This opinion will be unpublished and
may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (2000).
STATE OF MINNESOTA
IN COURT OF APPEALS
Cory Joseph Schreifels,
Filed April 17, 2001
Kip O. Fontaine, Clearwater County Attorney, Jeanine R. Brand, Assistant County Attorney, 213 Main Avenue North, Department 301, Bagley, MN 56621 (for appellant)
Blair W. Nelson, 1421 Bemidji Avenue, Bemidji, MN 56601 (for respondent)
U N P U B L I S H E D O P I N I O N
SCHUMACHER, ROBERT H., Judge
Appellant State of Minnesota challenges the district court's pretrial order granting respondent Cory Joseph Schreifels's motion for suppression of evidence and dismissal of charges, claiming the court erred in applying the probable cause standard rather than the reasonable suspicion standard. We reverse.
On June 24, 2000, Schreifels was visiting the city of Clearbrook to play in a softball tournament. Clearwater County Deputy Sheriff Philip Juve was patrolling near the intersection of Second Avenue and Highway 92 at or about 8:45 p.m. in Clearbrook. Juve's vehicle was facing west at the stop sign on Second Avenue. He observed Schreifels' red Dodge pickup about one-half block away, traveling northbound on Highway 92. Juve estimated the pickup was traveling at 45 miles per hour, exceeding the posted speed limit of 30 miles per hour. Juve turned north on Highway 92 and stopped the vehicle. Juve noticed the odor of alcohol on Schreifels' breath and administered a preliminary breath test. Schreifels failed the breath test and two out of three field sobriety tests.
The state charged Schreifels with two counts of gross misdemeanor driving under the influence of alcohol and two counts of misdemeanor driving under the influence of alcohol. The district court granted Schreifels' motion for suppression of evidence and dismissal of charges based on lack of probable cause to stop his vehicle. The court made the following finding in the order for dismissal:
After hearing all of the testimony and reviewing all evidence in the premises, the Court finds that the officer lacked probable cause to stop the Defendant in this instance.
This court will reverse a district court's pretrial order suppressing evidence only if the state clearly and unequivocally demonstrates that the district court erred and that the error, unless reversed, will have a critical impact on the outcome of the prosecution. State v. Othoudt, 482 N.W.2d 218, 221 (Minn. 1992). Where the facts are not in dispute and the district court's decision is a question of law, this court may independently review the facts and determine, as a matter of law, whether the evidence must be suppressed. Id.
A police officer may make an investigatory stop of a vehicle if the officer has "specific and articulable facts" establishing "reasonable suspicion" of a motor vehicle violation or criminal activity. State v. Duesterhoeft, 311 N.W.2d 866, 867 (Minn. 1981) (citation omitted). "A brief investigatory stop requires only reasonable suspicion of criminal activity, rather than probable cause." State v. Pike, 551 N.W.2d 919, 921 (Minn. 1996) (citing Terry v. Ohio, 391 U.S. 1, 21-22, 88 S. Ct. 1868, 1880 (1968)). "[S]uspicion is all that is required, if the officer can sufficiently articulate the factual basis for his suspicion." Berge v. Commissioner of Pub. Safety, 374 N.W.2d 730, 733 (Minn. 1985). Because the reasonable suspicion standard is the correct standard to apply to a motor vehicle stop, the district court erred in applying the probable cause standard.
This court reviews reasonable suspicion determinations de novo. State v. Munson, 594 N.W.2d 128, 135 (Minn. 1999). A limited investigative stop is lawful if the state can show that the officer had a "particularized and objective basis for suspecting the particular person stopped of criminal activity." Pike, 551 N.W.2d at 921 (citation omitted). The factual basis required to support a stop is minimal, and is based on the totality of the circumstances. Knapp v. Commissioner of Pub. Safety, 610 N.W.2d 625, 628 (Minn. 2000). The police must only show that the stop was not the product of mere whim, caprice, or idle curiosity. Pike, 551 N.W.2d at 921.
Juve testified that he had daily experience estimating vehicle speeds and had attended a radar training class where he was trained to estimate speeds visually. Juve testified that it was 8:45 on a June evening and was still light out and that he was able to observe the vehicle for one-half block while he was stopped at the stop sign. Cf. Berge, 374 N.W.2d at 731 (finding stop lawful where officer viewing car from distance of one-half to three-fourths block believed on basis of his experience that vehicle did not come to complete stop). Juve stopped the vehicle based on his stated opinion that Schreifels was exceeding the posted speed limit.
The evidence shows that Juve had a reasonable, articulable suspicion of a speeding violation, providing a basis for stopping the vehicle. The district court erred in ordering the evidence suppressed and granting the motion to dismiss based on a lack of probable cause to stop the vehicle.