This opinion will be unpublished and

may not be cited except as provided by

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







State of Minnesota,





Ryan Michael Fisher,




Filed August 8, 2006

Reversed and remanded

Halbrooks, Judge



Hennepin County District Court

File No. 06001198



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


Peter A. MacMillan, Michele R. Wallace, Assistant Crystal City Attorneys, MacMillan, Wallace & Athanases, P.A., 9955 59th Avenue North, Suite 125, Minneapolis, MN 55442 (for appellant)


Ryan Michael Fisher, 13315 58th Avenue North, Plymouth, MN 55441 (pro se respondent)



            Considered and decided by Toussaint, Presiding Judge; Halbrooks, Judge; and Minge, Judge.

U N P U B L I S H E D   O P I N I O N


            Appellant challenges the district court’s order dismissing the charges against respondent on the ground that the officer had reasonable, articulable suspicion to stop respondent.  We reverse and remand.


            In December 2005 in Crystal, Officer Hodge approached a stop sign behind respondent Ryan Fisher’s vehicle.  The officer observed respondent make a turn and accelerate from the intersection at a high rate of speed.  Because the officer was suspicious of this behavior, he followed respondent for a short distance.  At the next intersection, the officer again observed respondent turn and accelerate from the stop sign at a high rate of speed. 

            The officer initiated a stop of respondent’s vehicle and observed indicia of intoxication.  Following the stop and investigation, appellant State of Minnesota charged respondent with third-degree driving while impaired and third-degree alcohol concentration in excess of .10.  Respondent moved to suppress the evidence obtained as a result of the stop on the ground that the stop was unconstitutional.

            At the omnibus hearing, the officer testified to his observations and his knowledge of the Crystal ordinance prohibiting unreasonable accelerations.  The officer testified that, based on his observations of respondent, he believed that respondent was violating the ordinance and that, based on his training and experience, respondent’s driving conduct indicated that he might be under the influence.

The district court found that the officer lacked reasonable, articulable suspicion for the stop and stated that the officer was merely acting on a “hunch.”  In support of its decision, the district court stated that “it’s not clear [respondent] violated a law.”  Consequently, the district court ruled that the stop was unconstitutional and suppressed the evidence obtained as a result of the stop.  The state appeals from that order.


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 be first determined before deciding whether the suppression order was made in error.”  Id.

            Here, the district court found that the officer lacked reasonable, articulable suspicion for stopping respondent’s vehicle.  As a result, the district court suppressed evidence of intoxication obtained from the stop, which would require dismissal of the driving-while-impaired charges.  Thus, the critical-impact test has been met.

The Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution and Article I of the Minnesota Constitution provide protection against unlawful searches and seizures.  U.S. Const. amend. IV; Minn. Const. art. I, § 10.  An investigatory stop of a vehicle is a permissible seizure if it is based on a reasonable, articulable suspicion of criminal activity.  Marben v. State, Dep’t of Pub. Safety, 294 N.W.2d 697, 699 (Minn. 1980).  A district court’s determination of reasonable suspicion is a legal conclusion subject to de novo review.  State v. Lee, 585 N.W.2d 378, 383 (Minn. 1998).  We review the findings of fact that support the legal conclusion “for clear error, giving due weight to the inferences drawn from those facts by the district court.”  State v. Britton,604 N.W.2d 84, 87 (Minn. 2000) (quotation omitted).

            To establish a reasonable suspicion justifying a stop, the state must show that the officer “had a particularized and objective basis for suspecting the particular person stopped of criminal activity.”  State v. Pike, 551 N.W.2d 919, 921 (Minn. 1996) (quotation omitted).  We evaluate the particularized and objective basis by reviewing the events surrounding the stop and the totality of the circumstances.  Britton,604 N.W.2d at 87. While an officer must have a reasonable basis for suspecting that a driver committed a crime to justify a stop, an actual violation of traffic laws is not required.  Schulberg v. Comm’r of Pub. Safety, 387 N.W.2d 225, 226 (Minn. App. 1986).  But a violation of a traffic law, however insignificant, objectively justifies a limited investigatory stop.  State v. George, 557 N.W.2d 575, 578 (Minn. 1997); see also State v. Battleson, 567 N.W.2d 69, 71 (Minn. App. 1997) (concluding that officer had reasonable, articulable basis for stop after observing that driver drove partly on road and partly on shoulder, and without headlights illuminated after sunset).

            Here, the officer observed respondent accelerate rapidly from a stop sign.  In the words of the officer’s testimony, the acceleration was at “a high rate of speed.”  The officer followed respondent after observing this driving conduct and observed respondent again accelerate from a stop sign at a high rate of speed.  The officer also testified that he heard the engine of respondent’s vehicle rev loudly.  The officer stated that he believed the acceleration to be at a “dangerous rate.”  Furthermore, in his training and experience, the officer testified that this driving conduct is an indicator that the driver may be under the influence.

            Additionally, the officer testified that Crystal has an ordinance prohibiting “unreasonable acceleration” that he believed that respondent violated.  The ordinance states:

It is unlawful to start or accelerate any motor vehicle with an unnecessary exhibition of speed on a public or private way within the city limits.  Unreasonable squealing or screeching sounds emitted by the tires or the throwing of sand or gravel by the tires of the vehicle or both is prima facie evidence of unnecessary exhibition of speed.


Crystal, Minn., City Code ch. XIII, § 1305.07 (1994). 

            Because we conclude that the district court erred by determining the officer did not have reasonable, articulable suspicion to stop respondent, we reverse and remand for further proceedings.

            Reversed and remanded.