≡ Menu

Traffic stop based on failure to signal before turning doesn’t require evidence that failing to signal actually affected other traffic

State v. Manuel Talavera, 2015AP701-CR, District 2, 9/9/15 (one-judge decision; ineligible for publication); case activity (including briefs)

To  justify a warrantless traffic stop based on a violation of § 346.34(1)(b), the officer doesn’t need evidence that a driver’s failure to signal before turning his vehicle actually affected other traffic because the statute simply requires motorists to signal turns whenever “other traffic may be affected by the movement.” Thus, evidence that Talavera failed to signal when there was a (police) vehicle following two car lengths behind him was sufficient to justify stopping him.

¶7     ….. According to Talavera, in order for there to be a violation of [§ 346.34(1)(b)], another vehicle must be affected by his failure to signal and the evidence must show this effect, such as through sudden braking or swerving to avoid a collision. We disagree. By its plain language, § 346.34(1)(b) requires a motorist to use a turn signal when “any other traffic may be affected by the movement.” (Emphasis added.) An actual effect on other traffic by the motorist’s movement is not required.

¶8     Talavera’s reliance on State v. Anagnos, 2011 WI App 118, 337 Wis. 2d 57, 805 N.W.2d 722, reversed on other grounds, 2012 WI 64, 341 Wis. 2d 576, 815 N.W.2d 675, is misplaced. In Anagnos, we held that the defendant could not be stopped for a violation of WIS. STAT. § 346.34(1)(b) for making a left turn without signaling when the only other vehicle in the vicinity was the deputy’s vehicle in the far right-hand turn lane. Anagnos, 337 Wis. 2d 57, ¶9. Not only was the deputy not affected by the defendant’s left turn in Anagnos, but because of the location of his vehicle, there was no possibility that the deputy could have been affected. See id.

¶9     In contrast, [Deputy] Knipfer testified at the suppression hearing that he was about two car lengths directly behind Talavera when he followed him through three turns that Talavera failed to signal ahead of time. It is reasonable to infer that a vehicle traveling two car lengths behind another may be affected when the lead car makes a turn, and therefore it was reasonable for Knipfer to suspect that Talavera violated WIS. STAT. § 346.34(1)(b) by failing to signal his impending turns. There was reasonable suspicion for the stop.

{ 0 comments… add one }

Leave a Comment