This opinion will be unpublished and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
John Alan Sandberg, petitioner,
Commissioner of Public Safety,
Filed March 5, 2002
Mille Lacs County District Court
File No. C5-01-252
Mark D. Kelly, 400 Exchange Building, 26 East Exchange Street, St. Paul, Minnesota 55101-2264 (for appellant)
Mike Hatch, Attorney General, Melissa J. Eberhart, Assistant Attorney General, Max A. Keller, Assistant Attorney General, 525 Park Street, Suite 500, St. Paul, Minnesota 55103 (for respondent)
Considered and decided by Schumacher, Presiding Judge, Hanson, Judge, and Huspeni, Judge.*
Appellant seeks review of the district court order sustaining his driver’s license revocation under the implied consent statute. Appellant argues that police officers did not have probable cause to believe that he was the driver of the vehicle that led them on a high-speed chase; thus, their warrantless entry into his home was unlawful and all the fruits of their entry were inadmissible as evidence. Because both probable cause and exigent circumstances support the officers’ warrantless entry of appellant’s home to effect an arrest, and the police had probable cause to invoke the implied consent advisory, we affirm.
Officers Terry Boltjes and Dan Holada were on routine patrol when they observed a white or “silverish” truck run a stop sign. As the officers began to follow the truck, intending to initiate a stop, the truck accelerated. Officer Boltjes then activated the emergency lights on his squad car and a high-speed chase ensued.
When the truck went through a second stop sign, Officer Boltjes activated the squad car’s siren. The pursuit continued for approximately six miles. The officers remained approximately one-quarter to one-half mile behind the truck. As the officers continued to pursue the truck, a second vehicle’s headlights appeared from a distance down the road. Both the truck and the second vehicle turned into a residential driveway.
The officers pulled up behind the second vehicle and observed the truck, which was somewhat hidden due to the way it was parked by a garage. As he exited the squad car, Officer Boltjes saw a blonde individual running inside the house, from the front door to the back of the house. Both officers walked up to the house and appellant’s father opened the door. Officer Boltjes stated that he “wanted the driver of the pickup.” The father said that he was in the back bedroom. Appellant’s father went into the back bedroom, but emerged without his son. The officers then entered the house, walked into the back bedroom and saw a blonde male, appellant John Alan Sandberg, lying in bed. Officer Boltjes told Sandberg that he was under arrest for felony fleeing.
As he was walking Sandberg to the squad car, Officer Boltjes noticed the odor of alcohol. While en route to the sheriff’s department, Sandberg vomited in the back of the squad car. At the sheriff’s department, Officer Boltjes administered field sobriety tests, which Sandberg failed. Officer Boltjes then read the implied consent advisory to Sandberg and placed him under arrest for driving while impaired (DWI). An intoxilizer test administered to Sandberg at the jail showed a blood alcohol concentration of .13. Based on that test, the Commissioner of Public Safety gave notice of the revocation of Sandberg’s driver’s license.
Following an implied consent hearing, the district court denied Sandberg’s motion to suppress evidence, concluding that the officers had probable cause to enter the home without a warrant to arrest Sandberg and also had probable cause to invoke the implied consent advisory. The district court sustained the revocation of Sandberg’s driver’s license. This appeal followed.
Sandberg argues that the district court erred by denying his motion to suppress evidence obtained from the entry to Sandberg’s home without a warrant.
The Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution and Article I, Section 10 of the Minnesota Constitution prohibit unreasonable searches and seizures of persons, houses, papers and effects. “In reviewing court rulings on fourth amendment issues, this court accepts the [district] court's findings of fact, unless clearly erroneous, but independently applies fourth amendment case law to the facts so found.” State v. Saffeels, 484 N.W.2d 429, 430 (Minn. App. 1992) (citing State v. Storvick, 428 N.W.2d 55, 58 n.1 (Minn. 1988), review denied (Minn. June 1, 1992).
To justify a warrantless entry of a person’s home in order to make an arrest, the state must show either (1) consent, or (2) probable cause and exigent circumstances. State v. Othoudt, 482 N.W.2d 218, 222 (Minn. 1992). Absent consent, if a warrantless entry is made without probable cause or without exigent circumstances, the fruit of the illegal entry must be suppressed. Id. Probable cause exists where the objective facts are such that a person of ordinary care and prudence would entertain an honest and strong suspicion that a crime has been committed. State v. Horner, 617 N.W.2d 789, 795 (Minn. 2000). Exigent circumstances exist where police are in hot pursuit of a fleeing suspect. Thus, a person may not defeat a warrantless arrest which has been set in motion in a public place by escaping to a private dwelling. State v. Koziol, 338 N.W.2d 47, 48 (1983) (citing U.S. v. Santana, 427 U.S. 38, 43, 96 S. Ct. 2406, 2410 (1976)). In exigent circumstances, police in hot pursuit of a fleeing suspect do not need a warrant before entering a dwelling into which the fleeing suspect has entered. Id.
The state does not claim consent, but claims probable cause and exigent circumstances of hot pursuit. Sandberg argues that the state cannot show probable cause or exigent circumstances of hot pursuit because the officers were unable to distinctly describe the truck they were pursuing, the officers were unable to identify the driver of the truck during the chase, and the officers did not actually observe the driver exit the vehicle and enter the house.
Sandberg’s arguments are misplaced. The officers’ inability to distinctly describe the truck was immaterial when the officers maintained continuous observation of the truck until it stopped at the house. The officers’ inability to identify the driver of the truck during the chase was immaterial when the officers observed a blonde individual running within the house, from the front door to the back, and Sandberg’s father identified Sandberg as “the driver of pickup,” stating that he was in the back bedroom. These two facts, taken together, support the inference that Sandberg was the driver and that his running to the back of the house was the last leg of his attempt to escape arrest.
Contrary to Sandberg’s argument, it is not necessary that the fleeing suspect be identified while still in public. An exigent circumstance of hot pursuit exists when an arrest has been set into motion in public, and an arrest is set in motion when police officers begin chasing a fleeing suspect. See Pahlen v. Comm’r of Pub. Safety, 382 N.W.2d 552, 554 (Minn. App. 1986) (citing Santana, 427 U.S. at 43, 96 S. Ct. at 2410, in which the court defined “hot pursuit” as “some sort of a chase”).
Likewise, it is not necessary that an officer actually see a suspect run from the vehicle to a residence. Sandberg cites no authority to establish that such an observation is a requirement, but instead can only argue that such an observation was present in both Santana and Pahlen, where warrantless entries were justified due to exigent circumstances of hot pursuit.
In Santana, the defendant was suspected of selling heroin and when police arrived at her house, she was standing in the doorway. Santana, 427 U.S. at 40, 96 S. Ct. at 2408. When she retreated into the vestibule of her house, the police followed her through the open door and placed her under arrest. Id. In Pahlen, the officer observed the suspect exit his vehicle and enter his home. Pahlen, 382 N.W.2d at 553.
Although Santana and Pahlen involved situations where the officers saw the suspect enter the house, that fact was not essential to their holdings. The conclusion that a suspect was the driver who then entered a house can be based either on direct evidence, such as the officer’s observations in Santana and Pahlen, or on circumstantial evidence. Here, the circumstantial evidence was sufficient to support the officers’ belief that Sandberg was the driver of the truck and had entered the house.
Given the facts known to the officers prior to entering the house, the officers had probable cause to believe that Sandberg was the driver, that he had committed a felony and that he would be found in the residence. This probable cause, together with the exigent circumstances of hot pursuit, support the conclusion that the officers’ warrantless entry of Sandberg’s house was lawful.
Sandberg argues that Officer Boltjes “seized” him without first establishing a reasonable and articulable suspicion of criminal activity. Sandberg did not make this argument to the district court. Accordingly, it is not properly before this court. Thiele v. Stich, 425 N.W.2d 580, 582 (Minn. 1988) (only issues presented to and considered by district court may be reviewed on appeal). In any event, the existence of probable cause to enter the house to arrest Sandberg exceeds the reasonable articulable suspicion standard required to effect a lawful seizure.
Sandberg argues that the officers did not have probable cause to arrest him for DWI or to invoke the implied consent advisory. Sandberg does not contest the fact that he was intoxicated and, thus, this argument is simply another variation of his central theme that the officers did not actually see Sandberg in the vehicle or entering the house.
Probable cause to arrest for DWI exists where all the facts and circumstances would warrant a cautious person to believe that the suspect was driving or operating a vehicle while under the influence. State v. Harris, 295 Minn. 38, 42, 202 N.W.2d 878, 881 (Minn. 1978). An officer need not personally observe the defendant in the act of driving or operating the vehicle in order to establish probable cause to believe the person was driving a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol. Harris, 295 Minn. at 42, 202 N.W.2d at 880-81. All that is required is that the officer have reasonable grounds for forming a belief that the individual had been driving the vehicle. Harris, 295 Minn. at 42, 202 N.W.2d at 881.
For the reasons stated above, the totality of the circumstances provided the officers with probable cause to believe that Sandberg was the driver of the truck. Because Sandberg does not contest the fact that he was intoxicated, we conclude that Officer Boltjes had probable cause to arrest Sandberg for DWI and to invoke the implied consent advisory.
* Retired judge of the Minnesota Court of Appeals, serving by appointment pursuant to Minn. Const. art. VI, § 10.