There was reasonable suspicion to administer field sobriety tests after “fender bender”

Milwaukee County v. Nicholas O. Moran, 2017AP1047 & 2017AP1048, District 1, 1/23/18 (one-judge decision; ineligible for publication); case activity (including briefs)

The totality of the circumstances provided reasonable suspicion to believe Moran was operating while intoxicated, so police were justified in continuing to detain Moran to conduct field sobriety tests.

¶32 The facts known to [Deputy] Kellner included that Moran (1) was involved in a rear-end accident, (2) had just left a Brewers baseball game, (3) admitted consuming four beers—(Kellner was also aware that people are not typically truthful with how much they have consumed), (4) had been drinking for approximately five hours, (5) gave a “weird,” vague and rambling explanation as to how the accident occurred and where he intended to exit the highway, which required Kellner to ask more pointed questions to ascertain what actually happened, (6) turned his head away and fumbled with items in his vehicle when he spoke—conduct that Kellner found “weird” because “[u]sually people at accident scenes are very direct and specific in getting their side of the story out,” (7) was chewing minty gum, and (8) was unsure of the time of day—which the trial court found reflected that Moran was intoxicated, perhaps confused….

Moran also argued the officer was not credible at the suppression hearing because he testified to facts not included in his police report. (¶23). But the circuit court specifically found the officer credible, noting there was nothing inconsistent between the testimony and the report and that “the written report just doesn’t contain all the details that came out in testimony.” (Id.). The circuit court’s credibility determination wasn’t clearly erroneous, as the officer’s testimony wasn’t inherently or patently incredible and there was contradictory evidence in the record, so Moran’s argument fails. (¶¶24-25).