This opinion will be unpublished and

may not be cited except as provided by

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






Ronald Louis Mujwid,






Commissioner of Public Safety,



Filed July 23, 2002

Anderson, Judge


Sherburne County District Court

File No. C2012205


Douglas G. Sauter, Barna, Guzy & Steffen, Ltd., 200 Coon Rapids Boulevard, 400 Northtown Financial Plaza, Minneapolis, MN  55433 (for appellant)


Mike Hatch, Attorney General, Max Keller, Assistant Attorney General, 525 Park Street, Suite 500, St. Paul, MN  55103 (for respondent)


            Considered and decided by Hanson, Presiding Judge, Halbrooks, Judge, and Anderson, Judge.

U N P U B L I S H E D   O P I N I O N


            On appeal from the district court’s order sustaining the revocation of his driving privileges, appellant Ronald Louis Mujwid challenges the legality of the initial stop of his vehicle.  Because the information reported to police dispatch by an identified citizen tipster contained sufficient indicia of reliability to justify an investigatory stop, we affirm revocation of appellant’s driving privileges.


            On September 29, 2001, at approximately 9:56 p.m., the Sherburne County dispatch office received a 911 call from a citizen who identified herself and supplied her telephone number.  The caller reported that the vehicle in front of her was “going over the center line, way over onto the other side of the road,” eastbound on County Road 4.  The caller further described the suspect vehicle as a blue Suburban and supplied the license plate number of the vehicle.  The caller then reported that the suspect vehicle “almost hit somebody.”  The dispatcher asked the caller if she would describe the vehicle as “all over the road,” and she agreed that she would.

            The dispatcher alerted Sherburne County Deputy Sheriff Jeffrey Ruhland that an identified caller had reported that she was following a blue Suburban that was driving “all over the road.”  The dispatcher told the deputy that the vehicle was traveling eastbound on County Road 4 and gave the deputy the Suburban’s license plate number.

            The deputy positioned himself at the intersection of County Roads 4 and 1 in order to intercept the Suburban.  Within a short period of time, the deputy observed a blue Suburban drive by with a license plate matching the information given.  The deputy followed the Suburban for approximately one-quarter mile, but did not observe any illegal driving conduct.

            The deputy stopped the vehicle.  Appellant, the driver, was subsequently arrested for DWI after his alcohol level tested above .10.  According to appellant, the deputy stopped his vehicle approximately six to seven minutes after the caller reported appellant’s driving conduct and approximately six miles beyond the point where the caller observed the driving conduct.


            On undisputed facts, we review the legality of limited investigatory stops de novo.  State v. Britton, 604 N.W.2d 84, 87 (Minn. 2000); Berge v. Comm’r of Pub. Safety, 374 N.W.2d 730, 732 (Minn. 1985).

            Under the Fourth Amendment, an officer may stop a vehicle if he or she has a “specific and articulable suspicion of a [traffic] violation.”  Marben v. State, Dep’t of Pub. Safety, 294 N.W.2d 697, 699 (Minn. 1980) (citing cases following principles set out in Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1, 21, 88 S. Ct. 1868, 1880 (1968)).  The factual basis necessary to support a routine traffic stop is minimal and need not arise from the deputy’s personal observations, but may be obtained from information supplied by another person, including an informant.  Marben, 294 N.W.2d at 699; Jobe v. Comm’r of Pub. Safety, 609 N.W.2d 919, 921 (Minn. App. 2000).

            An informant’s tip must contain sufficient “indicia of reliability” to justify a traffic stop.  Jobe, 609 N.W.2d at 921 (quotation omitted).  The reliability of an informant’s information is judged by (1) “identifying information given by the informant” and (2) “the facts that support the informant’s assertion” that a traffic stop is warranted.  Id.  “Neither of these factors is dispositive, however; we evaluate the basis for a stop in light of the totality of the circumstances.”  Id. (citations omitted).

            With respect to the first factor, the citizen caller identified herself and gave her cell phone number to the police dispatcher.  See Marben, 294 N.W.2d at 699 (indicating that tip provided by private, identifiable citizen informant is presumed reliable because informant can be held responsible for tip).  The caller was following appellant’s vehicle, personally observed his driving conduct, and specifically described that conduct to the dispatcher.  See Playle v. Comm’r of Pub. Safety, 439 N.W.2d 747, 749 (Minn. App. 1989) (upholding stop where circumstances indicated that caller, who identified himself as Burger King employee, personally made reported observations).  Given these facts, we conclude that sufficient identifying information was provided by the caller to allow police to presume that her tip was reliable.

            Next, we consider whether police had an articulable basis for an investigatory stop based solely on the information provided by the caller.  The caller here informed the dispatcher that she was following a vehicle that was “going over the center line, way over onto the other side of the road.”  This driving conduct alone could have supported the stop.  See Minn. Stat § 169.18, subd. 1 (Supp. 2001) (“vehicle shall be driven upon the right half of the roadway”); State v. Richardson, 622 N.W.2d 823, 825-26 (Minn. 2001) (deputy’s independent observation of erratic driving, which included crossing of fog and center lines, after receiving report from another driver that vehicle was “all over the road” was sufficient to support stop); State v. Wagner, 637 N.W.2d 330, 336 (Minn. App. 2001) (crossing of center line is violation of traffic laws and will generally provide officer with objective and reasonable suspicion to conduct investigatory stop).  The additional facts relayed by the informant, including her statement that the vehicle “almost hit somebody,” her agreement with the dispatcher’s characterization that the vehicle was “all over the road,” detailed description of the vehicle and its location, which were confirmed by the deputy, provided further support for the stop.  See Jobe, 609 N.W.2d at 922 (upholding stop based on 911 caller’s report that there was a “drunk” in front of him who was “swerving around on the road”).  We conclude that these facts provided sufficient support for the stop.[2]

            Appellant nevertheless argues that the stop was illegal because the citizen informant did not claim that she believed the driver in front of her was intoxicated.  Appellant, however, misconstrues the basis for the stop.  The stop here was not based on any claim that appellant was intoxicated or even possibly intoxicated; the stop was based solely on the fact that appellant had crossed the center line and “was all over the road.”

            This driving conduct was personally observed by the informant and was specifically described to dispatch by the informant, upon additional questioning by dispatch.  This case is thus distinguishable from Olson v. Comm’r of Pub. Safety, 371 N.W.2d 552, 555-56 (Minn. 1985) and Rose v. Comm’r of Pub. Safety, 637 N.W.2d 326, 329-30 (Minn. App. 2001), where informants reported “possibly” drunk or intoxicated drivers without giving any specific information about how that conclusion was reached or without dispatch asking additional crucial questions of the informants to supply that basis of knowledge.  Unlike this case, in both Olson and Rose, the stops were held to be illegal because they were not based on specific and articulable suspicion of traffic violations.

            We therefore affirm the district court’s revocation of appellant’s driving privileges.


[1] The facts are from the transcript of the implied consent hearing, at which Deputy Sheriff Ruhland testified, and from the tape of the 911 call, which was admitted into evidence at the hearing. 

[2] At oral arguments, appellant also claimed that the stop, which took place approximately six to seven minutes after the caller’s report and six miles later, was too remote in time and distance from the caller’s observations.  We agree with the commissioner, however, that the response time of law enforcement was entirely reasonable, given the rural nature of the area in which the stop occurred.  Thus, the passage of time and distance did not adversely affect the legality of the stop.