High court overturns Walworth County traffic ruling

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Thursday, June 28, 2012
— The Wisconsin Supreme Court disagreed Tuesday with a Walworth County judge who ruled that the 2010 traffic stop of a Lake Geneva man was unconstitutional.

Dimitrius Anagnos, 47, of 110 West St. was stopped Jan. 31, 2010, by a Walworth County sheriff's deputy who reported erratic driving. Anagnos was cited for operating while intoxicated and refused to submit to a blood test to check his blood-alcohol content. At a refusal hearing, Anagnos claimed the deputy had no reasonable suspicion to stop his vehicle.

Walworth County Judge Robert Kennedy concluded the deputy had not had reasonable suspicion to stop the vehicle and suppressed all evidence that resulted from the stop. In his verbal decision, Kennedy referred to the lack of any illegal activity on Anagnos' part.

Kennedy's ruling vacated the need to revoke Anagnos' license for refusing to submit to a chemical test.

The state appealed Kennedy's decision to the District 2 Court of Appeals, which upheld Kennedy's ruling. The Supreme Court overturned the appeals court and sent the case back to Walworth County to have Anagnos' licensed revoked.

The arresting deputy said he saw Anagnos drive over a divided highway barrier, rapidly accelerate from a stop light and turn without using a turn signal. The Supreme Court ruled that a traffic stop does not have to be based on observation of illegal activity.

"When we consider the totality of the facts and circumstances in this case, we conclude that the arresting officer pointed to specific and articulable facts, which taken together with rational inferences from those facts, give rise to the reasonable suspicion necessary for an investigative stop," wrote Justice Ann Walsh Bradley for the 5-0 majority.

Justices N. Patrick Crooks and David Prosser did not participate in the decision.

"Because the stop of Anagnos' vehicle was supported by reasonable suspicion, the circuit court erred in concluding that the stop was unconstitutional," Bradley said. "Under these circumstances, we reverse the court of appeals and remand to the circuit court to revoke Anagnos' operating privileges."

Last updated: 8:42 pm Thursday, December 13, 2012

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