This opinion will be unpublished and
may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. State § 480A.08, subd. 3 (2000).
STATE OF MINNESOTA
IN COURT OF APPEALS
State of Minnesota,
Robert Edward Greene,
Filed January 29, 2002
Hennepin County District Court
File No. 0093562
Mike Hatch, Attorney General, 525 Park Street, Suite 500, St. Paul, MN 55103; and
Laurel M. Hersey, Rolf A. Sponheim, City of Minnetonka, 14600 Minnetonka Boulevard, Minnetonka, MN 55435 (for respondent)
Stefan A. Tolin, 401 Second Avenue South, Suite 540, Minneapolis, MN 55401-2307 (for appellant)
Considered and decided by Hanson, Presiding Judge, Lansing, Judge, and Kalitowski, Judge.
On appeal from a conviction of gross misdemeanor DWI, appellant argues that the police lacked specific and articulable suspicion for the investigative stop because the stop was based solely on a tip from a private citizen informant and the police did not observe any improper driving conduct. Appellant also argues that the district court erred by relying on facts described in the informant’s omnibus-hearing testimony that had not been relayed to the arresting police officer before the stop. We affirm.
A private citizen informant called 911 to report a possibly intoxicated driver. The dispatcher relayed to a Minnetonka police officer the informant’s statement that he had observed a man in the Shady Oak Road McDonald’s parking lot, who was having difficulty standing, get into a car and drive away. The dispatcher also relayed (1) the informant’s name, date of birth, and cellular telephone number, (2) a description of the informant’s car and (3) a description (including the license plate number) of the car the man was driving. The dispatcher stated that the informant would follow the car until the police arrived.
Based on this information, the officer located the described car and followed it without observing any improper driving. The officer ultimately stopped appellant Robert Edward Greene, the driver of the car. The officer observed Greene stumble out of the car, heard him slur his speech, and noticed that Greene’s breath smelled of alcohol and that his eyes were watery and bloodshot. The officer asked Greene if he had been drinking. Greene admitted he had a “couple beers” and the officer asked him to take a breathalyzer test. Greene failed the test and was arrested for driving while intoxicated. He later was charged with three counts of gross misdemeanor driving while intoxicated, in violation of Minn. Stat. § 169.121, subds. 1(a), (d), (e), and 3(c)(2) (1998).
Greene waived his right to a jury trial and agreed to a trial on stipulated facts. He also moved to dismiss the charges, arguing that the police officer did not have specific and articulable suspicion for stopping him. At the omnibus hearing, the informant testified that, in addition to what the dispatcher relayed to the arresting officer, he told the dispatcher that he had also observed the man inside McDonald’s restaurant and the man appeared to be drunk, could hardly stand up, was swaying back and forth as he stood in line, was “glaring all over” and was behaving as though he did not know where he was.
The district court denied Greene’s motion to dismiss and found him guilty of all the charges. This appeal followed.
When appellate courts review district court determinations of the legality of limited investigatory stops, they review questions of reasonable suspicion de novo. State v. Britton, 604 N.W.2d 84, 87 (Minn. 2000); see also Jobe v. Comm’r of Pub. Safety, 609 N.W.2d 919, 921 (Minn. App. 2000) (stating that the validity of a stop presents a purely legal question).
Under Terry and its progeny, the police may
conduct limited stops to investigate suspected criminal activity when the police can “point to specific and articulable facts which, taken together with rational inferences from those facts, reasonably warrant that intrusion.”
Britton, 604 N.W.2d at 87 (quoting Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1, 21, 88 S. Ct. 1868, 1880 (1968)). The Terry standard applies to investigatory traffic stops. Marben v. State, Dep’t of Pub. Safety, 294 N.W.2d 697, 699 (Minn. 1980).
In forming specific and articulable suspicion, an officer may rely on the observations of another person, including an informant. Jobe, 609 N.W.2d at 921; Marben, 294 N.W.2d at 699. But the informant’s tip must contain sufficient “indicia of reliability” to justify a traffic stop. Jobe, 609 N.W.2d at 921 (quoting Olson v. Comm’r of Pub. Safety, 371 N.W.2d 552, 556 (Minn. 1985)). The basis of the stop is evaluated in light of the totality of the circumstances and the reliability of the informant’s information is judged
mainly on two factors: (1) identifying information given by the informant, and (2) the facts that support the informant’s assertion that a driver is under the influence.
Jobe, 609 N.W.2d at 921(citing City of Minnetonka v. Shepherd, 420 N.W.2d 887, 890‑91 (Minn. 1988) (examining both factors)).
This court begins its analysis with the presumption that tips from private citizen informants are reliable. See Marben, 294 N.W.2d at 699 (stating the presumption that private citizen-informant tips are reliable). Further, this court has in mind that, under the collective-knowledge doctrine, all information known to the police force (including a police dispatcher) is imputed to the arresting officer. See State v. Riley, 568 N.W.2d 518, 523 (Minn. 1997) (discussing the collective-knowledge doctrine); Olson, 371 N.W.2d at 555 (applying the collective-knowledge doctrine to information relayed through a dispatcher).
Greene relies in part on Olson, where the supreme court concluded that there were insufficient indicia of reliability for an investigatory traffic stop that was based solely on an anonymous tip about a “possibly * * * drunken driver.” Id. at 556.
Unlike Olson, the record before the district court shows that the informant identified himself and could have been held responsible for the tip. See Shepherd, 420 N.W.2d at 890 (upholding stop where the caller identified himself as an attendant of particular gas station); Playle v. Comm’r of Pub. Safety, 439 N.W.2d 747, 749 (Minn. App. 1989) (upholding stop where the circumstances indicated that the caller, who identified himself as an employee of Burger King, personally made the reported observations). Here, the police were not only given the informant’s name, cellular telephone number, date of birth, and car description, the informant also told the dispatcher he would follow the possibly intoxicated driver’s car and would be willing to provide a written statement. The identification information the informant gave the police before the stop is more complete then the information provided in Shepherd and Playle, and is clearly distinguishable from the anonymous tip in Olson. The identification information was sufficiently reliable to justify the stop.
Greene argues that identification of the informant is not enough and that either the arresting officer must independently observe improper driving or the information provided to the arresting officer from the dispatcher must show that the informant had an articulable and particularized suspicion that the reported driver was intoxicated. Greene stresses that the only observation the informant relayed to the arresting officer was that Greene was having difficulty standing in the parking lot. This, Greene suggests, was an unparticularized suspicion or hunch and was insufficient to justify the stop.
First, we do not find support for the premise, inherent in Greene’s argument, that the informant must necessarily communicate all the facts that support his conclusion that the driver is under the influence. In Shepherd, the supreme court suggested that where the informant is sufficiently identified, the court may assume that the informant’s conclusion that the driver is intoxicated “was based on personal observation of the driver himself.” Shepherd, 420 N.W.2d at 891.
Second, and likewise, we do not find support for the proposition that the only facts that can be considered as support for the informant’s conclusion are the facts relayed by the dispatcher to the arresting police officer. To the contrary, Olson specifically states that the test is
whether the dispatcher, who issued the message to the deputies, was in possession of specific and articulable facts supporting a reasonable suspicion that there was a drunk driver on the road.
Olson, 371 N.W.2d at 555 (emphasis added). This holding is fully supported by the collective-knowledge doctrine. Thus, the district court did not err in considering the omnibus-hearing testimony of the informant about the information that he provided to the dispatcher even though the dispatcher did not relay all of that information to the arresting officer. That information included continued observations of Greene inside McDonald’s and provides an ample basis for reasonable suspicion.
Third, we conclude that even the reduced information the dispatcher relayed to the arresting officer was sufficient to establish a basis for reasonable suspicion. The dispatcher told the police that the informant reported that a possibly intoxicated driver, who had difficulty standing, was leaving the McDonald’s parking lot, driving a vehicle that the informant described in detail, including the make, model, color, location, and license plate number. This information was more substantial and detailed than that found sufficient in Shepherd and Playle.
Because the citizen informant provided detailed identification information, and the observations described by the citizen informant to the dispatcher support his conclusion that Greene was under the influence, we hold that the stop was lawful and the district court did not err in denying Greene’s motion to dismiss.