Criminal Defense and Family Law Attorney

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The (potential) impact of Grant County v. Vogt

Recently the Supreme Court of Wisconsin decided an Operating while Intoxicated 1st case (Grant County v Vogt).  The media has mislabeled this case in my opinion.


The background of the case is that a man (Vogt) drove into a closed park, and parked his car.  For a police officer to effectuate at traffic stop, the officer needs REASONABLE SUSPICION key word is reasonable.  They need to have a reasonable suspicion that some criminal activity is afoot.  In this case, the Supreme Court of Wisconsin decided that the officer did not have reasonable suspicion to effectuate a traffic stop so when the officer knocked on the window of Vogt’s car, Vogt had the ability to simply drive away.  Because Vogt did not drive away, he allowed the officer to continue his investigation which gave the officer probable cause because of the smell of alcohol emanating from his vehicle. 

​​Based on this decision, had the officer gotten back into his car, turned on his emergency lights and effectuated a traffic stop, the officer would not have had reasonable suspicion to do so and the case would have been thrown out.  EXCEPT, for the idea that the officer could state that Vogt fled from him which then, in turn, gave him reasonable suspcion.  This is an entirely different scenario which, based on this case, I suspect we will see in the near future, especially because of how the media has construed this case.

Why is this case being mislabeled you may ask?  Well because when a police officer HAS reasonable suspicion and you drive away then you also get an added bonus to your ticket list for fleeing an officer.  It takes someone with a more than basic understanding of 4th Amendment Constitutional Law to know when an officer does and does not have reasonable suspicion to effectuate a stop of a vehicle. Reasonable suspicion is such a contested area of 4th amendment jurisprudence that it is constantly argued throughout all levels of the court system.  So by having the media say that when a cop knocks on your window you can simply drive away is, in my opinion, giving bad advice to the general public.

Here's a good example…A constant battle in the criminal justice system are cases involving operating while intoxicated where the defendant was sleeping in their car with the keys in the ignition.  The way that this case seems to read, is that a person sleeping in a car does not have to respond to the officer or can drive away from an officer knocking on their window.  The issue is, then the officer may have a “reasonable suspicion” to pull the person over, which allows the stop anyways.  ​​Honestly, it will be interesting to see where the courts go from here on these types of cases, but only time will tell.