This opinion will be unpublished and

may not be cited except as provided by

Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (2006).







State of Minnesota,





Michael Scott Larson,




Filed April 17, 2007

Reversed and remanded
Klaphake, Judge


Scott County District Court

File No. CR-05-26969


Lori Swanson, Attorney General, 1800 Bremer Tower, 445 Minnesota Street, St. Paul, MN  55101-2134; and


Patrick J. Ciliberto, Scott County Attorney, Todd P. Zettler, Special Assistant County Attorney, Scott County Justice Center, JC 340, 200 4th Avenue West, Shakopee, MN  55379 (for appellant)


John M. Stuart, State Public Defender, Mark D. Nyvold, Assistant State Public Defender, 2221 University Avenue Southeast, Suite 425, Minneapolis, MN  55414 (for respondent)


            Considered and decided by Klaphake, Presiding Judge, Shumaker, Judge, and Collins, Judge.*

U N P U B L I S H E D   O P I N I O N


            The State of Minnesota appeals from a pretrial order suppressing evidence and dismissing charges of gross misdemeanor driving after cancellation and failure to provide proof of insurance, which were filed against respondent Michael Scott Larson.  The state argues that the district court improperly gave more credit to respondent’s live testimony than to the complaint and police report submitted by the state, and further argues that the district court erred in concluding that the officer lacked a reasonable, articulable suspicion to make an investigative stop.

            Because the record shows that the officer knew that the registered owner of the vehicle had a revoked license and that the description of the driver matched that of the registered owner, the officer had a reasonable suspicion of criminal activity that would support a limited investigatory stop of the vehicle.  We therefore reverse the district court’s dismissal of the charges against respondent and remand the matter for further proceedings.


            At approximately midnight on December 8, 2005, Jordan Police Officer Dale Larson was on patrol when he ran a routine license plate check on a vehicle that he claimed had only one working headlight.  The officer discovered that the license of the registered owner had been cancelled as inimical to public safety.  In his report, the officer noted that the registered owner’s description matched that of the person driving the vehicle.

            After the officer stopped the vehicle, he discovered that the driver was respondent, who was not the registered owner of the vehicle.  The officer also discovered that respondent’s driver’s license had been cancelled as inimical to public safety.  Respondent was tab charged with gross misdemeanor driving after cancellation and with having no proof of insurance.

            On August 15, 2006, an omnibus hearing was held at which the state submitted into evidence the police reports and the complaint.  The state called no witnesses, and respondent did not object to admission of the state’s evidence.

            Respondent testified that the headlight on the vehicle he was driving was working on the night he was stopped, because he could see the reflection of both headlights in the rear of the truck that had been called to tow the vehicle away.  Respondent also testified that he was not the registered owner of the vehicle, but that he was not sure who the registered owner was at the time of the stop.

            By order filed August 18, 2006, the district court granted respondent’s suppression motion and dismissed the case.  The court found that respondent “testified that his headlights were working and that he was not the registered owner of the vehicle, and thus, by implication, the officer should not have stopped him.”  The court further concluded that “live testimony is more convincing” and that the officer failed to articulate a reasonable basis to stop the vehicle.


            On appeal, we review de novo a district court’s determinations involving the legality of a limited investigatory stop.  State v. Britton, 604 N.W.2d 84, 87 (Minn. 2000).  “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).  “[P]olice must only show that the stop 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.’”  Id. at 921-22 (quoting Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1, 21, 88 S. Ct. 1868, 1880 (1968)).

            In Pike, 551 N.W.2d at 922, the supreme court held that “knowledge that the owner of a vehicle has a revoked license is enough to form the basis of a ‘reasonable suspicion of criminal activity’ when the officer observes the vehicle being driven.”  Here, the police report and complaint establish that the officer stopped the vehicle after a license plate check revealed that the registered owner had a revoked driver’s license.[1]  Under Pike, the officer’s knowledge that the registered owner had a revoked license and the officer’s observation that the vehicle was being driven were enough to support the stop.  Id.  The district court therefore erred in concluding otherwise.

            Respondent argues that the district court could not have ruled as it did unless it also rejected or disbelieved the officer’s statement in his report that the “driver matched the registered owner[’]s description.”  But respondent did not object to the admission of the complaint and police reports, and these documents are admissible as reliable hearsay under Minn. R. Crim. P. 11.03.  In addition, respondent did not offer any evidence as to the identity of the registered owner, nor did he present evidence that his description did not match that of the registered owner.  Without some conflicting evidence on the issue of whether the registered owner’s appearance matched that of respondent, we cannot assume that the district court rejected as not credible the statement in the officer’s report that the driver matched the description of the registered owner.

            We therefore conclude that the limited investigatory stop in this case was supported by a reasonable suspicion on the part of the officer that the vehicle was being driven by a person with a cancelled driver’s license.  The district court’s order to the contrary is reversed and the matter is remanded for further proceedings.

            Reversed and remanded.

* Retired judge of the district court, serving as judge of the Minnesota Court of Appeals by appointment pursuant to Minn. Const. art. VI, § 10.

[1]  While the officer’s report also states that one of the headlights on the vehicle was not operating, the district court chose to credit respondent’s testimony at the omnibus hearing that the headlights were both working and operating when the vehicle was towed.  See State v. Miller, 659 N.W.2d 275, 279 (Minn. App. 2003) (appellate court must defer to district court’s credibility determinations involving weight and believability of witness testimony), review denied (Minn. July 15, 2003).  Because the district court rejected the officer’s claim of an equipment violation, it should not be considered as a basis for the stop.