI and PBT

State v. Jessica Ann Stofflet, 2014AP823-CR, 10/16/14, District 4 (one-judge decision, ineligible for publication); case activity

The court of appeals held that the officer who stopped Stofflet’s vehicle and conducted a preliminary breath test had probable cause to believe she was committing OWI.

The officer observed that she had deviated within her lane, swerved over the fog line, varied her speed, swerved into the left lane, engaged in hard braking and slowed to 35 mph in a 65 mph zone. It was 4:30 a.m.  Her car smelled of alcohol. Her speech was slow or slurred. Her right eye was bloodshot and glassy, and she admitted that she had consumed a couple of drinks earlier that evening.

Stofflet is employed as a dancer at a bar. She argued that she was afraid that she was being stalked or followed as she drove home on a semi-rural road.  The court of appeals held that these facts added to, rather than subtracted from probable cause:

While it might be reasonable to slow down a bit to see if a following vehicle will pass, Stofflet’s hard braking and excessively slow speed were likely indicative of intoxicated driving. That is to say, a reasonable officer could view Stofflet’s statement about a stalker as a quickly made-up and poor excuse for obviously suspicious driving behavior. And, of course, if the facts support a reasonable inference of unlawful conduct, the officer is entitled to draw that inference “notwithstanding the existence of other innocent inferences that could be drawn.” See State v. Anderson, 155 Wis. 2d 77, 84, 454 N.W.2d 763 (1990).


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