This opinion will be unpublished and

may not be cited except as provided by

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






State of Minnesota,





Gilberto Garza, Jr.,



Filed November 12, 2002


Halbrooks, Judge



Nicollet County District Court

File No. K401299


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


James W. Brandt, St. Peter City Attorney, Ryan B. Magnus, Assistant City Attorney, 219 West Nassau, P.O. Box 57, St. Peter, MN 56082 (for respondent)


John M. Stuart, State Public Defender, Sharon E. Jacks, Assistant Public Defender, 2829 University Avenue SE, Suite 600, Minneapolis, MN 55414 (for appellant)


            Considered and decided by Stoneburner, Presiding Judge, Kalitowski, Judge, and Halbrooks, Judge.

U N P U B L I S H E D   O P I N I O N


            On appeal from his conviction of second-degree DWI, appellant argues that the officer lacked specific and articulable suspicion for the investigative stop when the stop was based on (1) information from the dispatcher of an unlicensed driver in a specific vehicle, and (2) the officer’s observation of a male driving that vehicle well under the speed limit.  Appellant also argues that under the collective-knowledge doctrine, all information known to the dispatcher is imputed to the officer whether or not the dispatcher communicates the information to the officer.  We do not reach the collective knowledge issue because it is not properly before us.  Because we conclude that the officer had a reasonable, articulable basis to stop appellant’s vehicle, we affirm.


            On May 12, 2001, a private citizen called the St. Peter police department to report that a woman named Kimberly Erickson was driving a specific vehicle in a particular area without a valid driver’s license.  The dispatcher confirmed that Erickson lacked a driver’s license and provided Officer Paul David Hagen with a description of the vehicle, the license-plate number, the area in which the vehicle was traveling, and information that the driver lacked a valid driver’s license.  The dispatcher did not relay the driver’s name or gender to Officer Hagen. 

Officer Hagen saw the vehicle as it left a liquor store parking lot.  The officer followed the vehicle for approximately one block.  During that time, the driver did not violate any traffic laws, but drove 10 mph in a 30 mph zone. 

At the omnibus hearing, Officer Hagen testified that the slow speed raised his concern, because he thought that the driver became nervous after noticing the squad car.  Officer Hagen further testified that he stopped the vehicle based on both the dispatcher’s information and the vehicle’s slow rate of speed.  The driver was identified as appellant Gilberto Garza, Jr.  Officer Hagen confirmed that Garza was unlicensed and under the influence of alcohol. 

The City of St. Peter charged Garza with two counts of second-degree DWI and two counts of third-degree DWI under Minn. Stat. §§ 169A.20, subd. 1(1), (5), .26, .27, 171.24, subd. 2 (2000).  Garza moved to dismiss the charges on the ground that the state’s evidence was obtained as a result of an unconstitutional stop.  The trial court denied Garza’s motion, concluding that the stop was constitutional because the tipster was not anonymous, and the officer observed the vehicle being driven at a slow rate of speed.  The court did not address the issue of whether or not the dispatcher’s knowledge can be imputed to the officer when it is not communicated.  Garza waived his right to a jury trial and submitted his case to the court on stipulated facts.  The trial court found Garza guilty of second-degree DWI and driving after revocation.  This appeal follows. 


            Garza contends that Officer Hagen lacked reasonable suspicion for the investigative stop.  When we examine a district court’s determination of the legality of an investigatory stop, we 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).  In Minnesota, an investigatory stop is lawful if the officer can articulate a particularized and objective basis for suspecting that a person is engaged in criminal activity.  In re G.M., 560 N.W.2d 687, 691 (Minn. 1997).  We examine the events surrounding the stop and consider the totality of the circumstances in reviewing the basis for the stop.  Britton, 604 N.W.2d at 87.

            Garza argues that Officer Hagen’s observation that he drove 10 mph in a 30 mph zone does not create a reasonable suspicion of ongoing criminal activity because slow driving does not violate the law and because slow driving does not rise to the level of conduct that creates reasonable suspicion.

            It is well settled that “[a]n officer need not observe a violation to make a valid stop.”  Johnson v. Comm’r of Pub. Safety, 388 N.W.2d 759, 760 (Minn. App. 1986) (citation omitted).  Where no traffic laws are broken, a traffic stop may be upheld if the officer had specific and articulable facts that, taken together with rational inferences, warrant an investigatory stop.  State v. Engholm, 290 N.W.2d 780, 784 (Minn. 1980).  In making an investigatory stop, all that is required is that the stop not be made on the basis of mere whim, caprice, or idle curiosity.  Marben v. State, Dep’t of Pub. Safety, 294 N.W.2d 697, 699 (Minn. 1980).  The required factual basis for an investigatory stop is minimal.  See State v. McKinley, 232 N.W.2d 906, 909 (Minn. 1975).  

Garza distinguishes his slow driving from that in State v. Haataja, 611 N.W.2d 353, 355 (Minn. App. 2000), where it was determined that the officer had reasonable suspicion to stop a car that drove slowly for a quarter of a mile and impeded the flow of traffic in violation of Minn. Stat. § 169.15 (1998).[1]

There is no evidence in the record to suggest that Garza blocked traffic and violated the statute at issue in Haataja.  But an officer’s observation of a vehicle moving well under the speed limit can serve as one factor in formulating reasonable suspicion to justify an investigatory stop.  See Shull v. Comm’r of Pub. Safety, 398 N.W.2d 11, 14 (Minn. 1986) (concluding that even where the road was snow-packed and icy, a vehicle traveling slower than necessary and weaving back and forth over the centerline creates a basis for reasonable suspicion); Engholm, 290 N.W.2d at 784 (indicating that an officer has a reasonable suspicion when a vehicle proceeds at 15-20 mph in a 30 mph zone and weaves within its lane).  Given the minimal factual basis required for an investigatory stop and the deference to the officer’s rational inferences, Officer Hagan properly considered Garza’s slow speed as a basis for forming a reasonable suspicion. 

At the omnibus hearing, Officer Hagen testified that he stopped Garza based on both his observation that Garza drove well under the speed limit and the information relayed by the dispatcher—specifically, the vehicle’s description and license-plate number, the area in which the vehicle was traveling, and the fact that the driver did not have a valid driver’s license.  Considering the totality of the circumstances, we conclude that Officer Hagen had reasonable, articulable suspicion to stop Garza’s vehicle. 

            Garza argues for the first time on appeal that, under the collective-knowledge doctrine, we must impute the dispatcher’s knowledge to Officer Hagen whether or not it was communicated.  Under this theory, Officer Hagen would not have had reasonable suspicion to stop a male driver because the dispatcher knew that the tipster reported the driver as a female.  This court may decline to address issues raised for the first time on appeal.  State v. Sorenson, 441 N.W.2d 455, 457 (Minn. 1989).  Garza argued to the trial court that the stop was unlawful because the “tip was no better than an anonymous tip and the officer should have developed further reasons before making the stop.”  Because he never raised the issue of the collective-knowledge doctrine, that argument is waived.



[1]  No person shall drive a motor vehicle at such a slow speed as to impede or block the normal and reasonable movement of traffic except when reduced speed is necessary for safe operation or in compliance with law or except when the vehicle is temporarily unable to maintain a greater speed due to a combination of the weight of the vehicle and the grade of the highway. 


Minn. Stat. § 169.15.