This opinion will be unpublished and

may not be cited except as provided by

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






State of Minnesota,





Eric Wayne Turkowski,



Filed January 15, 2002


Willis, Judge


Stearns County District Court

File No. T400009809


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


Roger S. Van Heel, Stearns County Attorney, Will R. Brost, Assistant County Attorney, Administration Center, Room 448, 705 Courthouse Square, St. Cloud, MN  56303 (for respondent)


Todd V. Peterson, P.O. Box 2105, St. Cloud, MN  56302-2105 (for appellant)


            Considered and decided by Willis, Presiding Judge, Anderson, Judge, and Foley, Judge.*

U N P U B L I S H E D   O P I N I O N


            This appeal is from a judgment of conviction of boating while intoxicated, in violation of Minn. Stat. §§ 86B.331, subd. 1(c); 169A.20, subd. 1(5) (2000).  Appellant Eric Wayne Turkowski challenges his arrest by special water-patrol deputies.  Because we conclude that the deputies had probable cause to make a citizens’ arrest, we affirm.


            Turkowski was boating with two friends on Horseshoe Lake in Stearns County on the evening of June 10, 2000.  Two special water-patrol deputies employed by the sheriff’s department, who were patrolling the lake, saw Turkowski’s boat creating a visible wake in a no-wake zone.  The deputies concluded that the boat was violating the 5-miles-per-hour speed limit specified for the no-wake zone.

            The deputies pursued Turkowski’s boat, which entered another no-wake zone, where the deputies found it stopped under a bridge, with its motor tilted up in the water so that the propeller was spraying water in the air.  There were three men in the boat, watching the water hit the underside of the bridge.  The deputies considered this to be a violation of the no-wake zone, even though the boat was stopped.

            The deputies pulled alongside the boat and started talking with Turkowski.  They could smell a “very strong odor of alcohol” on Turkowski’s breath.  His speech was slurred, and his eyes were “red, glossed over.”  The deputies formed the opinion that Turkowski was “very, very intoxicated” and that his operation of the boat created a safety risk.  Therefore, they told him they were going to follow him to a nearby resort.  One of the deputies called the sheriff’s department and requested that a “road unit” be dispatched.

            When a sheriff’s deputy arrived, he also observed indicia of Turkowski’s intoxication and gave him a number of field sobriety tests, including a preliminary breath test, which Turkowski failed.  He then drove Turkowski to the Stearns County jail, where Turkowski agreed to take a breath test, which showed an alcohol concentration of .19.

            The district court denied Turkowski’s motion to suppress the evidence of intoxication, finding the testimony of the special water-patrol deputies to be credible and concluding that they had probable cause to make a citizens’ arrest.


Turkowski argues that the special water-patrol deputies lacked probable cause to arrest him.  In determining whether an arrest was supported by probable cause, this court independently reviews the facts to determine the reasonableness of the officer’s actions.  State v. Moorman, 505 N.W.2d 593, 599 (Minn. 1993).  This court accepts the district court’s findings of fact unless they are clearly erroneous.  See State v. Lee, 585 N.W.2d 378, 383 (Minn. 1998).

The state conceded at the omnibus hearing that the special water-patrol deputies were not licensed peace officers and therefore were acting as private citizens when they arrested Turkowski.  See State v. Horner, 617 N.W.2d 789, 794 (Minn. 2000).  Private citizens may arrest a person for a public offense committed in their presence, provided that they have probable cause to believe that the offense has been committed.  Id. at 795.  Turkowski argues that because the odor of alcohol could have come from any of the three men in Turkowski’s boat, because there could be other explanations for Turkowski’s bloodshot eyes and slurred speech, and because there was no evidence that the deputies had training in assessing indicia of intoxication, there was no probable cause to arrest Turkowski.  We disagree.

            Probable cause to believe a person is intoxicated, and therefore driving a vehicle or operating a boat illegally, may be based on a single, objective indication of intoxication.  Heuton v. Comm’r of Pub. Safety, 541 N.W.2d 361, 363 (Minn. App. 1995).  The special water-patrol deputies observed a number of the typical indicia of intoxication when they encountered Turkowski--a strong odor of alcohol on his breath, slurred speech, and reddened, glazed eyes.  See generally LaBeau v. Comm’r of Pub. Safety, 412 N.W.2d 777, 779 (Minn. App. 1987) (noting observed indicia of intoxication).  Although Turkowski suggests several possible innocent explanations for these indicia, the facts need not exclude all innocent explanations in order to provide probable cause.  State v. Hawkins, 622 N.W.2d 576, 580 (Minn. App. 2001).

            It is well-established that an ordinary citizen, or a lay witness, may give an opinion as to another person’s state of intoxication based on an observation of that person’s breath, walk, and speech.  Malik v. Johnson, 300 Minn. 252, 257, 219 N.W.2d 631, 635 (1974); see State v. Stokes, 354 N.W.2d 53, 57 (Minn. App. 1984) (holding that, with proper foundation, lay opinion testimony of intoxication is admissible).  Turkowski’s argument that, because they were not specially trained, the water-patrol deputies could not form an opinion about Turkowski’s state of intoxication is without merit.  There was ample probable cause to support a citizens’ arrest.



                * Retired judge of the Minnesota Court of Appeals, serving by appointment pursuant to Minn. Const. art. VI, § 10.