This opinion will be unpublished and
may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (2004).
IN COURT OF APPEALS
State of Minnesota,
Kent Michael Hamre,
Benton County District Court
File No. K3021593
Mike Hatch, Attorney General, Tibor M. Gallo, Assistant Attorney General, 1800 Bremer Tower, 445 Minnesota Street, St. Paul, MN 55101-2134; and
Robert J. Raupp, Benton County Attorney, Courts Facility Building, 615 Highway 23, P.O. Box 189, Foley, MN 56329 (for respondent)
Todd V. Peterson, Peterson Law Office, 16 North Ninth Avenue, St. Cloud, MN 56303; and
David W. Buchin, Buchin Law Office, 16 North Ninth Avenue, St. Cloud, MN 56303 (for appellant)
Considered and decided by Stoneburner, Presiding Judge; Peterson, Judge; and Halbrooks, Judge.
Appellant challenges his convictions of first-degree DWI and giving a false name to police, arguing that he was illegally stopped, arrested without probable cause, questioned at the scene of the stop without being given a Miranda warning, and later questioned without a valid waiver of his Miranda rights. Because there was probable cause for the stop and arrest, all unwarned statements were suppressed, and appellant validly waived his Miranda rights prior to further interrogation, we affirm.
Minnesota State Trooper Richard Kitzmiller heard a dispatch concerning a personal-injury, hit-and-run accident in Sauk Rapids. Kitzmiller went to the scene and spoke with Sauk Rapids police officer Erick Norsten, who had first responded to the scene where he found one vehicle with two occupants as well as vehicle parts and a license plate from a second vehicle that had left the scene. The occupants of the vehicle at the scene were transported to the hospital by ambulance. The vehicle that left the scene was described as a dark-colored Ford Explorer with likely damage to the left-front headlight, license number HRV-317, registered to Victoria Meleska.
Kitzmiller soon spotted a dark-colored Ford Explorer with a damaged left-front headlight stopped at a stop sign at an intersection. Kitzmiller let the vehicle pull in front of him and followed, verifying that the rear plate number matched the plate found at the scene of the hit-and-run accident. Kitzmiller activated his lights to stop the vehicle, which was being driven very slowly. It took several blocks for the driver to stop. Appellant was the only occupant of the vehicle, and he started to get out of the vehicle as soon as he stopped. Kitzmiller detected a strong order of an alcoholic beverage coming from inside the vehicle as he approached. He asked appellant to step out and walk toward the squad car. Kitzmiller immediately asked appellant why he left the scene of the accident.
Kitzmiller attempted to perform a horizontal gaze nystagmus test on appellant, but stopped the test because he believed that appellant was not cooperating. Kitzmiller arrested appellant on probable cause that he was the driver involved in the hit-and-run personal-injury accident and that he was driving while impaired.
Norsten, who had arrived at the scene of the stop, took custody of appellant and transported him to the police department. Norsten read the Miranda warning to appellant, asked appellant if he understood his rights, and interrogated him. Appellant gave a false name and date of birth. He said he was staying with the person who owned the Ford Explorer that he was driving. Appellant stated he drank four or five alcoholic drinks at a bar and left the bar with three acquaintances he refused to name. He stated that he was not driving at the time of the accident but refused to name the driver. The entire interview was videotaped.
Norsten read the implied-consent advisory to appellant, who waived his right to consult with counsel and agreed to a breath test. Norsten asked appellant if he would submit to a urine test. The officer re-read the implied-consent advisory and appellant again said he did not want to speak to an attorney and agreed to take a urine test. When asked if he had used methamphetamine that night, appellant told Norsten that he had smoked it.
Norsten contacted the registered owner of the Ford Explorer. She described appellant and the clothes he was wearing that night and stated that she had given him permission to use her Ford Explorer.
Appellant was charged with four
counts of first-degree driving while impaired, giving a false name to a police
officer and driving after cancellation.
Appellant moved to dismiss, challenging the legality of the stop, the
arrest, and the voluntariness of statements he made at the scene and at the
police station. The district court ruled
that the stop and arrest were legal and that, with the exception of appellant’s
answer to Kitzmiller’s first question at the scene (suppression of which was
not opposed by the state), appellant’s statements were voluntary and
admissible. Appellant agreed to submit
the case to a court trial under State v.
Lothenbach, 296 N.W.2d 854 (
1. The stop
“In reviewing a district court’s
determinations of the legality of a limited investigatory stop, we review
questions of reasonable suspicion de novo.”
State v. Britton, 604 N.W.2d
84, 87 (
In this case the district court
found that the trooper’s observation of the non-functioning left headlight
alone was a sufficient basis for stopping appellant, and noted that the trooper
had additional suspicion based on the pre-stop match of the license plate
number to the plate found at the scene of a hit-and-run, personal-injury
accident. Appellant, however, asserts
that because of the length of time between the event and the omnibus hearing
and Kitzmiller’s failure to make a report of the stop, his testimony that he
observed the damaged headlight and matching plate number prior to the stop is unreliable
or not credible and cannot support the district court’s findings. But this court gives deference to the
district court’s credibility determinations.
Thorud v. Comm’r of Pub. Safety,
349 N.W.2d 343, 344 (
2. The arrest
“Probable cause to arrest exists
where the objective facts are such that under the circumstances a person of
ordinary care and prudence [would] entertain an honest and strong suspicion
that a crime has been committed.” State,
court has held that an officer need only have one objective indication of
intoxication to constitute probable cause to believe a person is driving while
impaired. Holtz v. Comm’r of Pub. Safety, 340 N.W.2d 363, 365 (
3. Admissibility of statements
a. Statements made at scene of stop
argues that the district court should have suppressed statements obtained at
the scene of the stop because he was in custody and was not given a Miranda warning before he was
questioned. The only at-the-scene
statement explicitly identified in the record as having been made by appellant
was suppressed without objection. The
police report submitted to the district court referred to an admission by
appellant that he had been drinking, but his DWI conviction related to
methamphetamine use, so any error in failing to suppress that statement was
b. Statements made at police department after Miranda warning
At the police department the officer
read the Miranda warning to appellant
and asked him if he understood the warning.
The district court’s determination that a waiver was knowingly,
voluntary, and intelligent generally will not be reversed unless that finding
is clearly erroneous. State v. Camacho,561 N.W.2d 160, 168 (
Appellant argues that the Miranda statement read to him at the
police department was ineffective because it was read “very quickly” and the
officer did not ask appellant whether he wanted to speak to an attorney or
answer questions after the warning was read.
The supreme court has held that a defendant is not entitled to be
warned, beyond receiving the standard Miranda
warning, that he could stop answering questions at any time during an
interrogation. State v. Jones, 293
 Appellant’s response, that he was not driving at the time of the accident, was suppressed without objection. It is the only statement identified in the record as having been made by appellant at the scene of the stop.
 Later appellant gave the name of the driver, but when told that this person would be arrested, recanted the statement.