STATE OF MINNESOTA
IN COURT OF APPEALS
Danny Edward Yoraway, petitioner,
Commissioner of Public Safety,
Filed October 7, 2003
Gordon W. Shumaker, Judge
Carver County District Court
File No. CX02901
Richard L. Swanson, 1059 Stoughton Avenue, P.O. Box 85, Chaska, MN 55318 (for appellant)
Mike Hatch, Attorney General, Francis Green, III, Darren L. DeJong, Assistant Attorneys General, 1800 NCL Tower, 445 Minnesota Street, St. Paul, MN 55101-2134 (for respondent)
Considered and decided by Willis, Presiding Judge; Toussaint, Chief Judge; and Shumaker, Judge.
S Y L L A B U S
1. A police officer has authority to stop a vehicle when the illegal activity commences and the stop occurs completely out of the officer’s jurisdiction if the officer is acting within the course and scope of employment.
GORDON W. SHUMAKER, Judge
Appellant Danny Edward Yoraway challenges the district court’s order sustaining the revocation of his driver’s license under the implied-consent law, arguing that the arresting police officer had no authority to stop him when the alleged illegal driving occurred outside the officer’s territorial jurisdiction and when the factual basis for the stop rested solely on an informant’s observations.
The commissioner of public safety revoked appellant Danny Edward Yoraway’s driver’s license for driving while under the influence of alcohol. The district court sustained the revocation. Yoraway contends that the court erred because the stop that led to his arrest and conviction was illegal. The facts are undisputed.
On the evening of May 4, 2002, a private citizen, who identified himself by name, address, and telephone number, called Carver County 911 to report a motorist driving recklessly. The citizen stated that (1) he “just almost got run off the road by a red Acura Integra”; (2) the driver was 45 or 50; (3) there was a woman in the front seat; and (4) the driver was “driving like a maniac . . . weavin’ in and out on both sides of the road.” The citizen said the Acura was traveling west on Pioneer approaching the intersection of Audubon.
The 911 operator sent a radio dispatch for a squad to assist, indicating that a caller complained that “he almost got ran off the road and it also sounds like the suspect vehicle passed ‘em (inaudible) vehicles.” The dispatcher described the Acura and indicated that the driving conduct occurred in Chanhassen.
Chaska police officer Brady Juell heard the dispatcher say that the Acura was “passing in no passing zones and had forced a vehicle off the roadway.” Officer Juell drove his squad east until he saw the Acura and then he turned the squad around and stopped the car. Yoraway was the driver. The stop occurred outside the Chaska city limits and was based entirely on the citizen’s report as relayed by the 911 dispatcher. Officer Juell did not personally see Yoraway violate any laws before the stop.
Ultimately, a Carver County deputy sheriff arrived at the scene of the stop and arrested Yoraway for driving while under the influence of alcohol.
An on-duty police officer received a dispatch to investigate a vehicle that was being driven recklessly. The vehicle and the driving conduct were described by an identified informant. Based solely on the informant’s information, the officer stopped the vehicle outside his territorial jurisdiction.
1. Did the district court err in concluding that the officer was acting within the scope and course of his employment and therefore could validly stop a vehicle outside the officer’s territorial jurisdiction?
2. Did the district court err when it concluded that the officer could make a valid stop when the officer personally observed no illegality but relied entirely on an identified informant’s description of illegal driving conduct?
Yoraway does not dispute the facts surrounding the stop of his car. Rather, he argues that the stop was improper because Officer Juell did not observe any illegal driving within his territorial jurisdiction and was not in fresh pursuit and because the informant’s report did not suggest alcohol-impaired driving. Thus, Yoraway raises solely a legal question as to the officer’s jurisdictional authority to make the stop. “Legal questions are reviewed de novo.” Nordvick v. Comm’r of Pub. Safety, 610 N.W.2d 659, 662 (Minn. App. 2000). Furthermore, when the facts are not in dispute, we review the validity of a traffic stop as a question of law. Berge v. Comm’r of Pub. Safety,374 N.W.2d 730, 732 (Minn. 1985).
Because Officer Juell had authority to make a stop outside of his jurisdiction when he was acting within the course and scope of his employment and he also had reasonable, articulable suspicion to make the traffic stop based on the identified informant’s tip establishing illegal activity, we affirm the district court.