CANTON TWP. (AP) – A Detroit-area man can be charged with drunken driving even though the police officer stopped the vehicle only after mistakenly believing the license plate didn’t match the pickup truck, the Michigan appeals court said Friday.
Canton Township Officer Craig Wilsher’s mistakes didn’t add up to reckless conduct and shouldn’t spoil the case, the court said in a 2-1 decision that overturned a lower court decision.
In a sharp dissent, Judge Elizabeth Gleicher said the appeals court has given police in Michigan even more authority to stop and search cars.
Wilsher said Jamie Wilmot’s truck got his attention because he believed a 2-inch trailer hitch ball was illegally obstructing the license plate. He stopped Wilmot after getting closer to the truck and entering the plate number into his computer.
The officer found the truck didn’t match the plate number, but he then discovered that he had punched in the wrong number. Nonetheless, Wilsher continued the stop, approached Wilmot and found he had been drinking.
There is no indication that the officer entered the wrong plate number “intentionally or in bad faith; the entry was not the result of misconduct,” judges William Murphy and Pat Donofrio said.
They said Wilsher still would have talked to Wilmot to explain the mistake and discovered that he had been drinking.
Wilmot’s attorney, Gary Russell, said the decision means any driver with a standard hitch ball on the bumper could be stopped by police.
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