from judgments of the circuit court for Winnebago County No.
2017CF542: JOHN A. JORGENSEN, Judge. Affirmed.
Reilly, P.J., Gundrum and Hagedorn, JJ.
Mose Coffee appeals from judgments of conviction for
operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated (OWI), second
offense, and possession of THC with intent to deliver. He
asserts the circuit court erred in denying his motion to
suppress drug evidence found pursuant to a search of his
vehicle following his arrest for OWI. Specifically, he argues
the evidence should be suppressed "because there was no
reason to believe that evidence of the OWI arrest would be
found in the area of the vehicle searched by the
officers." We conclude the court did not err, and
The following relevant evidence was presented at the hearing
on Coffee's suppression motion.
During a traffic stop, Officer Timothy Skelton observed
Coffee to have slurred speech and "very glazed over and
bloodshot" eyes and detected the "strong odor"
of intoxicants emanating from either Coffee or his vehicle.
Following field sobriety tests, Coffee was arrested and
secured in the back of Skelton's squad car.
Skelton informed two other officers who arrived on the scene
as to the reason for Coffee's arrest-OWI-and asked them
to search the vehicle. One of these officers located a
tote-like bag on the floor behind the driver's seat. The
officer testified that the set up of the vehicle was such
that "anybody in the front could immediately access the
back because there's nothing blocking the front of the
car from the back of the car." Searching the bag, the
officer moved various items and eventually located two mason
jars containing what he believed, based on his experience, to
be flakes of marijuana. The bag also contained multiple cell
phones and a package with a large number of small, clear
plastic baggies. Following these discoveries, the officers
searched the trunk, finding more marijuana and drug
paraphernalia, which led to drug-related charges against
Coffee, in addition to an OWI charge.
Coffee moved to suppress all of the drug evidence on the
basis that he was originally arrested for OWI and it was not
reasonable for officers to believe OWI-related evidence would
be found near the bottom of the bag. The circuit court denied
the motion, and Coffee pled to a charge of OWI, second
offense, and possession of THC with intent to deliver. Coffee
The review of a circuit court's order granting or denying
a suppression motion presents a question of constitutional
fact. State v. Dearborn, 2010 WI 84, ¶13, 327
Wis.2d 252, 786 N.W.2d 97. We will uphold the court's
factual findings unless they are clearly erroneous, but we
independently apply constitutional principles to those facts.
State v. Robinson, 2010 WI 80, ¶22, 327 Wis.2d
302, 786 N.W.2d 463.
The Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution and
article 1, section 11 of the Wisconsin Constitution protect
against unreasonable searches. State v. Reed, 2018
WI 109, ¶52, 384 Wis.2d 469, 920 N.W.2d 56.
"[W]arrantless searches are per se unreasonable under
the Fourth Amendment, subject to a few carefully delineated
exceptions." State v. Sanders, 2008 WI 85,
¶27, 311 Wis.2d 257, 752 N.W.2d 713. One such exception
is the search of a vehicle incident to arrest "when it
is reasonable to believe that evidence of the offense of
arrest might be found in the vehicle." Arizona v.
Gant, 556 U.S. 332, 335 (2009). The State bears the
burden of proving such an exception applies. State v.
Denk, 2008 WI 130, ¶36, 315 Wis.2d 5, 758 N.W.2d
In contending the circuit court erred in denying his
suppression motion, Coffee argues
[a]lcohol, a legal substance, is generally consumed at home
or at a bar or ...