Saturday, April 30, 2011

DUI Appeal - Wyoming Drunk Forklift Operator

In Harvey v. State of Wyoming, --- P.3d ----, 2011 WL 1533156 (Wyo.), 2011 WY 72, NCDD member Michael Vang appeared before the Supreme Court of Wyoming (for at least the 2d time in 1 year). Here, the defendant was driving a forklift at the speed of about 5 miles per hour on the shoulder of a highway. The issue on appeal was whether the highway patrolman had reasonable suspicion to contact Appellant for failure to equip his forklift with a slow moving vehicle emblem.

The driver did not dispute that he failed to display a slow moving vehicle emblem on the forklift while operating it on the highway. Rather, he argued that the failure to display such an emblem was not a violation of Wyo. Stat. Ann. § 31–5–921(d) and, accordingly, it did not provide the trooper with probable cause to initiate the traffic stop.

The court noted that the statute required “special mobile equipment designed for operation at speeds not in excess of twenty-five (25) miles per hour” to display a slow moving vehicle emblem, and then concluded that the statutory language therefore unambiguously included forklifts.

Thus, the court found that the officer had a valid basis to stop the vehicle for failing to display the emblem, and upheld the implied consent suspension.

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