Traffic Stops Reduce Crime in Milwaukee

In mid-October, Milwaukee Police stepped up traffic enforcement targeting dangerous driver behavior.  The focus has been on speeding, reckless driving, and running red lights.  This heightened level of enforcement has resulted in a decrease in crime when compared with the same length of time prior to the enforcement beginning.  Some of the reductions include:

  • A 29% decrese in nonfatal shootings;
  • A 25% decrease in vehicle thefts;
  • A 9% decrease in robberies;
  • A 6% decrease in car crashes;

The enforcement area focused on 50 specific locations within the city.  At these areas, there was an increase in overall stops by 56% and the issuance of citations increase by 111%.  When compared with the same time period of 2016, traffic crashes decreased by 21% overall.

Refresher on Traffic Stops

There are two main ways police can pull you over.  The most common is when the officer observes a traffic violation.  If an officer observes a traffic violation, they have probable cause to stop your vehicle to investigate the traffic violation.  Common reasons for stops are:

  • Speeding;
  • Expired or suspended registration;
  • Driving without headlights on;
  • Running a stop sign or red light;
  • Not wearing seatbelts;

There might not always be clear evidence of a traffic violation, but the way you are driving may lead an officer to suspect something is going on.  This is called reasonable suspicion.  An officer can pull you over if he has reason to believe that an offense has occurred, is occurring, or is about to occur.  The officer has to be able to articulate the facts and circumstances that led to your stop.  Some common traffic stops involving reasonable suspicion include:

  • Weaving within your lane;
  • Tinted windows;
  • Driving below the speed limit;
  • Parking in a lot after the business has closed;
  • A tip/911 call from another motorist;

Other facts officers consider when making a stop without actually observing are the time of day and road conditions.  Most often, the above stops lead to an OWI investigation.  The officer doesn’t actually know you are impaired, but he can use his observations to reasonably suspect that you may be impaired.  The reasonable suspicion standard allows him to pull you over to investigate his suspicions further.

A Quick Note on the Smell of Marijuana

Remember, if officers pull you over and can smell the odor of marijuana emanating from your vehicle, they now have probable cause to not only arrest you, but to search your vehicle for the source of the odor.  Don’t smoke marijuana in your car.  Appellate courts have ruled that that smell alone gives officers the ability to search, which often leads to the discovery of drug paraphernalia or weapons.  If you don’t want the police looking through your belongings, don’t smoke marijuana in your car.

What if there Wasn’t Enough to Pull Me Over?

Police need a reason to stop you.  Uncalibrated equipment, faulty cameras, lying police officers, and numerous other scenarios bring the possibility of getting your traffic stop thrown out.  If the police don’t satisfy the appropriate standard, filing a motion could result in a judge ruling the stop illegal.

Whether you are issued a traffic citation or arrested and charged with a crime, the police still need a reason to pull you over.  If they can’t meet that threshold, you need an experienced criminal defense firm on your side.  You can see from the numbers above that police within the city of Milwaukee are increasing the number of stops they make.  If you are driving in the city, you can, and should, expect to be stopped.  Even if it is just a simple traffic ticket, those demerit points on your license add up quickly.  We can often reduce the points through negotiations with the prosecutor.  You should strongly consider hiring an attorney to help you.  Contact one of our attorneys today!