This opinion will
be unpublished and
may not be cited except as
Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (2004).
COURT OF APPEALS
State of Minnesota,
Nicholas Ross Anderson,
July 18, 2006
Reversed and remanded
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;
Dean S. Grau, 4910 IDS Center, 80 South Eighth Street, Minneapolis,
Considered and decided by Worke,
Presiding Judge; Kalitowski, Judge; and Hudson, Judge.
N P U B L I S H E D O P I N I O N
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.
E C I S I O N
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.
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,
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).
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,
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).
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).
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
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.