This opinion will be unpublished and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,
Andrew Michael Coopman,
Gordon W. Shumaker, Judge
Blue Earth County District Court
File No. K1-03-1412
Mike Hatch, Attorney General, Thomas Ragatz, Assistant Attorney General, 1800 NCL Tower, 445 Minnesota Street, St. Paul, MN 55101-2134; and
Ross E. Arneson, Blue Earth County Attorney, Christa Marie Van Gundy, Assistant Blue Earth County Attorney, 410 South Fifth Street, P.O. Box 3129, Mankato, MN 56002 (for respondent)
Allen P. Eskens, Paul E. Grabitske, Eskens, Gibson & Behm Law Firm, Chtd., 115 East Hickory Street, Suite 200, P.O. Box 1056, Mankato, MN 56002-1056 (for appellant)
Considered and decided by Stoneburner, Presiding Judge; Shumaker, Judge; and Wright, Judge.
U N P U B L I S H E D O P I N I O N
GORDON W. SHUMAKER, Judge
Appellant argues that the district court erred when it denied his motion to suppress evidence obtained from a lawful traffic stop of a vehicle in which he was a passenger because he was unlawfully seized, the scope and duration of the stop were unlawfully expanded, and his consent to search the car was invalid. Because the evidence was lawfully obtained from a traffic stop unrelated to the seizure of appellant, the scope and duration of the stop were not unlawfully expanded, and consent to search the car was unnecessary, we affirm.
Appellant Andrew Michael Coopman was a passenger in a car that was stopped for speeding by Officer Block in St. Peter, Minnesota, on September 23, 2003. The legality of the stop is unchallenged. Officer Grochow arrived at the scene shortly after the stop. Grochow knew Coopman from prior contact and knew Coopman had been present during the execution of a search warrant at an active methamphetamine lab two days prior to the stop.
While the driver, who was reasonably suspected of being under the influence of a controlled substance, was still being processed for the stop, a narcotics detection dog was brought to the scene. The dog alerted its officer to the presence of drugs in the car. When the dog alerted to the presence of drugs, the passengers were removed from the car. One of the other passengers was then found to be in possession of a quantity of marijuana and a pipe. When Coopman indicated that he was leasing the car, the officers requested that he sign a consent form to search the car. Before Coopman signed the consent form, the officers advised Coopman that the car would be towed and impounded whether or not he signed the consent.
The officers searched the trunk and found stolen tools, which provided the basis for the felony-theft charges against Coopman. On November 13, 2003, the district court denied Coopman’s motion to suppress the tool evidence, determining that the evidence was not obtained in violation of Coopman’s constitutional rights. After a Lothenbach trial, Coopman was convicted of theft under Minn. Stat. § 609.52, subd. 2 (1) (2002). This appeal followed.
D E C I S I O N
Coopman argues that the evidence of the stolen tools was obtained in violation of his constitutional rights during a legal traffic stop in which he was involved as a passenger, and thus the evidence should be suppressed. Both the United States Constitution and the Minnesota Constitution guarantee the “right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects” against “unreasonable searches and seizures.” U.S. Const. amend. IV; Minn. Const. art. I, § 10. When reviewing a pretrial order on a motion to suppress evidence, this court may independently review the facts and determine whether, as a matter of law, the district court erred in suppressing the evidence. State v. Askerooth, 681 N.W.2d 353, 359 (Minn. 2004). Minnesota law requires application of Terry principles to traffic stops. Id. at 361(citing Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1, 88 S. Ct. 1868 (1968)). A Terry analysis involves a dual inquiry. Id. at 364. First, the reviewing court asks whether the stop was justified at its inception. Id. Second, the reviewing court asks whether “the actions of the police during the stop were reasonably related to and justified by the circumstances that gave rise to the stop in the first place.” Id. Here, the legality of the stop is not at issue. Thus, we focus on the second Terry prong, which limits the scope and methods of a search or seizure. Id.
“An initially valid stop may become invalid if it becomes ‘intolerable’ in its ‘intensity or scope.’” Id. “Thus, each incremental intrusion during a stop must be strictly tied to and justified by the circumstances which rendered the initiation of the stop permissible.” Id. (quotations and citations omitted).
Coopman’s argument as to his seizure is not dispositive of the suppression issue. Even if Coopman were illegally seized, only evidence obtained as a result of that illegal seizure must be suppressed. See State v. Harris, 590 N.W.2d 90, 104-05 (Minn. 1999) (holding that when police perform an illegal search, any evidence obtained as a result of that search should be suppressed). Here, the evidence was obtained as a result of the stop and seizure of the vehicle and its driver, not as a result of the seizure of Coopman. The parties concede that the stop of the driver was legal. The search of the vehicle and the evidence obtained were incident to that legal stop and did not result from the seizure of Coopman. Our next issues then are (1) whether the scope or the duration of the stop was impermissibly enlarged as a result of the dog sniff, and (2) whether the search of the vehicle was legal as incident to the stop of the driver.
Coopman argues that the requisite articulable suspicion to support an expansion of the scope of the stop to include a dog sniff for narcotics is not present because the officers did not state a particularized basis for suspecting a drug-possession crime that would support the legality of the dog sniff.
“[A] dog sniff around the exterior of a legitimately stopped motor vehicle is not a search requiring probable cause on the basis of either the Fourth Amendment or the Minnesota Constitution.” State v. Wiegand, 645 N.W.2d 125, 133 (Minn. 2002). In order to conduct a narcotics-detection dog sniff around the exterior of a motor vehicle stopped for a routine equipment violation, a law enforcement officer must have a reasonable, articulable suspicion of drug-related criminal activity. Id. at 137. It follows that the same standard is required to support a dog sniff around the exterior of a motor vehicle where, as here, the officer stopped the driver for speeding. The record shows that the officer noted that the driver had bloodshot eyes, was speaking with broken and rapid speech, and was “very fidgety.” In addition, Coopman was recognized as a person who was present during the recent execution of a search warrant on a drug lab. Based on these facts, there was reasonable, articulable suspicion to support expanding the scope of the search to include a dog sniff.
Coopman also argues that the length of his personal seizure exceeded the constitutionally permitted duration. But, for the purposes of the suppression of the evidence found in the vehicle, this is a moot point. Even if Coopman were free to leave, the issue for suppression here is not the detention of Coopman, but rather the detention of the vehicle and the driver. The question of whether the duration of the stop was unconstitutional depends on the facts surrounding the driver and the amount of time necessary to complete the investigation of the driver based on the legally permissible stop that occurred.
There is no time limit for the length of investigatory detentions. State v. Munson, 594 N.W.2d 128, 137 (Minn. 1999). But the detention of an individual stopped may continue only as long as necessary to effectuate the purpose of the stop. State v. Blacksten, 507 N.W.2d 842, 846 (Minn. 1993). Here, the K-9 unit arrived during the normal processing of the driver, and the dog sniff occurred during that processing. Because the dog sniff occurred within the time it took to resolve the basis for the initial stop, the duration of the stop was not impermissibly enlarged as a result of conducting a dog sniff. See Wiegand, 645 N.W.2d at 136 (holding permissible a dog sniff delegated to another officer when the dog sniff occurred during the time necessary to resolve the basis for the initial stop.)
Because the driver was speeding, displayed behavior consistent with a person under the influence, and an officer recognized Coopman as being involved with illegal narcotics activity, the police were within legal authority to seize the driver and conduct a dog sniff. Because the dog sniff resulted in the dog alerting to the presence of narcotics in the vehicle and because another passenger produced drugs and a pipe, the officers had probable cause to search the vehicle. Because the motor vehicle was subject to an inventory search, the consent issue raised by Coopman is irrelevant. Regardless of his consent, the motor vehicle could legally have been searched and would have been discovered. We conclude that the district court did not err in its suppression order.