Deputy properly administered drunken driving tests in snow

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Elvis Santana/

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — A state appellate judge rejected a drunken driver’s arguments Thursday that a deputy made him undergo field sobriety tests in a snow storm in violation of the U.S. Constitution.

According to court documents, a Portage County deputy stopped Sean Dugan of Pittsburgh in February 2019 after Dugan drove into a snowbank and drove the wrong way down a one-way street. Tests showed his blood alcohol concentration was 0.268%, more than three times the legal limit in Wisconsin. A judge found him guilty of first-offense operating with a prohibited blood alcohol concentration.

Dugan argued on appeal that it was snowing during the stop and he was wearing only a T-shirt and flannel shirt. He maintained that the deputy made him undergo field sobriety tests alongside the road in the snow. The deputy’s failure to move him somewhere warmer amounted to an unreasonable seizure under the Fourth Amendment, he maintained. He also argued that the snow may have affected his performance on the tests.

Michael Fitzpatrick, presiding judge of the 4th District Court of Appeals, ruled that the deputy was under no obligation to take Dugan somewhere warmer and there’s no evidence the weather affected the results of the tests.

Dugan’s attorney, Dennis Melowski, didn’t immediately respond to a message.