This opinion will be unpublished and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
State of Minnesota,
Andrean A. Snegirev,
Filed May 6, 2003
Stearns County District Court
File No. K3011405
Mike Hatch, Attorney General, 525 Park Street, Suite 500, St. Paul, MN 55103; and
Jan F. Petersen, City Attorney, Laura L. Gray, Assistant City Attorney, 400 Second Street South, St. Cloud, MN 56301 (for respondent)
John M. Stuart, State Public Defender, Roy G. Spurbeck, Assistant State Public Defender, Aaron J. Marcus, Certified Student Attorney, 2221 University Avenue Southeast, Suite 425, Minneapolis, MN 55414 (for appellant)
Considered and decided by Stoneburner, Presiding Judge, Lansing, Judge, and Klaphake, Judge.
Andrean Snegirev appeals from his conviction for first-degree DWI, driving after revocation, and test refusal. Minn. Stat. §§ 169A.25, 169A.20, subd. 2, 171.24, subd. 2 (2002). He challenges the district court’s determination that the stop of his vehicle was lawful, even though based solely on information obtained by the officer that the registered owner’s license was revoked. Because the officer articulated a reasonable basis for the initial stop of appellant’s vehicle and because the officer thereafter obtained additional facts that gave him a particularized basis to suspect criminal activity, we affirm.
On April 1, 2001, St. Cloud Police Officer Tad Hoeschen was on basic street patrol conducting random motor vehicle license plate checks. His squad car was equipped with a mobile data computer (MDC), which allowed him to access motor vehicle registration and driver’s license information.
Hoeschen was traveling behind a maroon 1987 Mercury automobile with license plate number “FZB-904.” Hoeschen ran a license plate check, and the plate came back registered to a “Feoktista Snegirev.” The information received by Hoeschen included the registered owner’s name, date of birth (11/28/67), and address, but no other identifying information such as gender, height, or weight.
Hoeschen then ran a driving record check on “Feoktista Snegirev,” the registered owner. This check revealed that the registered owner’s driving privileges were revoked in Minnesota, and gave the registered owner’s address and date of birth. No other identifying information was provided.
Hoeschen stopped the vehicle. Hoeschen testified that he could not tell the gender of the driver and did not see how many people were in the vehicle before the stop occurred. Hoeschen further testified that he did not know whether the name of the registered owner, “Feoktista Snegirev,” was male or female.
Hoeschen testified that he detected a moderate odor of alcohol coming from the vehicle when he approached it. Hoeschen asked the driver if he was the registered owner and the driver said that he was not. The driver identified himself as appellant, Andrean Snegirev, but was unable to produce a Minnesota driver’s license or any other form of identification. While Hoeschen was talking to appellant, he observed several other indicia of intoxication. Hoeschen asked appellant to step out of the vehicle and perform field sobriety tests, which appellant failed.
On undisputed facts, review of a pretrial suppression order is a question of law. State v. Othoudt, 482 N.W.2d 218, 221 (Minn. 1992).
The United States and Minnesota Constitutions prohibit unreasonable searches and seizures. U.S. Const. amend. IV; Minn. Const. art. I, § 10. 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.” State v. Britton, 604 N.W.2d 84, 87 (Minn. 2000) (quoting Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1, 21, 88 S. Ct. 1868, 1880 (1968)).
Here, the sole basis articulated by Officer Hoeschen consisted of information obtained by him during a random license plate check that the registered owner of the vehicle traveling in front of him had a revoked license. In State v. Pike, 551 N.W.2d 919, 922 (Minn. 1996), the supreme court held that “knowledge that the owner of a vehicle has a revoked license is enough to form the basis of a ‘reasonable suspicion’ * * * when the officer observes the vehicle being driven.” Thus, an officer with such information may make a brief investigatory stop to determine the license status of the driver.
The court in Pike further held, however, that this suspicion exists only as long as the officer remains “unaware of any facts which would render unreasonable the assumption that the owner is driving the vehicle.” Id. For instance,
if the officer knows that the owner of a vehicle has a revoked license and further, that the owner is a 22-year-old male, and the officer observes that the person driving the vehicle is a 50- or 60-year-old woman, any reasonable suspicion of criminal activity evaporates.
Appellant argues that Hoeschen was “unreasonable in continuing the stop after he identified the gender of the driver” and that Hoeschen “was unreasonably mistaken in identifying the name [Feoktista] as male.” But Hoeschen testified that he was not familiar with the name, “Feoktista,” and did not know whether the registered owner was male or female.
Other cases upholding investigatory stops of vehicles registered to owners with revoked licenses generally present additional facts on which the officer could have based the stop. See, e.g., State v. Baumann, 616 N.W.2d 771, 774 (Minn. App. 2000) (upholding stop of vehicle with special series license plate, where officer received information earlier in shift that white Chevrolet Corsica with special series plate had been seen in immediate area, that registered owner of vehicle had warrants out for his arrest and “was canceled IPS,” and where officer knew this type of plate was issued to those with history of DWI offenses), review denied (Minn. Nov. 15, 2000).
Here, however, there are no additional facts, and Officer Hoeschen made no attempt to obtain any additional facts prior to the stop. But Pike does not impose any duty on an officer to attempt to obtain a description of the registered owner, or to attempt to observe the driver and ascertain whether that description matches the person driving the vehicle. Rather, under Pike, the stop of a vehicle with a plate registered to a driver with a revoked license is legal, as long as the officer makes no additional observations or has no additional information that could dispel the assumption that the registered owner is actually driving the vehicle.
Appellant further argues that once he told Hoeschen that he was not the registered owner and once he told Hoeschen that his name was “Andrean Snegirev,” the stop should have ended. However, Hoeschen testified that by that time, he had detected a moderate odor of alcohol coming from the vehicle. Hoeschen further testified that appellant failed to produce identification. Although Hoeschen admitted that it is not necessarily a crime to have an odor of alcohol coming from a vehicle, this observation, combined with appellant’s failure to produce identification, was enough to allow Hoeschen to legally continue with his investigatory stop.
We therefore affirm the district court’s decision upholding the stop in this case.