Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Pre-Emptive Arrest? Sorry. No Can Do

This is a tough call.

A Wisconsin appeals court has ruled in favor of a woman who was stopped for drunken driving after a police officer smelled alcohol on her breath.

The District 2 Court of Appeals ruled Wednesday that merely smelling alcohol on a driver's breath before they get behind the wheel falls short of reasonable suspicion that the driver is drunk.

The court notes that while it is illegal in the state to drive drunk, it is not illegal to have had a drink before driving.

The case involved a Pewaukee police officer who saw Brittany Meye get into her car at a gas station around 3:30 a.m. on Jan. 23, 2009. The officer smelled a strong odor of alcohol and arrested her for drunken driving before she even drove the car.



steveegg said...

Would it be a bit easier call if the officer observed the woman driving into the gas station and getting out of the driver's side door before he noticed the smell of alcohol on the couple? The last I checked, vehicles don't drive themselves.

steveegg said...

Of course, the assistant DA prosecuting the case screwed up by dropping the legally-drunk charge and instead pursuing the operating-while-intoxicated one.