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Wisconsin Supreme Court overturns drunk driving decision

While most people in Wisconsin and across the country are aware the United States Constitution provides a variety of different protections, many are unaware of the full scope of them. For example, some may not know that they are protected from unreasonable searches and seizures. Unfortunately, dissenters of a recent Wisconsin Supreme Court ruling argue the majority's decision in a drunk driving case could erode a person's Fourth Amendment rights.

The case involves a man who a deputy allegedly attempted to pull over in April 2013 because he had a broken brake light. The deputy claims that the man failed to stop but instead continued another 100 feet before pulling into the garage attached to his house. Reports indicate that the deputy parked in the man's driveway and requested that he step out of the car and talk with him, which the man allegedly failed to do.

Instead, the officer is said to have grabbed the man as he stepped from his car into his house. He allegedly informed the officer that he had been consumed alcoholic beverages that day and consented to a search of his car. The search allegedly revealed marijuana and drug paraphernalia. A blood draw reportedly revealed a blood alcohol concentration of .24. He pleaded no contest to several charges stemming from the incident but later filed an appeal, arguing that the officer violated his Fourth Amendment rights when he entered the garage.

A Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the man, recommending the the conviction be overturned. The court explained that the man's rights were violated and the deputy should have obtained a search warrant before entering the garage. However, the Wisconsin Supreme Court reversed the decision, saying what was described as a hot pursuit created exigent circumstances. Dissenters claim that the ruling could result in an encroachment of a person's right to privacy.

Unfortunately, the average person in Wisconsin who is accused of drunk driving may be unable to recognize a rights violations or, if they do, know the appropriate path to rectifying the wrong. Regardless of the details of the case, having an experienced attorney can help those facing criminal charges create a plan of action. Defendants who are able to make informed decisions about their case may feel less stress as they navigate through the criminal justice system.

Source: jsonline.com, "Home's garage no safe zone for driver", Bruce Vielmetti, Dec. 1, 2016

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