A ruling from the Wisconsin Supreme Court sets a new standard for police and how they can justify a traffic stop.
Police found marijuana in a car after they stopped the driver for having an air freshener and a GPS unit on the dashboard that allegedly obstructed his view.
A lower court ruled the items on the dashboard were not illegal and therefore the stop and the search violated his rights.
But a new ruling says in some cases it’s reasonable for an officer to misinterpret traffic regulations.
“The standard that our court has now adopted, in essence, forgives an officer’s mistake if a reasonable judge could see why the officer was confused,” Hanna Schieber Jurss, a state public defender said.
“I don’t know how citizens can avoid being stopped because now it’s not enough to follow the law, You also have to make sure your conduct is within this broader prohibition of things where an officer might believe is illegal even when it’s not.”
Walter claims the ruling is a significant reduction in the liberties of all state residents.
There is no requirement that the Wisconsin court follow the U.S. Supreme Court’s interpretation of the 4th Amendment protection against unreasonable search and seizure, and cases where searches are justified on the basis of an officer’s mistaken interpretation of law should be very rare.
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