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Reasonable Suspicion – Stop – Basis – Minor Traffic Offense

State v. Guy W. Colstad, 2003 WI App 25
For Colstad: T. Christopher Kelly

Issue/Holding: Although some United States Supreme Court cases seemingly assume that probable cause is required to support a stop for civil infractions, state precedent allows such a stop on reasonable suspicion, ¶12. The stop in this case is upheld:

¶14 The undisputed testimony demonstrates that the collision occurred on a straight road with “absolutely clear” conditions and no trees, obstructions, or parked cars on the side of the road. Colstad explained that, although he was driving slowly because he knew children were in the area, a child ran into the road and into the side of his pickup truck. One possible explanation is that provided by Colstad: Colstad was exercising due care and the child darted into his path. However, another reasonable explanation is that Colstad hit the child because Colstad was not exercising proper attentiveness. The officer was not required to believe Colstad’s explanation. Therefore, we conclude that the officer possessed a reasonable suspicion that Colstad was guilty of inattentive driving, contrary to WIS. STAT. § 346.89(1).


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