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Officer had reasonable suspicion for traffic stop

State v. Jeffrey Jacob Udelhofen, 2016AP385-CR, 8/4/16, District 4 91-judge opinion; ineligible for publication); case activity (including briefs)

The defendant was convicted of driving with a PAC (3rd offense). He appealed the denial of his suppression motion and argued that the State: (a) waited too long–until closing arguments at the suppression hearing–to specify which traffic law he allegedly violated; and (b) lacked reasonable suspicion to stop his car. The court of appeals held:

¶9 Udelhofen misunderstands the burden for reasonable suspicion to justify a traffic stop. For an initial stop to be valid, the officer must have at least reasonable suspicion, under the totality of the circumstances, to believe that a crime or traffic violation has been or will be committed. Popke, 317 Wis. 2d 118, ¶10, and Walli, 334 Wis. 2d 402, ¶8. The constitutionality of an initial stop does not depend on when the State specifies at a suppression hearing the statute the officer believed was violated, nor does an actual violation have to have occurred.

¶10 In this case, Officer Schwartz testified that he observed Udelhofen’s vehicle cross the center of the road into the left lane of traffic, and the video admitted at the hearing shows that Udelhofen’s vehicle drove down the center of the roadway for approximately five seconds. I conclude that Officer Schwartz had at least reasonable suspicion to believe that Udelhofen had violated WIS. STAT. § 346.05, and therefore affirm.

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