This opinion will be unpublished and
may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (2002).
STATE OF MINNESOTA
IN COURT OF APPEALS
Bradley Gerald Jagodzinski,
Commissioner of Public Safety,
Filed February 18, 2003
Wright County District Court
File No. C50217
Rachael Goldberger, Jerry Strauss, 250 Second Avenue South, Suite 110, Minneapolis, MN 55401 (for appellant)
Mike Hatch, Attorney General, Francis Green III, Assistant Attorney General, 525 Park Street, Suite 500, St. Paul, MN 55103 (for respondent)
Considered and decided by Lansing, Presiding Judge, Klaphake, Judge, and Stoneburner, Judge.
Appellant Bradley Jagodzinski challenges the district court’s order affirming the revocation of his driver’s license under Minn. Stat. § 169A.53 (2000). Appellant alleges that the district court erred in determining that the police officer had a reasonable, articulable suspicion to make an investigatory stop. Because the district court’s findings of fact are not clearly erroneous and the findings support its conclusions of law, we affirm.
D E C I S I O N
The lawfulness of an investigatory stop is “purely a legal determination on given facts.” Berge v. Comm’r. of Pub. Safety, 374 N.W.2d 730, 732 (Minn. 1985). The appellate court reviews the district court’s factual findings involving the circumstances of the stop under a clear-error standard, but independently reviews the district court’s legal conclusions regarding the validity of the stop. See State v. Wiernasz, 584 N.W.2d 1, 3 (Minn. 1998).
A police officer may make an investigative stop of a motor vehicle if the officer has a specific and articulable basis to suspect that the driver has violated a traffic law. State v. George, 557 N.W.2d 575, 578 (Minn. 1997). Even a minor traffic violation may serve as a basis for a stop. State v. Wagner, 637 N.W.2d 330, 335-36 (Minn. App. 2001). Here, the police officer testified that as he followed appellant at a distance of about 100 yards, he observed appellant’s car cross the center line. See id. at 335 (“When there is credible testimony that the driver actually crossed the center line, [courts] have uniformly found investigatory stops valid.”) (citation omitted)).
Appellant argues that the police officer’s testimony is inherently unreliable, because he stated that appellant’s car crossed the center line either three or four times, and because he was uncertain as to the color of the center line. These are questions of credibility, and, as such, we defer to the district court’s opportunity to judge the officer’s credibility. State v. Dickerson, 481 N.W.2d 840, 843 (Minn. 1992), aff’d, Minnesota v. Dickerson, 508 U.S. 366, 113 S. Ct. 2130 (1993). Further, a review of the record shows that the police officer’s testimony is consistent; a picture submitted by appellant as an exhibit shows a trace of a yellow center line, as described by the police officer.
Based on these factual findings, we conclude that the police officer had a reasonable and articulable suspicion on which to base an investigatory stop. We therefore affirm the district court’s order sustaining the revocation of appellant’s driver’s license.