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Traffic Stop – Reasonable Suspicion

State v. Todd A. Schreiber, 2011AP1191-CR, District 1, 12/13/11

court of appeals decision (1-judge, not for publication); for Schreiber: Dustin C. Haskell, SPD, Milwaukee Appellate; case activity

Lane deviations provided reasonable suspicion for traffic stop.

¶9        In applying these standards, we agree with the circuit court that Grunwald had sufficient reasonable suspicion to stop Schreiber.  Grunwald testified that he had five years of experience patrolling roads, was assigned to the OWI task force at the time of Schreiber’s stop, and had a total of seventeen years of experience with the sheriff’s office.  Grunwald also testified that he observed three separate lane deviations by Schreiber.  Schreiber relies on State v. Anagnos, 2011 WI App 118, ___ Wis. 2d ___, ___N.W.2d___, to argue that there is no evidence of a traffic violation in this case, as lane deviations, particularly within a driver’s own lane, are common to most drivers.  Although our supreme court declined to adopt a bright-line rule “that repeated weaving within a single lane alone gives rise to reasonable suspicion,” the court recognized that an evaluation of the totality of the circumstances is necessary for a determination of whether reasonable suspicion exists for a stop.  Post, 301 Wis. 2d 1, ¶14.  A single instance of weaving is not at issue.  Prior to weaving twice within his own lane, Schreiber was observed crossing over one foot from the center lane into the right lane without signaling a lane change.  Arguably, the individual deviations could have innocent explanations, but that is not determinative.  “The law of investigative stops allow police officers to stop a person when they have less than probable cause.…  [P]olice officers are not required to rule out the possibility of innocent behavior before initiating a brief stop.”  Waldner, 206 Wis. 2d at 59.

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