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Police had probable cause to believe motorcyclist they located in a bar was intoxicated before he got to the bar

State v. Kirk L. Griese, 2015AP180, District 4, 6/18/15 (one-judge decision; ineligible for publication); case activity (including briefs)

There was probable cause to believe Griese was operating under the influence, even though the officer arrested Griese while he was having a Bacardi and Coke in the bar to which he had driven.

¶8        Griese concedes that he had been operating his motorcycle and that there was sufficient evidence for a reasonable officer to believe that he was intoxicated when Officer Weinfurter made contact with him. Griese argues, however, that Officer Weinfurter did not have sufficient facts before him to believe that Griese had been intoxicated while Griese was driving his motorcycle. I disagree.

¶9        Officer Weinfurter testified that only thirty-one minutes passed between the time he was dispatched to investigate the report that a motorcycle had tipped over and the time that he placed Griese under arrest. Griese admitted that he had been drinking prior to arriving at the bar and Officer Weinfurter had information that Griese had consumed only a small amount of alcohol while at the bar. When Officer Weinfurter made contact with him, Griese smelled “strong[ly]” of intoxicants, his eyes were bloodshot and watery, and he was unstable on his feet, and Griese failed to cooperate with Officer Weinfurter’s requested field sobriety tests and a PBT.[4] Officer Weinfurter was also aware that Griese had tipped his motorcycle over while driving it, and Officer Weinfurter testified that Griese tried to minimize the significance of his accident.

[4]  See State v. Babbitt, 188 Wis. 2d 349, 363, 525 N.W.2d 102 (Ct. App. 1994) (“a defendant’s refusal to submit to [a field sobriety] test may be used as evidence of probable cause to arrest”).

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