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State v. Smith

Supreme Court of Wisconsin

January 9, 2018

State of Wisconsin, Plaintiff-Respondent-Petitioner,
v.
Frederick S. Smith, Defendant-Appellant.

          Submitted on Briefs oral argument: September 5, 2017

         REVIEW OF A DECISION OF THE COURT OF APPEALS Reported at 372 Wis.2d 184, 888 N.W.2d 22 (2016 - Unpublished)

         Circuit Court County, L.C. No. 2014CF667, Dane Stephen E. Ehlke Judge.

          For the plaintiff-respondent-petitioner there were briefs by Tiffany M. Winter,, assistant attorney general, with whom on the briefs were Brad D. Schimel, attorney general, and Lisa E.F. Kumfer, assistant attorney general. There was an oral argument by Tiffany M. Winter.

          For the defendant-appellant there was a brief and oral argument by Christopher D. Sobic, assistant state public defender.

          REBECCA GRASSL BRADLEY, J.

         ¶1 We are asked to decide whether the police violated Frederick S. Smith's Fourth Amendment rights when a police officer asked for his driver's license during a traffic stop even though reasonable suspicion for the stop dissipated as the officer approached the car, or when the police officer opened the passenger door after being told the driver's door and window were broken. The Fourth Amendment protects "against unreasonable searches and seizures, ''[1] and our analysis focuses on what is reasonable in light of the particular circumstances. See Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1, 21 (1968); see also Elkins v. United States, 364 U.S. 206, 222 (1960)("What the Constitution forbids is not all searches and seizures, but unreasonable searches and seizures.").

         ¶2 We hold that when an officer conducts a valid traffic stop, part of that stop includes checking identification, even if the reasonable suspicion that formed the basis for the stop in the first place has dissipated. See Rodriguez v. United States, 135 S.Ct. 1609, 1615 (2015) ("Beyond determining whether to issue a traffic ticket, an officer's mission includes 'ordinary inquiries incident to [the traffic] stop.'" (citing Illinois v. Caballes, 543 U.S. 405, 408 (2005)); State v. Williams, 2002 WI.App. 306, ¶1, 258 Wis.2d 395, 655 N.W.2d 462');">655 N.W.2d 462 ("We conclude the officer had the requisite reasonable suspicion to stop Williams's vehicle to determine if he was the suspect in a domestic abuse incident. We also conclude that, because the initial detention was lawful, the officer could properly ask Williams his name and for identification even if she had already decided he was not the suspect.") . Asking for a driver's license does not impermissibly extend a stop because it is part of the original mission of the traffic stop. However, the "ordinary inquiries, " which are related in scope to the purpose of a traffic stop, must be executed within the time it should have reasonably taken to complete them. Rodriguez, 135 S.Ct. at 1614.

         ¶3 We further hold the police officer's act of opening the passenger door in order to effectively communicate with a driver otherwise inaccessible due to the malfunctioning driver's door and window did not constitute an unreasonable search because the officer's actions, viewed objectively, would warrant a person of reasonable caution to believe the action taken was appropriate. See Terry, 392 U.S. at 21-22. Because Smith's stop was reasonably executed, we hold that no Fourth Amendment violation occurred. The circuit court[2] correctly denied Smith's suppression motion. Accordingly, the decision of the court of appeals[3] is reversed and Smith's judgment of conviction stands.

         I. BACKGROUND

         ¶4 On April 6, 2014, Madison Police Sergeant Bernard Gonzalez's duties included monitoring a Madison neighborhood for gang retaliation following what police believed to be gang-related shots fired the previous night. At about 10:45 p.m., Gonzalez, while parked in the watch area, observed a car with dark tinted windows drive by and stop in the middle of the street for 10 to 15 seconds.[4] This drew Gonzalez's attention "because [the car] did not pull to the curb. It stopped in the middle of the street."[5] Then, a passenger got out of the car and walked to apartment buildings, after which the car drove away. Gonzalez followed the car, checked the license plate, and learned the registered owner, Amber Smith, had a suspended driver's license. Gonzalez activated the squad's lights to get the car to pull over. The car did not pull over right away, but proceeded to turn off the main street and turn again into a parking lot before finally pulling into a parking space and stopping. When Gonzalez was five-to-ten feet from the driver's door, he "was pretty sure" the driver was not Amber Smith because the driver appeared to be a man. When the sergeant asked[6] the dr iver, later identified as Frederick Smith, to open the door or roll down the window, Smith shrugged his shoulders and responded that both the door and window were broken. As is his typical practice in a traffic stop with an inoperable driver's side door and window, Gonzalez walked to the passenger side of the car to speak "more effectively" with Smith. Smith appeared to be cooperating and moving toward the passenger seat, either activating the lock or reaching for the passenger door handle. Gonzalez did not ask Smith to open the passenger side door or window; rather, the sergeant put his hand on the door handle, and testified that "together we opened the door." "[Smith] reached over and worked the door handle." Gonzalez, believing Smith was cooperating by moving toward the passenger seat and trying to open the passenger door, testified that they "simultaneously . . . opened the door."[7]

         ¶5 Smith admitted that he "was maneuvering to the passenger seat" after telling Gonzalez the driver's door and window were broken. Smith explained that "every day I use the car, I pull on the handle to get out because the driver's side don't open." Smith also said he stopped in that parking lot because he lived in a building next to it.

         ¶6 With the door open, Gonzalez observed that Smith had red, bloodshot eyes, and smelled of alcohol. When Gonzalez asked Smith for his driver's license, Smith responded that his license had been revoked. After conducting field sobriety tests, Gonzalez arrested Smith and took him to the police station where Smith refused to voluntarily give a blood sample. Gonzalez obtained a warrant and transported Smith to the hospital for the evidentiary blood test. Afterwards, Gonzalez drove Smith to the Dane County Jail where he agreed to provide a breath sample pursuant to the jail admitting procedures. The breath test showed Smith's blood alcohol to be .38. The State charged Smith with operating a motor vehicle under the influence of an intoxicant, seventh offense.

         ¶7 Smith moved to suppress all evidence acquired from the traffic stop, arguing that when Gonzalez saw a man (rather than a woman) driving the car, reasonable suspicion dissolved, and the stop should have immediately ceased. He also argued Gonzalez violated the Fourth Amendment when he opened the passenger door without any lawful basis to do so. The trial court denied Smith's motion and he pled guilty to operating a motor vehicle under the influence, seventh offense, contrary to Wis.Stat. §§ 346.63(1) (a) and 939.62(1) (b) (2015-16).[8]

         ¶8 Smith did not file a postconviction motion but appealed to the court of appeals, arguing that all evidence should be suppressed and his judgment should be vacated because: (1) once Gonzalez saw a man (instead of a woman) behind the wheel, reasonable suspicion for the initially lawful stop evaporated, and the sergeant's failure to immediately release Smith improperly extended the duration of the seizure; and (2) the sergeant conducted an unlawful search in violation of the Fourth Amendment by opening the passenger door without consent or probable cause. The court of appeals declined to decide the case on the merits; instead, it determined the State's response to Smith's arguments on appeal were too cursory to warrant a review on the merits. The court of appeals vacated Smith's conviction and remanded the case to the circuit court ordering it to grant Smith's suppression motion; it sua sponte ordered that Smith be allowed to withdraw his plea. State v. Smith, No. 2015AP756-CR, unpublished slip op., ¶1 (WiS.Ct. App. Sept. 29, 2016) (per curiam). We granted the State's petition for review.

         II. STANDARD OF REVIEW & APPLICABLE LAW

         ¶9 A suppression issue presents a question of constitutional fact. See State v. Floyd, 2017 WI 78, ¶11, 377 Wis.2d 394, 898 N.W.2d 560');">898 N.W.2d 560. "We review the circuit court's findings of historical fact under the clearly erroneous standard. But the circuit court's application of the historical facts to constitutional principles is a question of law we review independently." Id. (internal citations omitted).

         ¶10 The reasonableness of a traffic stop involves a two-part inquiry: first, whether the initial seizure was justified and, second, whether subsequent police conduct "was reasonably related in scope to the circumstances that justified" the initial interference. See Terry, 392 U.S. at 19-20; see United States v. Sharpe, 470 U.S. 675, 682 (1985) . The mission of a traffic stop includes "determining whether to issue a traffic ticket" and the ordinary inquiries incident to the stop. Rodriguez, 135 S.Ct. at 1615. As long as the initial stop was lawful, requesting identification is a permissible part of the dual mission of every traffic stop. Id. The ordinary inquiries portion of the traffic stop's mission includes "checking the driver's license, determining whether there are outstanding warrants against the driver, and inspecting the automobile's registration and proof of insurance."[9] Id.

         III. DISCUSSION

         A. Initial Stop and Ordinary Inquiries

         ¶11 Smith insists the circuit court should have suppressed the evidence that led to his seventh drunk-driving conviction because the officer unlawfully extended the duration of the seizure by continuing to question Smith after reasonable suspicion dematerialized. The State contends that because a traffic stop's mission includes the ordinary inquiries, such as checking a driver's license, an officer who lawfully stops a vehicle should be able to complete that mission even if the reason for the traffic stop ended during the officer's walk to the stopped vehicle.[10] The State is correct.

         ¶12 The United States Supreme Court recently reaffirmed that a police officer's "ordinary inquiries, " reasonably executed during a lawful traffic stop-including "checking the driver's license"-do not violate the Fourth Amendment because these "routine measures" are "fairly characterized as part of the officer's traffic mission." See Rodriguez, 135 S.Ct. at 1615. "Because the Fourth Amendment and Article I, § 11 provide substantively identical protections, we have historically interpreted this section of the Wisconsin Constitution in accordance with United States Supreme Court interpretations of the Fourth Amendment." State v. Asboth, 2017 WI 76, ¶11, 376 Wis.2d 644, 898 N.W.2d 541. Thus, we apply Rodriguez's interpretation of the Fourth Amendment.

         ¶13 There is no dispute that the initial seizure of Smith (the traffic stop) was justified.[11] Gonzalez had a legal basis to stop the car Smith was driving. Specifically, Gonzalez observed the driver of the car engage in suspicious activity in an area being watched for gang retaliation; these concerns prompted Gonzalez to run the license plate, which in turn came back registered to an owner who could not be legally driving. These facts provide reasonable suspicion sufficient to conduct a traffic stop. See State v. Newer, 2007 WI.App. 236, ¶¶5, 7, 306 Wis.2d 193, 742 N.W.2d 923 (reasonable suspicion exists to stop a vehicle if an officer has knowledge the owner of the vehicle has an invalid license); see also Floyd, 377 Wis.2d 394, ¶20 ("Reasonable suspicion that a driver is violating a traffic law is sufficient to initiate a traffic stop.") . Thus, part one of the two-part test we apply to determine whether a traffic stop was reasonable is satisfied. See Terry, 391 U.S. at 19-20.

         ¶14 We turn our attention to part two of the reasonableness test-whether subsequent police conduct "was reasonably related in scope to the circumstances that justified" the initial interference. After Sergeant Gonzalez stopped Smith, he approached the driver's door. Moments before reaching the door, Gonzalez was "pretty sure" the driver was a man and not Amber Smith, the woman identified as the registered owner, who could not legally drive her car because her license had been suspended. The State conceded that the reasonable suspicion underpinning the traffic stop dissipated at that moment.

         ¶15 But in these particular circumstances, does the Fourth Amendment require a police officer to freeze, do an about-face, and walk away? Such a reaction is neither practical nor required.[12] According to the Supreme Court, the Fourth Amendment does not compel such an about-face because the mission of any lawful traffic stop includes routine measures like checking a driver's license. See Rodriguez, 135 S.Ct. at 1615 (the mission of a lawful traffic stop includes both "determining whether to issue a traffic ticket" and conducting the ordinary inquiries) .

         ¶16 Before applying Rodriguez to the particular circumstances in Smith's case, we first examine the conditions surrounding the Supreme Court's holding in Rodriguez. In its 2014-15 term, the Supreme Court had before it petitions for certiorari in two related cases: (1) Rodriguez v. United States, 135 S.Ct. 1609 (2015), where the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld Dennys Rodriguez's drug conviction arising from drugs discovered by a narcotics dog after all the business related to a traffic stop had been completed; and (2) People v. Cummings, 2014 IL 115769, ¶¶1-2, 6 N.E.3d 725 (hereinafter Cummings I), where the Illinois Supreme Court granted the defendant's motion to suppress evidence police discovered during a traffic stop. In Cummings I, an outstanding warrant for the registered owner of the vehicle, who was a woman, generated reasonable suspicion for the traffic stop. Cummings I, 6 N.E.3d 725, ¶5. As the officer approached the stopped vehicle, however, the officer saw the driver was a man, not a woman. Id., ¶7. All three levels of Illinois courts held that suppression was appropriate because reasonable suspicion for the lawful stop disappeared when the officer saw a man (not a woman) behind the wheel. Id., ¶¶8-9. The Illinois Supreme Court held that by asking the driver for identification, the officer "impermissibly extended the stop." Id., ¶26.

         ¶17 Rodriguez and Cummings are both Fourth Amendment cases involving traffic stops where defendants sought suppression of evidence based on arguments that police unlawfully extended the stop. Six days after the Supreme Court decided Rodriguez, it vacated the judgment in Cummings I, and "remanded to the Supreme Court of Illinois for further consideration in light of" Rodriguez. See Illinois v. Cummings, 135 S.Ct. 1892 (Mem) (Apr. 27, 2015).

         ¶18 On remand, the Illinois Supreme Court set forth the Supreme Court's conclusions in Rodriguez:

• A dog sniff that prolongs a stop in an attempt to detect evidence of wrongdoing is "not part of the officer's 'mission' for the stop."
• "The Court defined the mission of the stop as 'to address the traffic violation that warranted the stop' and to 'attend to related safety concerns.'"
• The mission's safety concerns permit officers to make "ordinary inquiries incident to [the traffic stop]."
• "Typically such inquiries involve checking the driver's license, determining whether there are outstanding warrants against the driver, and inspecting the automobile's registration and proof of insurance."
• Actions outside the mission of the stop that "measurably extend the duration of the stop" "cause the stop to become unlawful" unless reasonable suspicion supports the extension.
• The Court drew a bright line against extending a stop "with inquiries outside the mission of a traffic stop" absent reasonable suspicion for the outside inquiries.
• The Court precisely defined what inquiries are part of the traffic stop and what inquiries fall outside the mission of a traffic stop.

See Cummings, 2016 IL 115769, ¶7, 46 N.E.3d 248 (hereinafter Cummings II) (citations omitted). Based on the directives of Rodriguez, the Illinois Supreme Court reversed its earlier determination that the stop in Cummings I violated the Fourth Amendment. Id., ¶13. Instead, it ruled a police officer may lawfully check a driver's license even though reasonable suspicion for the stop ended when the officer saw a man (not a woman) behind the wheel. Id. The Illinois Supreme Court held this did not render the seizure unreasonable because Rodriguez recognized the purpose of a traffic stop includes the "ordinary inquiries" of checking a driver's license. Id. In other words, when a traffic stop is lawful at its inception, a police officer may complete the ordinary inquiries even if reasonable suspicion "vanished upon seeing the defendant" because the purpose of the stop is not concluded until the ordinary inquiries are completed. Id., ¶18. "Such ordinary inquiries are part of the stop's mission and do not prolong the stop, for fourth amendment purposes." Id.

         ¶19 When the Supreme Court vacated the judgment in Cummings I and remanded the case to the Illinois Supreme Court for further consideration in light of Rodriguez it signaled that "ordinary inquiries" remain reasonable for the duration of an otherwise lawful stop. The Illinois Supreme Court's interpretation of Rodriguez in Cummings II is correct. Rodriguez concludes that an officer's mission in conducting a traffic stop includes "whether to issue a traffic ticket" and the "ordinary inquiries incident to [the traffic stop]." Rodriguez, 135 S.Ct. at 1615. These include: "checking the driver's license, determining whether there are outstanding warrants against the driver, and inspecting the automobile's registration and proof of insurance." Id. The justification for the ordinary inquiries is two-fold: (1) these checks serve to enforce the traffic code by "ensuring that vehicles on the road are operated safely and responsibly"; and (2) for officer safety.13 Id. at 1615-16. The Supreme Court protected Fourth Amendment rights by emphasizing that a traffic stop's mission should not extend beyond the amount of time reasonably required to complete it, and an officer must proceed diligently, id. at 1616, thereby eliminating the potential for police to delay the ordinary inquiries to delve into unrelated and undiscovered criminal wrongdoing.

         ¶20 We return to the particular facts in Smith's case in light of Rodriguez's conclusion that the lawfully initiated traffic stop includes both considering whether to issue a ticket and conducting the ordinary inquiries. When Gonzalez saw the driver of the stopped car was a man, the first part of the mission ended. Gonzalez would not be issuing a ticket to Amber Smith for driving with a suspended license. The second mission of the traffic stop, however, had not been performed-checking the driver's license, registration, and insurance. To accomplish this, Gonzalez followed his normal practice where a driver's door does not work and walked around to the passenger side of the car. Smith concedes he was moving over to the passenger side and reaching for a handle on the passenger door. He even explained this is a movement he makes every time he has to get in and out of the car. In fact, unless Smith planned to sleep in the car, it is logical that Smith would get out of the car because he had pulled into a parking spot in the lot where his residence is located. Gonzalez thought Smith was struggling to open the passenger door so he put his hand on the outside door handle and pulled the door open. Upon opening the door, Gonzalez learned Smith did not have a valid driver's license either. It is at this point Gonzalez suspected Smith had been driving drunk.

         ¶21 Thus, applying the directives from Rodriguez, we hold the stop in Smith's case did not violate the Fourth Amendment. The mission of the lawful traffic stop did not end when reasonable suspicion dissipated because at that moment, the sergeant had not completed the ordinary inquiries of checking Smith's license, registration, and insurance. Before Gonzalez could complete the ordinary inquiries incident to the stop, he discovered Smith did not have a valid driver's license and saw signs Smith had been driving drunk. At this point, the sergeant had probable cause to extend the stop to investigate and eventually arrest Smith for drunk driving.

         ¶22 In addition, the record shows Gonzalez acted promptly in his attempt to accomplish the mission of this traffic stop; there is nothing to suggest Gonzalez slothed through the mission to fish for wrongdoing. We emphasize, as did the Rodriguez Court, that "[a]uthority for the seizure thus ends when tasks tied to the traffic infraction are-or reasonably should have been-completed." Rodriguez, 135 S.Ct. at 1614. Police actions in all traffic stops will be scrutinized to ensure a temporary detention "last[s] no longer than is necessary to effectuate the purpose of the stop." Sharpe, 470 U.S. at 684; Rodriguez, 135 S.Ct. at 1614. Neither the Fourth Amendment nor the cases interpreting it require this traffic stop seizure to end at the moment Gonzalez saw a man instead of a woman in the driver's seat. The Fourth Amendment presented no bar to Gonzalez taking the minimally intrusive, routine measure of checking the identification of the driver. Because Gonzalez did so in a reasonable manner and within a reasonable amount of time, Smith's stop was not unlawfully prolonged. See Rodriguez, 135 S.Ct. at 1615; see also, State v. House, 2013 WI.App. 111, ¶¶6, 9, 350 Wis.2d 478, 837 N.W.2d 645 (concluding the purpose of traffic stop ended when "everything related to the initial stop" had been completed including running a check on defendant's license and returning license to the defendant); State v. Gammons, 2001 WI.App. 36, 241 Wis.2d 296, 625 N.W.2d 623 (holding the purpose of the traffic stop had concluded after the reason for the initial seizure had been satisfied, the driver and the two passengers had provided identification, and the officer had run computer checks on all three).

         ¶23 Our conclusion that this traffic stop comports with the Fourth Amendment is further supported by existing Wisconsin case law. Before the United States Supreme Court decided Rodriguez, our court of appeals already decided that when "the initial detention was lawful" an officer can properly ask for a driver's name and identification card even when the officer "had already decided" the driver "was not the suspect." See State v. Williams, 2002 WI.App. 306, ¶1, 258 Wis.2d 395, 655 N.W.2d 462. In Williams, a police officer stopped a vehicle thinking the driver was a wanted domestic abuse suspect named Demetrius Phillips. Id., ¶¶2-3. The driver told the officer his name was Vernell Williams, but he did not have any identification to prove his identity. Id. The officer called another officer who knew a lot of people in the neighborhood to see if Williams' identity could be verified. Id., ¶4. The second officer confirmed that Williams was who he said he was. Id. At this point, the police knew the driver was not the domestic abuse suspect, but they had the dispatcher run his name and birthdate anyway and found Williams did not have a valid driver's license. Id. Further investigation led to the discovery of cocaine in the car and Williams filed a motion to suppress the evidence. Id., ¶¶4-5, 8. The court of appeals concluded the officer's actions were lawful because the request for the driver's name and identification was reasonable, even if the request came after the officer realized the driver was not the suspect the officer sought.[14] Id., ¶18. The court of appeals further held that when "Williams stated that he had no identification, there was a reasonable ground for further detention, " id., ¶22, based on Wis.Stat. § 343.18(1)'s requirement that persons operating motor vehicles must have their driver's licenses with them.[15]These routine measures are reasonable because they ensure the driver has a valid license and they document the driver's identity in case there is a complaint after the stop.

         ¶24 Smith distinguishes his case from Rodriguez because reasonable suspicion for the traffic stop in that case continued for the duration of the stop, whereas here, the State conceded that reasonable suspicion dissipated as Sergeant Gonzalez approached Smith's car. We need not guess whether the Supreme Court would rule differently if faced with a case where reasonable suspicion dissipated after a lawful stop but before the ordinary inquiries could take place. The Supreme Court in fact had that very case before it-Cummings I-concomitantly with Rodriguez and although the Court never issued an opinion, its procedural actions signal that the Fourth Amendment does not compel an officer to prematurely terminate a lawful stop by dispensing with the ordinary inquiries.

         ¶25 First, Rodriguez does not specifically limit its holding to a lawful stop where reasonable suspicion does not dissipate. Given that the Supreme Court had before it both Rodriguez-a case where reasonable suspicion remained until the ordinary inquiries had been completed, and Cummings-a case where reasonable suspicion vanished before the ordinary inquiries could be made, the Supreme Court most certainly would have pointed out this distinction if the Court determined it commands opposite Fourth Amendment outcomes.

         ¶26 Second, six days after deciding Rodriguez, the Supreme Court vacated the judgment in Cummings I and told the Illinois Supreme Court to reconsider its ruling. See Illinois v. Cummings, 135 S.Ct. 1892 (Mem) (2015) . Again, the Illinois Supreme Court initially ruled in favor of the defendant in Cummings I, holding that the police officer could not ask to see his driver's license after reasonable suspicion vanished. See Cummings I, 6 N.E.3d 725, ¶20. It is not logical or reasonable for the Supreme Court to have vacated Cummings I if it believed the Illinois Supreme Court reached the correct result. There would be no reason to make the Illinois Supreme Court redo its decision if the Supreme Court believed the law prohibits a license check when reasonable suspicion dissipates before the officer speaks with the driver. That is what the Illinois Supreme Court had already ruled. If the Supreme Court wanted to limit the ordinary inquiries only to cases where reasonable suspicion remained until those routine procedures were completed, presumably the Court would have simply let the Illinois Supreme Court ruling in Cummings I stand. If the disappearance of reasonable suspicion extinguished an officer's ability to proceed with ordinary inquiries, logically the Supreme Court would have said so either in Rodriguez itself or by writing an opinion in Cummings I.

         ¶27 Third, the Illinois Supreme Court's analysis in Cummings II upon remand from the Supreme Court is sound. That court certainly could have distinguished Cummings from Rodriguez based on the vanishing reasonable suspicion factor, but did not. A unanimous court interpreted Rodriguez and the Supreme Court's granting, vacating, and remanding in Cummings I to mean a police officer who lawfully stops a vehicle may engage in the ordinary inquiries even if the reasonable suspicion initiating the stop dissipates.

         ¶28 Fourth, our court of appeals recently interpreted Rodriguez in the same way the Illinois Supreme Court did. In State v. Cotter, No. 2015AP1916-CR, unpublished slip op. (WiS.Ct. App. Aug. 25, 2016) (per curiam) a police officer stopped a car based on information that the registered owner (a woman) had a non-valid license.[16] Id., ¶¶7, 9. The driver of the car, however, turned out to be a man, not a woman. Id., ¶9. One of the car's passengers, Charles Cotter, challenged his narcotic drug conviction resulting from the discovery of heroin on his person during a pat-down search. Id., ¶¶10-14. Cotter argued this evidence should have been suppressed because once the officer saw the driver was a man, and not the woman with the invalid license, the officer no longer had any valid reason to extend the stop. Id., ¶14. That case also involved a broken driver's-side window, resulting in the officer having to open the passenger door to speak with the occupants. Id., ¶10. Our court of appeals held that Rodriguez controlled and this stop did not violate the Fourth Amendment because (1) the police lawfully stopped the car based on the registered owner's invalid license; and (2) even though the officer "could not issue a ticket on the basis for which the stop was initiated" the officer could "continue the stop for purposes of completing routine matters such as gathering [the driver's] license information, making attendant observations in the process." Id., ¶18. The court of appeals concluded that the reasonable suspicion that developed while the ordinary inquiries occurred "provided a basis for the officers to extend the stop" and as a result, the discovery of heroin during Cotter's pat-down did not violate the Fourth Amendment. Id., ¶19. Cotter correctly points out that conducting the ordinary inquiries is not an extension of the stop; it is part of the mission of the stop itself. Discovering additional reasonable suspicion during the ordinary inquiries can lead to a legal basis upon which to extend the stop beyond the ordinary inquiries.

         ¶29 The three cases on which Smith heavily relies in advancing his contrary position, Delaware v. Prouse, 440 U.S. 648 (1979), Florida v. Royer, 460 U.S. 491 (1983), and State v. Coleman, 890 N.W.2d 284 (Iowa 2017), are either distinguishable or not controlling.

         ¶30 First, Smith argues Delaware v. Prouse shows Gonzalez's conduct violated his Fourth Amendment rights. Prouse held that random traffic stops simply to check a driver's license and registration absent any basis to stop the vehicle violated the Fourth Amendment. 440 U.S. at 650. But this is not what happened to Smith. Here, it is undisputed there was a lawful basis to stop the car Smith drove.

         ¶31 Second, Smith turns to Florida v. Royer for its holding that police may not detain a person for "longer than is necessary to effectuate the purpose of the stop, " and the "methods employed should be the least intrusive means reasonably available to verify or dispel the officer's suspicion in a short period of time." 460 U.S. at 500. Royer involved an airport traveler suspected of transporting narcotics in his suitcase. Id. at 493-94. After approaching the traveler and questioning him, undercover officers took him into a large closet with a desk and two chairs, where he was in essence under arrest. Id. at 494-97. Smith's situation, unlike Royer, involved a traffic stop based on reasonable suspicion. As already explained, Rodriguez tells us the purpose and scope of any lawful traffic stop includes both the officer's decision on whether to issue a ticket (which Gonzalez could not do because reasonable suspicion on that aspect dissipated), as well as the officer's completion of ordinary inquiries (which Gonzalez was attempting to do when he saw signs that Smith was driving drunk) . We are also not persuaded by Smith's assertion that Gonzalez violated Royer's requirement that an officer should use the "least intrusive means" in an investigative detention. Smith argues the least intrusive means here required Gonzalez to speak to Smith through the closed and inoperable window. Even if we could agree that requiring Gonzalez to shout through a closed window late at night constitutes the least intrusive means, it is unreasonable to expect Gonzalez to accomplish the ordinary inquiries through a closed window. Under Pennsylvania v. Mimms, 434 U.S. 106, 110 (1977), an officer may ask a driver to step out of the car during a traffic stop because "[e]stablishing a face-to-face confrontation diminishes the possibility, otherwise substantial, that the driver can make unobserved movements" which could threaten the officer's safety. A face-to-face confrontation is also necessary to accomplish the ordinary inquiries, as it would be difficult if not impossible to check a driver's license, registration, and insurance without having those documents in hand. Requiring Gonzalez to accomplish the ordinary inquiries in the dark through a closed window is illogical and unreasonable.

         ¶32 The third case Smith proffers to support his position is State v. Coleman, 890 N.W.2d 284 (Iowa 2017). Coleman is a post-Rodriguez case in which a sharply divided Iowa Supreme Court held, based on the Iowa Constitution, that an officer cannot conduct the ordinary inquiries if reasonable suspicion dispels after the initially lawful stop. Id. at 285. The majority in Coleman rejected Rodriguez's recitation of the long- established rule that ordinary inquiries are part of a lawful traffic stop as "dicta." Id. at 300. Three Iowa Supreme Court Justices dissented in Coleman, criticizing the majority for disregarding Rodriguez, for ignoring Iowa's statute that requires drivers to carry a driver's license and "display it upon an officer's request, " for overruling prior Iowa case law consistent with Rodriguez, and for concluding for the first time that the search and seizure provision in Iowa's Constitution provides greater protection than the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution. Id. at 301-05. We are not persuaded by Coleman for several reasons. First, we are not bound by Iowa law, particularly judicial interpretations of its own constitution. Second, it applies an untenably cramped interpretation of the holding in Rodriguez. Third, it ignores the clear message the Supreme Court conveyed in its handling of Cummings I, resulting in the Illinois Supreme Court's reversal. Notably, Coleman is the only post-Rodriguez case in the country to conclude that checking a driver's license during an initially lawful traffic stop constitutes an unreasonable seizure when reasonable suspicion for the stop evaporates as the officer approaches the stopped car.[17] We agree with the dissenters in Coleman in regarding an officer's request to see a driver's license during a traffic stop as "completely unobjectionable and, indeed, mundane" and therefore unquestionably constitutional. Id. At 302.[18]

         B. Opening of the Passenger Door

         ¶33 Smith also argues that opening the passenger door constituted a separate Fourth Amendment event requiring additional reasonable suspicion. We do not agree. Whether a search or seizure is reasonable depends upon the particular facts of each case, and what Gonzalez did under these facts was reasonable. See South Dakota v. Opperman, 428 U.S. 364, 375 (1976) (citation omitted) .[19] Gonzalez approached the driver's door and asked Smith to open the door or the window. Smith responded that both were broken. As Gonzalez walked around to the passenger door, Smith appeared to be cooperating and moving toward the passenger seat, and seemed to be trying to open the passenger door. The officer testified that Smith and he simultaneously opened the door and that they opened it together.[20] An officer may make reasonable inferences based on the facts drawn from his experience. Terry, 392 U.S. at 21-22. It was reasonable for Gonzalez to infer that Smith's movements indicated he was willingly opening (or attempting to open) the passenger door. The sergeant needed to communicate with and identify the driver whom he had stopped and there was no avenue to do that on the driver's side of the car due to the inoperable driver's window and door.

         ¶34 Smith offers New Jersey v. Woodson, 566 A.2d 550 ( N.J.Super.Ct.App.Div. 1989), in support of his argument that Gonzalez unreasonably opened the door. Smith's reliance on Woodson is misplaced. We are neither bound by New Jersey authority nor persuaded that it presents similar facts. In Woodson, police conducted a traffic stop and immediately opened the car door without making any attempt to speak with the driver. Id. at 551. The New Jersey court held this police conduct violated the Fourth Amendment. Id. at 552. Woodson's facts are clearly distinguishable from Smith's.

         ¶35 Finally, Gonzalez's act of opening the passenger door did not violate the Fourth Amendment because under all the facts and circumstances, the action was reasonable and this intrusion on Smith's personal liberty was an incremental, de minimus one. See Mimms, 434 U.S. at 109-11. Under Mimms, a police officer has the right to a face-to-face encounter with a driver during a lawful traffic stop. "[T]his additional intrusion can only be described as de minimus." Id. at 111.[21]

         IV. CONCLUSION

         ¶36 We acknowledge that the police are not infallible, and a police officer may intentionally or unintentionally infringe upon the constitutional rights of Wisconsin citizens. If that happens, it is the duty of this court to impose consequences for such violations. Terry, 392 U.S. at 12 ("[E]xcluding evidence seized in violation of the Fourth Amendment has been recognized as a principal mode of discouraging lawless police conduct."). Likewise, when the police abide by the rules and act reasonably, the Fourth Amendment is not violated and we must uphold convictions.

         ¶37 The Supreme Court's most recent pronouncement on the scope of constitutionally reasonable traffic stop seizures, Rodriguez v. United States, 135 S.Ct. 1609 (2015), requires upholding Smith's conviction. Rodriguez acknowledges that "ordinary inquiries" are part of the mission of every lawful and reasonably executed traffic stop. The mission of such stops is not completed until the police officer checks a driver's identification, even if reasonable suspicion for stopping the vehicle dissipates as the officer approaches the vehicle. Further, the officer's act ...


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