This opinion will be unpublished and
may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (1998).
STATE OF MINNESOTA
IN COURT OF APPEALS
In the Matter of the Welfare of:
Filed January 2, 2001
Lac qui Parle County District Court
File No. J29950127
John M. Stuart, State Public Defender, Lawrence Hammerling, Deputy State Public Defender, D. Adrian Bryan, Special Assistant State Public Defender, 2829 University Avenue S.E., Suite 600, Minneapolis, MN 55414 (for appellant B.M.B.)
Mike Hatch, Attorney General, 525 Park Street, Suite 500, St. Paul, MN 55103-2106; and
John M. Tollefson, Lac qui Parle County Attorney, P.O. Box 269, Dawson, MN 56232 (for respondent state)
Considered and decided by Willis, Presiding Judge, Forsberg,** Judge, and Holtan, Judge.
U N P U B L I S H E D O P I N I O N
Appellant challenges his juvenile delinquency adjudication for illegal possession of a handgun and DWI-related charges, contending that the officer did not have reasonable and articulable suspicion to stop his vehicle. We affirm.
A witness observed a vehicle being driven on the road in front of his driveway in a “crazy” manner, weaving in and out of its lane of traffic. He believed the vehicle was the same kind that appellant owned. A deputy saw indications on a gravel road that a vehicle had been swerving side to side and had been driven off the road several times. Upon investigating, he interviewed the witness and learned that he believed appellant owned the vehicle.
After leaving the witness’s home, the deputy heard a dispatch report that appellant, driving the same vehicle the witness reported as being driven erratically earlier, had caused some problems. Shortly thereafter, the deputy saw the suspect vehicle and stopped it. After observing that appellant exhibited indicia of intoxication and noticing beer in the vehicle, the deputy searched it and found a handgun and more beer.
The state filed a juvenile delinquency petition, alleging that appellant had been in illegal possession of a handgun and had violated several DWI-related laws. Appellant contended that all of the evidence gathered after the stop should have been suppressed because the stop was unlawful. The trial court found the stop lawful and adjudicated appellant as delinquent. This appeal followed.
D E C I S I O N
An appellate court will not reverse findings of fact unless clearly erroneous, but will review legal questions de novo. Berge v. Commissioner of Pub. Safety, 374 N.W.2d 730, 732 (Minn. 1985).
Officers may make a limited stop of a motor vehicle to investigate suspected criminal wrongdoing when they can “point to specific and articulable facts which, taken together with rational inferences from those facts, reasonably warrant that intrusion.” State v. Britton, 604 N.W.2d 84, 87 (Minn. 2000) (citation omitted). This reasonable suspicion may be based on information observed by a citizen informant. Marben v. State, Dep’t of Pub. Safety, 294 N.W.2d 697, 699 (Minn. 1980). But the stop may not be based on “mere whim, caprice or idle curiosity.” State v. Pike, 551 N.W.2d 919, 921 (Minn. 1996) (citation omitted). The court will consider the totality of the circumstances. Britton, 604 N.W.2d at 87.
Appellant contends that the stop was unlawful because the deputy did not observe any suspicious driving conduct and the dispatcher’s report was insufficient to support the stop. But the deputy had the additional facts to consider, including his observations as to the condition of the gravel road, his inferences therefrom, and a statement from a known witness who had observed the erratic driving and believed appellant had been the driver. See State v. Davis, 393 N.W.2d 179, 181 (Minn. 1986) (holding that brief, face-to-face report of traffic violation by unknown citizen informant justified stop). These undisputed facts provided the deputy with specific and articulable grounds from which he could reasonably conclude appellant had engaged in wrongdoing, justifying the stop.