In a previous post, we discussed how the Wisconsin Supreme Court recently made a very important decision concerning the constitutionality of the new hearsay law passed by the legislature back in 2012. As it turns out, this wasn't the only significant decision reached by the court, as it issued another ruling just last week that many legal experts are already saying will transform traditional traffic stops.
The case in question concerns the relatively common tactic used by police departments of performing a traffic stop for defective taillights, only to have it expand into a broader request to search an automobile in an attempt to uncover drugs, guns or other illegal materials.
According to the facts, a Milwaukee man, who was on extended supervision for committing a prior felony, was riding in the passenger seat of his 1977 Buick Electra back on the evening of July 3, 2010. The car, being driven by a designated driver, was eventually pulled over by police for a defective taillight, which was later described by one of the officers on scene as one of three broad light bands on the driver's side being burnt out. A subsequent search of the car soon uncovered a handgun.