This opinion will be unpublished and

may not be cited except as provided by

Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (1998).






Todd Allen Knox, petitioner,


Department of Public Safety,


Filed March 21, 2000


Crippen, Judge


Aitkin County District Court

File No. C099113



Robert M. Christensen, Gerald Miller & Associates, P.A., Suite 101, 210 North Second Street, Minneapolis, MN 55401-1414 (for appellant)


Mike Hatch, Attorney General, Sean R. McCarthy, Assistant Attorney General, Suite 500, 525 Park Street, St. Paul, MN 55103 (for respondent)


            Considered and decided by Crippen, Presiding Judge, Klaphake, Judge, and Shumaker, Judge.

U N P U B L I S H E D   O P I N I O N



            Appellant was arrested on an accusation of driving a snowmobile while intoxicated, and public safety officials subsequently revoked his driver’s license.  Seeking rescission of this revocation in these implied-consent proceedings, appellant disputes the trial court’s refusal to suppress evidence of field sobriety tests and statements made to the arresting officer, claiming he was subjected to an unconstitutional seizure.  We affirm.


            Aitkin County Sheriff’s Deputy Troy Fonde stopped two snowmobiles, and Department of Natural Resources Conservation Officer Carl Hadrits responded to a radio call for assistance with the stop.  It is undisputed in this case that this stop was lawful.

Hadrits approached two individuals, appellant and his brother, who were apparently the occupants of one of the snowmobiles.  Deputy Fonde advised him that appellant’s brother drove the snowmobile.  Hadrits questioned both individuals as to where they had been, and where they were going, and asked for their identification.  

            Shortly thereafter Officer Hadrits arrested appellant, having assembled evidence that appellant had driven the snowmobile and was under the influence of alcohol.  In a subsequent implied-consent proceeding, appellant proposed to the trial court that evidence obtained after the request for his identification should be excluded as the fruit of an unlawful seizure of his person.  Finding that the request for identification was a minimal intrusion after a lawful stop of the snowmobile, the trial court sustained the revocation of appellant’s driver’s license.


            Appellant contends he was seized when the officer asked him to identify himself, and that the seizure was unlawful because the officer did not have, at that time, any evidence that he had committed a crime.  The only evidence available to the officer at that time indicated that Trevor Knox, appellant’s brother, was the driver of the snowmobile.

            The case does not turn, as appellant suggests, on the question of whether there was a seizure when the officer asked appellant to identify himself.  Rather, the question of the case is whether the occupant of a snowmobile, even a passenger, once seized in a lawful stop, can be asked to furnish identification.  The issue can be resolved as a matter of law.  State v. Harris, 590 N.W.2d 90, 98 (Minn. 1999) (permitting independent review of a decision not to suppress evidence) (citing State v. Othoudt, 482 N.W.2d 218, 221 (Minn. 1992)).

It is not questioned here that the two snowmobiles and their occupants were lawfully stopped by Depute Fonde.  Appellant was seized when the snowmobile was stopped.  “[S]topping an automobile and detaining its occupants constitute[s] a ‘seizure.’”  Delaware v. Prouse, 440 U.S. 648, 653, 99 S. Ct. 1391, 1396 (1979). 

If they had already been lawfully stopped, there is no authority suggesting that the officer cannot, as part of this stop, without further cause, request that the occupants identify themselves.  See Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1, 30, 88 S. Ct. 1868, 1884 (treating “reasonable inquiries” as part of stop); cf. U.S. v. Ortiz, 422 U.S. 891, 895-96, 95 S. Ct. 2585, 2588 (1975) (identifying search for contraband as more intrusive than Terry stop and frisk, mandating a showing of probable cause to proceed without a warrant).  Appellant evidently would have us distinguish between the right to deal with a stopped driver and a stopped passenger, and we find no authority supporting that distinction or calling for us to more carefully determine whether appellant was detained as a driver or a passenger when Officer Hadrits asked him to identify himself.  See, e.g., State v. Eggersgluess, 483 N.W.2d 94, 96-97 (Minn. App. 1992) (applying the same requirement of specific, articulable suspicion that a person is armed and dangerous to justify a pat-down search of a passenger as would be employed to determine the propriety of a pat-down search of a driver).

Appellant already having been lawfully seized, the request for his driver’s license was lawful without further cause being established.