Words and phrases defined. 346.01(1)
Words and phrases defined in s. 340.01
are used in the same sense in this chapter unless a different definition is specifically provided.
In this chapter, in addition to the meaning given in s. 340.01 (22)
, "highway" includes a private road or driveway that is subject to an agreement for traffic regulation enforcement under s. 349.03 (5)
In this chapter, notwithstanding s. 340.01 (42)
, "owner" means, with respect to a vehicle that is registered, or is required to be registered, by a lessee of the vehicle under ch. 341
, the lessee of the vehicle for purposes of vehicle owner liability under ss. 346.175
, 346.505 (3)
, and 346.945
Applicability of chapter. 346.02(1)
Applies primarily upon highways.
This chapter applies exclusively upon highways except as otherwise expressly provided in this chapter.
(2) Applicability to persons riding or driving animals or propelling push carts.
Every person riding an animal or driving any animal-drawn vehicle or propelling any push cart upon a roadway is granted all the rights and is subject to all the duties which this chapter grants or applies to the operator of a vehicle, except those provisions of this chapter which by their very nature would have no application.
(4) Applicability to persons riding bicycles and motor bicycles. 346.02(4)(a)(a)
Subject to the special provisions applicable to bicycles, every person riding a bicycle upon a roadway or shoulder of a highway is granted all the rights and is subject to all the duties which this chapter grants or applies to the operator of a vehicle, except those provisions which by their express terms apply only to motor vehicles or which by their very nature would have no application to bicycles. For purposes of this chapter, provisions which apply to bicycles also apply to motor bicycles, except as otherwise expressly provided.
(5) Applicability to public officers and employees.
The provisions of this chapter applicable to operators of vehicles apply also to operators of vehicles owned by or operated by or for any governmental agency, including the United States government, subject to the specific exceptions set forth in this section and ss. 346.03
and 346.215 (2)
(6) Applicability to persons working on highways.
This chapter applies to persons, teams, motor vehicles and road machinery while traveling to or from highway construction or maintenance work but the provisions of ss. 346.05 (3)
, 346.29 (2)
do not apply to persons, teams, motor vehicles or road machinery when actually engaged in maintenance or construction work upon a highway.
(7) Applicability of provisions requiring signposting.
No provision of this chapter for which signs are required shall be enforced against an alleged violator if at the time and place of the alleged violation an official sign is not in proper position and sufficiently legible to be seen by an ordinarily observant person. Whenever a particular section does not state that signs are required, such section is effective even though no signs are erected or in place.
(8) Applicability to pedestrian ways. 346.02(8)(a)(a)
All of the applicable provisions of this chapter pertaining to highways, streets, alleys, roadways and sidewalks also apply to pedestrian ways. A pedestrian way means a walk designated for the use of pedestrian travel.
Public utilities may be installed either above or below a pedestrian way, and assessments may be made therefor as if such pedestrian way were a highway, street, alley, roadway or sidewalk.
(9) Applicability to urban mass transit systems.
Every person operating an urban mass transportation vehicle or using related facilities is granted all the rights and is subject to all the duties which this chapter grants or applies to such persons, except those provisions of this chapter which by their very nature would have no application.
(10) Applicability to snowmobiles.
The operator of a snowmobile upon a roadway shall in addition to the provisions of ch. 350
be subject to ss. 346.04
, 346.14 (1)
, 346.215 (3)
, 346.50 (1) (b)
, 346.92 (1)
and 346.94 (1)
(11) Applicability to all-terrain vehicles and utility terrain vehicles.
The operator of an all-terrain vehicle or a utility terrain vehicle on a roadway is subject to ss. 346.04
, 346.14 (1)
, 346.215 (3)
, 346.50 (1) (b)
, 346.92 (1)
and 346.94 (1)
but is not subject to any other provision of this chapter.
(12) Applicability to electric personal assistive mobility devices.
An electric personal assistive mobility device shall be considered a vehicle for purposes of ss. 346.04
, 346.215 (3)
, 346.65 (5m)
, and 346.94 (4)
, and (10)
, except those provisions which by their express terms apply only to motor vehicles or which by their very nature would have no application to electric personal assistive mobility devices.
State, county, and tribal jurisdiction to regulate traffic on streets in housing projects that have been built and are maintained by the Winnebago Tribe on tribal lands is discussed. 78 Atty. Gen. 122
Applicability of rules of the road to authorized emergency vehicles. 346.03(1)(1)
The operator of an authorized emergency vehicle, when responding to an emergency call or when in the pursuit of an actual or suspected violator of the law, when responding to but not upon returning from a fire alarm, when transporting an organ for human transplantation, or when transporting medical personnel for the purpose of performing human organ harvesting or transplantation immediately after the transportation, may exercise the privileges set forth in this section, but subject to the conditions stated in subs. (2)
The operator of an authorized emergency vehicle may:
Stop, stand or park, irrespective of the provisions of this chapter;
Proceed past a red or stop signal or stop sign, but only after slowing down as may be necessary for safe operation;
Disregard regulations governing direction of movement or turning in specified directions.
Notwithstanding s. 346.94 (20)
, a law enforcement officer, a fire fighter, or emergency medical personnel may open and leave open any door of an authorized emergency vehicle when the vehicle is stopped, standing, or parked and the person is performing official duties.
The exemption granted the operator of an authorized emergency vehicle by sub. (2) (a)
applies only when the operator of the vehicle is giving visual signal by means of at least one flashing, oscillating or rotating red light except that the visual signal given by a police vehicle may be by means of a blue light and a red light which are flashing, oscillating or rotating, except as otherwise provided in sub. (4m)
. The exemptions granted by sub. (2) (b)
apply only when the operator of the emergency vehicle is giving both such visual signal and also an audible signal by means of a siren or exhaust whistle, except as otherwise provided in sub. (4)
Except as provided in sub. (4m)
, a law enforcement officer operating a police vehicle shall otherwise comply with the requirements of sub. (3)
relative to the giving of audible and visual signals but may exceed the speed limit without giving audible and visual signal under the following circumstances:
If the officer is obtaining evidence of a speed violation.
If the officer is responding to a call which the officer reasonably believes involves a felony in progress and the officer reasonably believes any of the following:
Knowledge of the officer's presence may endanger the safety of a victim or other person.
Knowledge of the officer's presence may cause the suspected violator to evade apprehension.
Knowledge of the officer's presence may cause the suspected violator to destroy evidence of a suspected felony or may otherwise result in the loss of evidence of a suspected felony.
Knowledge of the officer's presence may cause the suspected violator to cease the commission of a suspected felony before the officer obtains sufficient evidence to establish grounds for arrest.
A law enforcement officer operating a police vehicle that is a bicycle is not required to comply with the requirements of sub. (3)
relative to the giving of audible and visual signals.
The exemptions granted the operator of an authorized emergency vehicle by this section do not relieve such operator from the duty to drive or ride with due regard under the circumstances for the safety of all persons nor do they protect such operator from the consequences of his or her reckless disregard for the safety of others.
The privileges granted under this section apply to the operator of an authorized emergency vehicle under s. 340.01 (3) (dg)
only if the operator has successfully completed a safety and training course in emergency vehicle operation that is taken at a technical college under ch. 38
or that is approved by the department and only if the vehicle being operated is plainly marked, in a manner prescribed by the department, to identify it as an authorized emergency vehicle under s. 340.01 (3) (dg)
Every law enforcement agency that uses authorized emergency vehicles shall provide written guidelines for its officers and employees regarding exceeding speed limits under the circumstances specified in sub. (4)
and when otherwise in pursuit of actual or suspected violators. The guidelines shall consider, among other factors, road conditions, density of population, severity of crime and necessity of pursuit by vehicle. The guidelines are not subject to requirements for rules under ch. 227
. Each law enforcement agency shall review its written guidelines by June 30 of each even-numbered year and, if considered appropriate by the law enforcement agency, shall revise those guidelines.
Sub. (5) limits the exercise of privileges granted by sub. (2). City of Madison v. Polenska, 143 Wis. 2d 525
, 421 N.W.2d 862
(Ct. App. 1988).
An officer who decides to engage in pursuit is immune from liability for the decision under s. 893.80, but may be subject to liability under sub. (5) for negligently operating a motor vehicle during the chase. A city that has adopted a policy that complies with sub. (6) is immune from liability for injuries resulting from high speed chases. A policy that considered the severity of the crime only in terms of when to strike a vehicle or use road blocks did not comply with sub. (6). Estate of Cavanaugh v. Andrade, 202 Wis. 2d 290
, 550 N.W.2d 103
In order to comply with this section and lawfully proceed through a red stop signal, an authorized emergency vehicle must slow down as may be necessary for safe operation, have given both a visual and an audible signal, and have proceeded with due regard under the circumstances for the safety of all persons. Brown v. Acuity, A Mutual Insurance Company, 2013 WI 60
, 348 Wis. 2d 603
, 833N.W.2d 96, 11-0583
Reading compliance with subs. (2) (b) and (3) as meeting the due regard standard of sub. (5) ignores the language of sub. (5). Sub. (5) explicitly states that the duty of due regard exists notwithstanding the other exemptions or privileges in this section. The duty of "due regard under the circumstances" is a ministerial duty for purposes of determining immunity under s. 893.80. Legue v. City of Racine, 2014 WI 92
, ___ Wis. 2d ___, ___ N.W.2d ___, 12-2499
A private ambulance that is an authorized emergency vehicle usually kept in a given county pursuant to s. 340.01 (3) (i) may not avail itself of the provisions of sub. (2) when proceeding unsolicited to the scene of an accident or medical emergency in an adjacent county. 77 Atty. Gen. 214
A claim of excessive force in the course of making a seizure of the person is properly analyzed under the 4th amendment's objective reasonableness standard. A police officer's attempt to terminate a dangerous high-speed car chase that threatens the lives of innocent bystanders does not violate the 4th amendment, even when it places the fleeing motorist at risk of serious injury or death. Scott v. Harris, 550 U.S. 372
, 127 S. Ct. 1769
, 167 L. Ed. 2d 686
Police civil liability and the law of high speed pursuit. Zevitz. 70 MLR 237 (1987).
Obedience to traffic officers, signs and signals; fleeing from officer. 346.04(1)
No person shall fail or refuse to comply with any lawful order, signal or direction of a traffic officer.
No operator of a vehicle shall disobey the instructions of any official traffic sign or signal unless otherwise directed by a traffic officer.
No operator of a vehicle, after having received a visible or audible signal to stop his or her vehicle from a traffic officer or marked police vehicle, shall knowingly resist the traffic officer by failing to stop his or her vehicle as promptly as safety reasonably permits.
No operator of a vehicle, after having received a visual or audible signal from a traffic officer, or marked police vehicle, shall knowingly flee or attempt to elude any traffic officer by willful or wanton disregard of such signal so as to interfere with or endanger the operation of the police vehicle, or the traffic officer or other vehicles or pedestrians, nor shall the operator increase the speed of the operator's vehicle or extinguish the lights of the vehicle in an attempt to elude or flee.
(4) Subsection (2t)
is not an included offense of sub. (3)
, but a person may not be convicted of violating both subs. (2t)
for acts arising out of the same incident or occurrence.
History: 1991 a. 316
; 2001 a. 109
That an officer was driving a vehicle equipped with red lights and siren was insufficient to prove that vehicle was "marked" under sub. (3). State v. Oppermann, 156 Wis. 2d 241
, 456 N.W.2d 625
(Ct. App. 1990).
The knowledge requirement in sub. (3) applies only to fleeing or attempting to elude an officer. The statute does not require the operator of a fleeing vehicle to actually interfere with or endanger identifiable vehicles or persons; he or she need only drive in a manner that creates a risk or likelihood of that occurring. State v. Sterzinger, 2002 WI App 171
, 256 Wis. 2d 925
, 649 N.W.2d 677
In sub. (3), "willful" modifies "disregard." In that context, "willful" requires a subjective understanding by the defendant that a person known by the defendant to be a traffic officer has directed the defendant to take a particular action, and with that understanding, the defendant chose to act in contravention of the officer's direction. Either willful or wanton disregard is sufficient to result in a statutory violation. An act done "willfully" does not require a showing of personal hate or ill will. Sub. (3) does not provide a good faith exception to compliance. State v. Hanson, 2012 WI 4
, 338 Wis. 2d 243
, 808 N.W.2d 390
Under both the statute and the pattern jury instructions, there are 3 methods by which the statutory requirements under sub. (3) for knowingly fleeing or attempting to elude a traffic officer, can be satisfied: 1) by increasing the speed of the vehicle; 2) by extinguishing the lights of the vehicle, or 3) by willful or wanton disregard of the signal so as to interfere with or endanger the officer, vehicles, or pedestrians. State v. Beamon, 2013 WI 47
, 347 Wis. 2d 559
, 830 N.W.2d 681
An unmarked police vehicle displaying red and blue lights is not a marked vehicle for purposes of sub. (2). Section 346.19, regarding the requirements on the approach of an emergency vehicle, is the proper statute to invoke when the proof requirements for fleeing under this section are not met. 76 Atty. Gen. 214
DRIVING, MEETING, OVERTAKING AND PASSING
Vehicles to be driven on right side of roadway; exceptions. 346.05(1)(1)
Upon all roadways of sufficient width the operator of a vehicle shall drive on the right half of the roadway and in the right-hand lane of a 3-lane highway, except:
When making an approach for a left turn or U-turn under circumstances in which the rules relating to left turns or U-turns require driving on the left half of the roadway; or
When overtaking and passing under circumstances in which the rules relating to overtaking and passing permit or require driving on the left half of the roadway; or
When the right half of the roadway is closed to traffic while under construction or repair; or
When overtaking and passing pedestrians, animals or obstructions on the right half of the roadway; or
When driving in a particular lane in accordance with signs or markers designating such lane for traffic moving in a particular direction or at designated speeds; or
When the roadway has been designated and posted for one-way traffic, subject, however, to the rule stated in sub. (3)
relative to slow moving vehicles.
If the vehicle is a wide implement of husbandry, as defined in s. 347.24 (3) (a)
, being operated in compliance with any applicable requirement under s. 347.24 (3)
, 347.245 (1)
, or 347.25 (2g)
, and the vehicle is operated as much as practicable on the right half of the roadway and in the right-hand lane of a 3-lane highway, a portion of the vehicle may extend over the center of the roadway into any lane intended for travel in the opposite direction and may extend into any passing lane of a 3-lane highway. A wide implement of husbandry operated as described in this paragraph is subject to any restriction under ss. 346.06
, 346.09 (2)
, and 346.59
Notwithstanding sub. (1)
, any person operating a bicycle or electric personal assistive mobility device may ride on the shoulder of a highway unless such riding is prohibited by the authority in charge of the maintenance of the highway.
The operator of a vehicle actually engaged in constructing or maintaining the highway may operate on the left-hand side of the highway; however, whenever such operation takes place during the hours of darkness the vehicle shall be lighted as required by s. 347.23
Any vehicle proceeding upon a roadway at less than the normal speed of traffic at the time and place and under the conditions then existing shall be driven in the right-hand lane then available for traffic, or as close as practicable to the right-hand edge or curb of the roadway, except when overtaking and passing another vehicle proceeding in the same direction or when preparing for a left turn or U-turn at an intersection or a left turn into a private road or driveway, and except as provided in s. 346.072
See s. 346.59
for minimum speed regulation and duty of slow drivers.
Meeting of vehicles.
Operators of vehicles proceeding in opposite directions shall pass each other to the right, and upon roadways having width for not more than one line of traffic in each direction each operator shall give to the other at least one-half of the main traveled portion of the roadway as nearly as possible.
Overtaking and passing on the left.
The following rules govern the overtaking and passing of vehicles proceeding in the same direction, subject to those limitations, exceptions and special rules stated in ss. 346.075 (2)
The operator of a vehicle overtaking another vehicle proceeding in the same direction shall pass to the left thereof at a safe distance and shall not again drive to the right side of the roadway until safely clear of the overtaken vehicle.
Except when overtaking and passing on the right is permitted, the operator of an overtaken vehicle shall give way to the right in favor of the overtaking vehicle and shall not increase the speed of the vehicle until completely passed by the overtaking vehicle.
Passing stopped emergency or roadside service vehicles. 346.072(1g)(1g)
In this section, "emergency or roadside service vehicle" means any of the following:
An authorized emergency vehicle giving visual signal.