- Associated Press - Friday, April 8, 2016

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) - The Nebraska Supreme Court reinstated a man’s drunken driving conviction on Friday in a reversal of last year’s Nebraska Court of Appeals ruling that found his constitutional rights had been violated.

The high court rejected the Court of Appeals’ finding last July that a Wisner police officer was wrong to stop 27-year-old Adam Woldt to gather information about someone else’s possible criminal activity, and then use the stop to arrest Woldt for DUI.

The officer’s stop of Woldt was not unreasonable, the high court said, adding that the officer’s interest in protecting public safety outweighed his interference with Woldt’s individual liberty.

Woldt was driving his pickup behind another truck that an officer pulled over in September 2013 while investigating an act of vandalism, according to court records. Woldt testified that the truck and officer’s open car door was blocking his path, so he began backing up to take a different route. The officer then signaled Woldt to stop.

The officer testified that he wanted to ask Woldt if he had seen the other truck run over traffic cones, but smelled alcohol when he got to Woldt’s vehicle and began a DUI investigation. Woldt failed field sobriety tests and his blood alcohol content was measured at .148, which is nearly twice the legal driving limit.

Throughout his trial and appeal, Woldt argued that none of the evidence gathered after he was stopped should have been allowed because the officer had no suspicion of criminal activity when he stopped Woldt, meaning his constitutional right to be free of unreasonable search and seizure had been violated.

The appeals court sided with Woldt, and prosecutors appealed to the Nebraska Supreme Court.

The high court said previous court decisions favored prosecutor’s arguments.

Woldt’s attorney, Thomas Donner of West Point, said he believes Friday’s ruling could set a precedent that erodes the Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable search and seizure and is considering appealing through the federal courts.

“I’ll have to discuss that with my client,” Donner said. “Not too long ago, there was as a case that came up out of Nebraska … that went all the way up to the United States Supreme Court on a Fourth Amendment issue.”

Cuming County Attorney Dan Bracht did not immediately returned a phone message left Friday seeking comment.

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