This opinion will be unpublished and

may not be cited except as provided by

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







State of Minnesota,





Curtis Lee Drift,



Filed October 15, 2002


Lansing, Judge


St. Louis County District Court

File No. K001101479



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


Michael K. Kearney, Prosecuting Attorney for the City of Virginia, 301 Chestnut Street, Virginia, MN  55792 (for respondent)


Bradford Colbert, Attorney at Law, 875 Summit Avenue, Room 254, St. Paul, MN  55105 (for appellant)


            Considered and decided by Harten, Presiding Judge, Lansing, Judge, and Kalitowski, Judge.

U N P U B L I S H E D   O P I N I O N




            In this appeal from a conviction for DWI, Curtis Drift argues that an officer who received a dispatch identifying the make, model, color, and license plate number of a car “being driven in a careless manner” did not have articulable suspicion to support an investigatory stop of Drift’s car.  Because the off-duty police officer who reported the careless driving also told the dispatcher that the car was speeding and traveling in and out of its traffic lane, we affirm.


            An off-duty St. Louis County police officer called the 911 dispatch center from his cell phone to report that a tan colored Chevrolet Cavalier, with Tennessee license plate number 210 SPF, and southbound on Highway 53 was “all over the road going in and out of the traffic lane.”  He also told the dispatcher that the car had three or four occupants.  The 911 dispatch center relayed that information to the state patrol by radio.  The off-duty police officer then reported back to the center, stating that he and the tan Chevrolet were continuing southbound on highway 53, and that “I’m 85 and they’re blowing…they’re about going I’d say about 90.”  The dispatcher relayed that additional information to the state patrol.

A few minutes later, the dispatcher informed the Virginia Police Department that a Chevrolet Cavalier with Tennessee license plate 210 SPF was southbound on Highway 53 toward Virginia and was being driven carelessly.  A Virginia patrol officer turned his vehicle around and drove to that area.  He saw the described car at the intersection of 9th Avenue North and 9th Street North, activated his vehicle’s emergency lights, and stopped the car.

The patrol officer approached the car and told the driver the reason for the stop.  The driver, later identified as Curtis Drift, got out of the car.  Drift orally misidentified himself to the officer and told the officer that he did not have a driver’s license.  The officer noticed that Drift was unsteady on his feet and that his breath had a strong odor of an alcoholic beverage.  Drift later admitted that he had consumed “a couple beers.”

Drift was arrested and charged with two counts of DWI (a gross misdemeanor), one count of giving false information to a police officer (gross misdemeanor), and one count of intent to escape tax (gross misdemeanor).  At a contested omnibus hearing, Drift moved to suppress evidence gained as a result of the stop, arguing that the stop was illegal, and to dismiss charges.  For purposes of the suppression motion, the parties agreed to rely on the evidence of the police reports and the transcript of the 911 call.  They stipulated that, although the Virginia patrol officer did not know the identity of the informant at the time of the stop, the 911 dispatcher did.  They further stipulated that the patrol officer did not independently form probable cause for the stop but relied solely on the dispatcher’s information.  The district court denied the motion to suppress.

Drift waived his right to a jury trial and submitted the case to the court under Minn. R. Crim. P. 26.01, subd. 3 (describing procedure by which defendant can submit case on stipulated facts while preserving right to appeal the judgment and raise issues the same as from any trial to court).  The district court found Drift guilty of one count of DWI, and Drift appeals.


When reviewing a district court’s determination of the legality of a limited investigatory stop, this court reviews 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) (noting that the validity of a stop presents a purely legal question).  Within the ambit of the Fourth Amendment, a police officer may conduct a limited stop to investigate suspected criminal activity if the officer can “point to specific and articulable facts which, taken together with rational inferences from those facts, reasonably warrant the intrusion.”  Britton, 604 N.W.2d at 87 (quoting Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1, 21, 88 S. Ct. 1868, 1880 (1968)).  A stop is lawful if the police officer has a “particularized and objective basis for suspecting the particular persons stopped of criminal activity.”  Berge v. Comm’r of Pub. Safety, 374 N.W.2d 730, 732 (Minn. 1985) (quoting United States v. Cortez, 449 U.S. 411, 417-18, 101 S. Ct. 690, 694-95 (1981)).  In determining whether the police had a valid basis for the stop, a reviewing court considers the totality of the circumstances.  See Cortez, 449 U.S. at 417, 101 S. Ct. at 695.

The factual basis for a stop need not arise from the personal observations of the police officer but may be derived from information acquired from another person.  Marben v. State, Dep’t. of Pub. Safety, 294 N.W.2d 697, 699 (Minn. 1980).  If an informant’s tip has sufficient indicia of reliability, it may be adequate to support an investigative stop.  State v. Cavegn,  294 N.W.2d 717, 721 (Minn. 1980).  The collective knowledge of the police may also provide the basis for an investigatory stop.  State v. Riley, 568 N.W.2d 518, 523 (Minn. 1997).  Under the collective knowledge doctrine, the factual basis underlying the official suspicion need not be known to the officer acting in the field.  Cavegn, 294 N.W.2d at 721.  See Olson v. Comm’r. of Pub. Safety, 371 N.W.2d 552, 555 (Minn. 1985) (whether evidence was admissible depended on “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”).

Drift argues that the dispatcher did not convey to the patrol officer all the information that formed the basis for the stop.  But under the doctrine of collective knowledge, all relevant information need not be conveyed directly to the arresting officer.  The off-duty officer had supplied the dispatcher with specific details of the car’s make, model, color, and license plate number, as well as observations of erratic driving and driving at high speeds.  The dispatcher provided the patrol officer with the specific information necessary to identify the car and the general information that the car was being driven carelessly.  The patrol officer inferred the car’s logical location from the information he had been given and verified the car’s make, model, color, and license plate number before he made the stop.  In these circumstances, the patrol officer is not required to observe an actual driving violation as a basis for articulable suspicion.  Under the totality of the circumstances, sufficient specific articulable facts, known collectively to the police officers, justified the investigative stop.