This opinion will be unpublished and

may not be cited except as provided by

Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (2004).








State of Minnesota,


Bonny Sue Bishop,



Filed September 6, 2005


Wright, Judge



Mower County District Court

File No. K5-03-363



John M. Stuart, State Public Defender, Ann McCaughan, Assistant State Public Defender, 2221 University Avenue Southeast, Suite 425, Minneapolis, MN  55414 (for appellant)


Mike Hatch, Attorney General, 1800 NCL Tower, 445 Minnesota Street, St. Paul, MN  55101; and


Lawrence E. Maus, Austin City Attorney, Jeffrey M. Kritzer, Assistant City Attorney, 108 North Main Street, Austin, MN  55912 (for respondent)



            Considered and decided by Wright, Presiding Judge; Toussaint, Chief Judge; and Schumacher, Judge.

U N P U B L I S H E D  O P I N I O N



Appellant asserts that, because her right turn did not constitute a traffic offense, an officer lacked reasonable, articulable suspicion on which to base an investigatory stop.  We affirm.



On the evening of March 17, 2003, a bartender contacted the Austin Police Department and advised that, after engaging in suspicious activity at the bar, two women had departed in a maroon vehicle.  The record from the omnibus hearing does not disclose the nature of the suspicious activity reported.

A dispatcher relayed the bartender’s tip to Officer Amy Morgan, who was on patrol in the area.  While proceeding northbound on First Street Northeast, Officer Morgan observed two women in a maroon vehicle heading southbound.  Officer Morgan turned around and proceeded southbound behind the maroon vehicle.  As the vehicles stopped at the intersection of First Street and Oakland Avenue, the maroon vehicle signaled a right turn and proceeded westbound onto Oakland Avenue.

West of this intersection, Oakland Avenue has two westbound lanes.  The left lane is for through traffic proceeding westbound.  The right lane continues for half a block and then becomes a right-turn-only lane.  When the maroon vehicle turned right onto Oakland Avenue, it turned directly into the left lane without first occupying the right lane.

Officer Morgan stopped the maroon vehicle for an improper lane change and subsequently determined that the driver, appellant Bonny Bishop, was driving while impaired.  Following a trial on stipulated facts in accordance with Minn. R. Crim. P. 26.01, subd. 3, and the procedure set forth in State v. Lothenbach, 296 N.W.2d 854 (Minn. 1980), Bishop was convicted of third-degree driving while impaired, in violation of Minn. Stat. §§ 169A.20, .26 (2002).  This appeal followed.



Bishop argues that, because her right turn did not constitute a traffic offense, Officer Morgan lacked reasonable, articulable suspicion to conduct an investigatory stop.  Whether an investigatory stop is supported by reasonable, articulable suspicion is a question of law, which we review de novo.  State v. Britton, 604 N.W.2d 84, 87 (Minn. 2000).

            The Minnesota and United States constitutions bar the warrantless seizure of a person except under limited exceptions.  State v. Pike, 551 N.W.2d 919, 921 (Minn. 1996).  One such exception exists when an officer has specific and articulable facts and inferences that support the reasonable suspicion that a person is or will be engaged in criminal activity.  Britton, 604 N.W.2d at 87.  An officer with such reasonable suspicion may conduct an investigatory stop.  Id.  An officer’s hunch or caprice will not constitute reasonable, articulable suspicion.  State v. George, 577 N.W.2d 575, 578 (Minn. 1997); Pike, 551 N.W.2d at 921. 

An officer’s observation of a traffic offense supplies reasonable, articulable suspicion on which an investigatory stop of a vehicle can be based.  George, 557 N.W.2d at 578.  When determining whether a driver has committed a traffic offense, only an objective determination of the legality of the driver’s conduct is relevant.  State v. Anderson, 683 N.W.2d 818, 823 (Minn. 2004).  The subjective intent of the officer or that officer’s mistaken interpretation of the traffic laws cannot form the basis to justify a traffic stop.  Id.

            Section 169.19 provides in relevant part:  “The driver of a vehicle intending to turn at an intersection shall do so as follows: . . .  Both the approach for a right turn and a right turn shall be made as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway.”  Minn. Stat. § 169.19, subd. 1(a) (2002).  The definition of “roadway” includes “that portion of a highway improved, designed, or ordinarily used for vehicular travel, exclusive of the sidewalk or shoulder.”  Minn. Stat. § 169.01, subd. 31 (2002).

            When construing the traffic statute at issue here, our object is to give effect to the intention of the legislature.  Minn. Stat. § 645.16 (2002); State v. Koenig, 666 N.W.2d 366, 372 (Minn. 2003).  When the language of a statute is unambiguous, we apply its plain meaning without resorting to other principles of statutory construction.  Minn. Stat. § 645.16; Am. Tower, L.P. v. City of Grant, 636 N.W.2d 309, 312 (Minn. 2001).

            West of the intersection with First Street, the right lane of Oakland Avenue turns into a right-turn-only lane halfway down the block.  The parties do not dispute that this lane is “ordinarily used for vehicular travel” and constitutes part of the roadway.  Because Bishop went into the left lane when she executed her right turn, she did not proceed “as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway.” 

            We reject Bishop’s contention that, because part of the right lane was designated as a right-turn-only lane, it was not practicable for her to execute a turn into this lane.  This right-turn designation does not arise until halfway down the block, and the record does not establish that Bishop was otherwise prevented from occupying the right lane.  Furthermore, the plain meaning of “roadway” incorporates any portion of a street ordinarily used for vehicular travel.  See Duncan v. Comm’r of Pub. Safety, 683 N.W.2d 852, 854-55 (Minn. App. 2004) (holding that “roadway” excluded shoulder area outside fog line).  Bishop’s driving conduct violated Minn. Stat. § 169.19, subd. 1(a), and supplied reasonable, articulable suspicion for Officer Morgan to conduct an investigatory stop.  Accordingly, the investigative stop was legally justified.