This opinion will be unpublished and

may not be cited except as provided by

Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (2000).






State of Minnesota,


Dean Edward Chadbourne,


Filed February 13, 2001


Stoneburner, Judge


Becker County District Court

File No. T700389



Mike Hatch, Attorney General, Suite 500, 525 Park Street, St. Paul, MN 55103; and


Karen Skoyles, Irvine, Briggs & Ramstad, P.A., Box 683 Detroit Lakes, MN 56502 (for respondent)


Paul Thorwaldsen, Jannelle R. Steger, Thorwaldsen, Beeson, Malmstrom, Sorum & Donehower, P.L.L.P., 1105 Highway 10 East, Box 1599, Detroit Lakes, MN 56502 (for appellant)



            Considered and decided by Stoneburner, Presiding Judge, Lansing, Judge, and Peterson, Judge.


U N P U B L I S H E D  O P I N I O N




Dean Edward Chadbourne appeals his conviction for driving a snowmobile while under the influence of alcohol, arguing that police did not have articulable suspicion to stop him.  Because the totality of the circumstances shows that the police had reasonable and articulable suspicion that Chadbourne was intoxicated, the stop was proper and we affirm.


            At approximately 8:30 P.M. on January 15, 2000, DNR Officer Traci Hanson was on patrol as a part of the snowmobile task force in Detroit Lakes.  Officer Hanson was in her patrol vehicle in the parking lot of a bar, talking with Detroit Lakes Police Officer Todd Glander, who was parked next to her.  Officer Glander had assisted the snowmobile task force the previous night.  A snowmobile trail passed through the parking lot approximately 30 yards in front of Officer Hanson.  Officer Hanson observed three snowmobiles come up the trail, pass her vehicle, and continue to a nearby road that intersected the snowmobile trail.

            The lead snowmobile, driven by appellant Dean Chadbourne, caught Officer Hanson’s attention when it hit a small bump in the trail.  According to Officer Hanson, Chadbourne “seemed to overreact to [the] small bump.”  Based on her experience, she suspected that Chadbourne might be intoxicated, although she did not stop Chadbourne at the time and did not base the eventual stop solely on that observation.

            As Officer Hanson watched, the trio of snowmobilers approached a ditch where the trail intersected the road.  Chadbourne and the second snowmobiler ascended the steep embankment of the ditch and waited for automobile traffic on the road to clear.[1]  The third snowmobiler remained at the bottom of the slope.  While waiting, the second snowmobile, which was roughly 12 to 18 inches to the side of and halfway behind Chadbourne, toppled over and rolled down the embankment into the ditch.  Chadbourne did not react to the accident.  Chadbourne testified that because he was looking left and right for traffic on the road, he was unaware of his companion’s accident.  Officer Hanson, however, believed that the second snowmobiler was within Chadbourne’s peripheral vision and thought his failure to notice the accident was a further indication of possible impairment.  Officer Hanson drove her truck down the snowmobile trail to assist the fallen snowmobiler.  Officer Glander drove to the accident site on the road that intersected with the trail.

            When Officer Hanson arrived, the third snowmobiler was attending to the fallen snowmobiler who had suffered a leg injury.  Officer Hanson approached the two snowmobilers and talked with them.  She observed that their eyes were bloodshot and watery.  She also noted that the injured snowmobiler’s speech was slurred.  Based on these observations, Officer Hanson suspected that the two snowmobilers were intoxicated.

            During this time, Chadbourne was still sitting at the top of the embankment waiting to cross the road.  Officer Hanson yelled to Officer Glander to stop Chadbourne.  Officer Hanson wanted to notify Chadbourne of the accident so that he did not drive off without his companions.  She was also suspicious that Chadbourne was intoxicated, because he was oblivious to the accident and his companions appeared intoxicated.

            Police later arrested Chadbourne for operating a snowmobile while intoxicated, in violation of Minn. Stat. § 169.121 (1998).[2]  Chadbourne made a motion to dismiss for lack of reasonable and articulable suspicion for the stop.  Following an omnibus hearing, the district court denied Chadbourne’s motion.  The case was submitted to the district court on stipulated facts pursuant to Minn. R. Crim. P. 26.01, subd. 3.  The district court found Chadbourne guilty and this appeal followed.



“When reviewing pretrial orders on motions to suppress evidence, we may independently review the facts and determine, as a matter of law, whether the district court erred in suppressing - or not suppressing - the evidence.”  State v. Harris, 590 N.W.2d 90, 98 (Minn. 1999) (citation omitted).  “In reviewing a district court’s determinations of the legality of a limited investigatory stop, we review questions of reasonable suspicion de novo.”  State v. Britton, 604 N.W.2d 84, 87 (Minn. 2000).  In doing so, we review findings of fact for clear error, giving “due weight to inferences drawn from those facts” by the district court.  State v. Lee, 585 N.W.2d 378, 383 (Minn. 1998) (quoting Ornelas v. United States, 517 U.S. 690, 699, 116 S. Ct. 1657, 1663 (1996)).

Limited stops to investigate suspected criminal activity are known as Terry stops.  See generally Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1, 88 S. Ct. 1868 (1968).  Terry and its progeny allow police to conduct limited stops to investigate suspected criminal activity where police can “point to specific and articulable facts which, taken together with rational inferences from those facts, reasonably warrant that intrusion.”  392 U.S. at 21, 88 S. Ct. at 1880.  An investigatory stop is valid if a police officer has a “particularized and objective basis for suspecting the particular person stopped of criminal activity.”  United States v. Cortez, 449 U.S. 411, 417-18, 101 S. Ct. 690, 695 (1981); see State v. Holmes, 569 N.W.2d 181, 185 (Minn. 1997) (recognizing that Terry allows police to temporarily stop persons on less than probable cause).  All that is required is that the stop not be the product of mere whim, caprice, or idle curiosity.  Marben v. State, Dept. of Pub. Safety, 294 N.W.2d 697, 699 (Minn. 1980); see State v. Claussen, 353 N.W.2d 688, 690 (Minn. App. 1984) (recognizing threshold required to stop vehicle to investigate possible wrongdoing is very low).  In determining the propriety of investigative stops, we review the events surrounding the stop and consider the totality of the circumstances.  See Cortez, 449 U.S. at 417, 101 S. Ct. at 695.  Recently, the United States Supreme Court reiterated that a police officer’s basis for reasonable and articulable suspicion should be viewed from a common-sense perspective.  See Illinois v. Wardlow, 528 U.S. 119, 125, 120 S. Ct. 673, 676 (2000) (“[T]he determination of reasonable suspicion must be based on commonsense judgments and inferences about human behavior.”).  Moreover, a trained officer may draw inferences and make deductions that might elude an untrained person.  State v. Cripps, 533 N.W.2d 388, 391 (Minn. 1995).

Here, Officer Hanson noted that Chadbourne overreacted to a slight bump in the trail when the trio of snowmobilers passed by her.  After witnessing one of the riders tumble down an embankment on her snowmobile, Officer Hanson rendered assistance where she observed indicia of intoxication in both of Chadbourne’s snowmobiling companions.  Officer Hanson also observed that Chadbourne was oblivious to the accident, even though in Officer Hanson’s opinion, it had occurred within his peripheral vision, which further aroused her suspicion.  Under the totality of the circumstances, Officer Hanson had a reasonable and articulable suspicion to believe that Chadbourne might have been operating his snowmobile while intoxicated.

Chadbourne argues the stop was not justified because he was not the snowmobiler involved in the accident and Officer Hanson had no basis for assuming that he and the other two snowmobilers were together.  The facts in the record persuade us that Officer Hanson drew a reasonable, common-sense inference that Chadbourne was with the other two snowmobilers when she saw all three of them traveling together.  The fact that Chadbourne himself was not involved in his companion’s accident does not compromise Officer Hanson’s particularized and objective bases supporting the stop.

Under the totality of the circumstances, Officer Hanson had a reasonable and articulable suspicion that Chadbourne was driving while under the influence.  The district court correctly denied the motion to suppress.




[1] The second snowmobiler was later determined to be Chadbourne’s wife.

[2] Minnesota’s DWI statute applies to the operation of snowmobiles.  See Minn. Stat. § 169.02, subd. 1 (2) (1998) (“[T]he provisions of sections 169.09 to 169.13 apply * * *  to any person who drives, operates, or is in physical control of a snowmobile on a snowmobile trail within this state.”).