This opinion will be unpublished and

may not be cited except as provided by

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






State of Minnesota,





Nicholas Ross Anderson,



Filed July 18, 2006

Reversed and remanded

Worke, Judge


Chisago County District Court

File No. 13-CR-05-112


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


Katherine M. Johnson, Chisago County Attorney, Jessica L. Stott, Assistant County Attorney, 313 North Main Street, Room 373, Center City, MN 55012 (for appellant)


Chad P. Nelson, P. O. Box 773, 12705 Lake Boulevard, Lindstrom, MN 55045; and


Dean S. Grau, 4910 IDS Center, 80 South Eighth Street, Minneapolis, MN 55402 (for respondent)


            Considered and decided by Worke, Presiding Judge; Kalitowski, Judge; and Hudson, Judge.

U N P U B L I S H E D   O P I N I O N

WORKE, Judge

            On appeal from a pretrial order dismissing the complaint against respondent charging him with two counts of third-degree DWI, the state argues that the district court clearly erred in ruling that the police officer did not have reasonable, articulable suspicion to stop respondent’s car.  Because the totality of the circumstances supports the investigatory stop of respondent’s vehicle, we reverse and remand for further proceedings. 


If the state appeals from a pretrial suppression order, it “must ‘clearly and unequivocally’ show both that the [district] court’s order will have a ‘critical impact’ on the state’s ability to prosecute the defendant successfully and that the order constituted error.”  State v. Scott, 584 N.W.2d 412, 416 (Minn. 1998) (citing State v. Zanter, 535 N.W.2d 624, 630 (Minn. 1995)).  “[T]he critical impact of the suppression must first be determined before deciding whether the suppression order was made in error.”  Id.   Here, respondent Nicholas Ross Anderson was charged with third-degree operating a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol, in violation of Minn. Stat. § 169A.20, subd. 1(1) (2004); third-degree operating a motor vehicle with an alcohol concentration of .10 or more within two hours, in violation of Minn. Stat. § 169A.20, subd. 1(5) (2004); and possession of a small amount of marijuana, in violation of Minn. Stat. § 152.027, subd. 4 (2004).  Following a contested omnibus hearing, the district court dismissed the charges after finding that the officer lacked a sufficient basis—reasonable, articulable suspicion—for stopping respondent’s vehicle; thus, the critical-impact test has been met.

We must next consider whether the district court’s ruling was erroneous.  We review de novo a district court’s determination of whether there was reasonable suspicion of unlawful activity to justify a limited investigatory stop.  State v. Britton, 604 N.W.2d 84, 87 (Minn. 2000).  In doing so, we review the district court’s findings of fact for clear error and give due weight to inferences drawn from those facts found by the district court.  State v. Lee, 585 N.W.2d 378, 383 (Minn. 1998).  We also defer to the district court’s assessment of witness credibility.  State v. Miller, 659 N.W.2d 275, 279 (Minn. App. 2003), review denied (Minn. July 15, 2003).  The district court’s findings of fact in support of its suppression ruling must be sufficiently detailed to permit us to ascertain the basis for the district court’s ruling.  State v. Rainey, 303 Minn. 550, 550, 226 N.W.2d 919, 921 (1975).

“A brief investigatory stop requires only reasonable suspicion of criminal activity, rather than probable cause.”  State v. Pike, 551 N.W.2d 919, 921 (Minn. 1996).  An investigatory stop is valid when the officer who initiated the stop articulates a “‘particularized and objective basis for suspecting the particular persons stopped of criminal activity.’”  State v. Kvam, 336 N.W.2d 525, 528 (Minn. 1983) (quoting United States v. Cortez, 449 U.S. 411, 417-18, 101 S. Ct. 690, 695 (1981)).  “In applying this standard, the court should consider the totality of the circumstances and should remember that trained law-enforcement officers are permitted to make ‘inferences and deductions that might well elude an untrained person.’”  Id. (quoting Cortez, 449 U.S. at 418, 101 S. Ct. at 695).

An officer need not observe a violation of the traffic laws to stop a vehicle; rather, an investigatory stop is valid if it “was not the product of mere whim, caprice or idle curiosity, but was based upon ‘specific and articulable facts which, taken together with rational inferences from those facts, reasonably warrant that intrusion.’”  Pike, 551 N.W.2d at 921-22 (quoting Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1, 21-22, 88 S. Ct. 1868, 1880 (1968)).  An investigatory stop may not be unconstitutional if a valid basis for the stop existed, even if the officer’s decision was made in error.  State v. Pleas, 329 N.W.2d 329, 332 (Minn. 1983).  Thus, even if an officer mistakenly stops the wrong vehicle after observing unlawful driving activity, the stop may still be valid if an objectively reasonable basis for the stop existed.  State v. Johnson, 392 N.W.2d 865, 687 (Minn. App. 1986).

Further, an officer’s reliance on an anonymous tip, “if reliable, may provide the requisite reasonable suspicion to justify an investigative stop.”  State v. Pealer, 488 N.W.2d 3, 4 (Minn. App. 1992).  “Ordinarily, uncorroborated anonymous tips provided by private citizens are sufficient to justify an investigative stop because the reliability of the tipster may be presumed.”  State v. Balenger, 667 N.W.2d 133, 138 (Minn. App. 2003), review denied (Minn. Oct. 21, 2003).  There are numerous Minnesota cases that support the reliability of an informant when the informant identifies himself.  See, e.g., Magnuson v. Comm’r of Pub. Safety, 703 N.W.2d 557, 560-61 (Minn. App. 2005) (finding an informant’s tip adequate to support an investigative stop when the informant identified herself and provided the vehicle’s description and personal observations to show that the defendant was “definitely drunk”).  Here, a 911 caller reported that a black Mazda was involved in a hit-and-run accident on Highway 8 and a second 911 caller reported that a black Mazda was swerving all over the road on Highway 8 in the same vicinity as indicated in the first report.  Both callers also reported the same license-plate number of the vehicle.  While neither informant was identified by name, their status as citizen informants supports their reliability and has been found sufficient in other cases, in conjunction with information of criminal activity, to support an investigatory stop.  See, e.g., Jobe v. Comm’r of Pub. Safety, 609 N.W.2d 919, 920-21 (Minn. App. 2000) (upholding investigatory stop when an unidentified 911 caller reported a “drunk” “swerving around on the road” and provided the description and license-plate number of the truck).  Therefore, the investigatory stop in this case appears to be properly supported by the presumed reliability of the informants as well as the substance of the information provided by the informants.

            Further, the totality of the circumstances supports the officer’s investigatory stop of respondent’s vehicle.  The officer, following up on the 911 calls, ran the license-plate number and proceeded to the registered owner’s address.  While standing in the driveway of the residence, the officer heard a vehicle accelerate and squeal its tires.  When the vehicle came into view, the officer observed that it matched the description and license plate number provided by the 911 callers.  The driver of the vehicle continued past the residence after making eye contact with the officer who was motioning for the driver to pull over.  The officer then entered his squad car, activated his emergency lights, and followed the vehicle.  When the driver ignored the emergency lights, the officer activated his emergency siren.  The driver, ignoring the emergency lights and siren, turned down a cul-de-sac.  The officer was then able to stop the vehicle as it was trying to leave the cul-de-sac.   The driver was identified as respondent.  While speaking with respondent, the officer noted that respondent’s speech was slurred, his eyes were bloodshot and glassy, and the officer detected the odor of an alcoholic beverage on respondent’s breath.  While the officer did not observe any violations of the traffic laws—the hit-and-run accident, “swerving all over the road”—the stop “was not the product of mere whim, caprice, or idle curiosity, but was based upon specific and articulable facts that, taken together with rational inferences from those facts, reasonably warrant that intrusion.”  See Pike, 551 N.W.2d at 921-22 (quotation omitted). Under the totality of the circumstances, a reasonable, articulable suspicion existed for stopping respondent’s vehicle.  The district court’s conclusion that there was an insufficient basis for stopping respondent’s vehicle is therefore reversed, and the matter is remanded for further proceedings.      

            Reversed and remanded.