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Stop based on traffic violation, FSTs, and PBT upheld

State v. Frederick C. Thomas, III, 2014AP816-818, 2/19/15, District 4 (1-judge opinion; ineligible for publication); click here for briefs

Thomas was convicted of OWI, operating a car with a prohibited alcohol concentration, unsafe lane deviation, and failure to signal a turn. He challenged the stop, the extension of the stop to conduct field sobriety tests, and the administration of the preliminary breath test.  The circuit court denied suppression, and the court of appeals affirmed.

In a nutshell: The trooper had reasonable suspicion to stop Thomas’s car because he had entered the trooper’s lane without making a signal and while trying to pass the squad car. Slip op. ¶11. The trooper had reasonable suspicion to extend the stop to perform FSTs based on the fact that Thomas smelled of alcohol, admitted that he had consumed a couple of alcoholic beverages, and had glassy eyes.  Slip op. ¶19. The trooper also had probable cause to administer a PBT for these same reasons plus the fact that Thomas’s performance on the HGN test suggested that he was intoxicated. Slip op. ¶19.

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