This opinion will be unpublished and

may not be cited except as provided by

Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (1994).




State of Minnesota,



Eric Dale Kolstad,


Filed October 29, 1996

Reversed and remanded

Toussaint, Chief Judge

Anoka County District Court

File No. K39412522

Hubert H. Humphrey, III, Attorney General, Suite 1400, NCL Tower, 445 Minnesota St., St. Paul, MN 55101 (for appellant)

Carl J. Newquist, Newquist and Ekstrum, 6401 University Ave. N.E., Suite 301, Fridley, MN 55432 (for appellant)

Robert J. Shane, 700 Lumber Exchange Bldg., 10 South Fifth Street, Minneapolis, MN 55402 (for respondent)

Considered and decided by Amundson, Presiding Judge, Toussaint, Chief Judge, and Foley, Judge.[*]


TOUSSAINT, Chief Judge

Respondent Eric Kolstad was charged with driving under the influence of alcohol in violation of Minn. Stat. § 169.121 (1994) and driving without a license in violation of Minn. Stat. § 171.02 (1994). At a contested omnibus hearing, the district court found that the officer did not have a specific and articulable reason for stopping Kolstad's vehicle, so all evidence gathered subsequent to the stop had to be suppressed. The district court then dismissed all charges against Kolstad. Because we find that the district court improperly concluded that the stop was unlawful, we reverse and remand.


On appeal, this court will reverse a pretrial ruling

only if the state demonstrates clearly and unequivocally, first, that the district court erred in its judgment and, second, that unless reversed, the error will have a critical impact on the outcome of the trial.

State v. Joon Kyu Kim, 398 N.W.2d 544, 547 (Minn. 1987)(citing State v. Wetter, 262 N.W.2d 157 (Minn. 1977). The parties agree that the district court's ruling critically impacts the case, so the only issue is whether the district court erred in concluding that the stop was unlawful.

The Fourth Amendment requires that an officer have specific and articulable facts which, taken together with rational inferences from those facts, reasonably warrant the intrusion of stopping a person suspected of criminal activity or a motor vehicle violation. State v. McKinley, 305 Minn. 297, 302, 232 N.W.2d 906, 910 (1975).

On October 1, 1994, Fridley police officer Jon Burnham ran a mobile data terminal (MDT) check on the vehicle in front of him. The MDT indicated that (1) Kolstad was the vehicle's registered owner, (2) his driving privileges were expired, and (3) Hennepin County had issued a warrant for his arrest. Burnham noted that the physical description of Kolstad provided on the MDT was not inconsistent with that of the person driving the vehicle. Burnham made an investigatory stop and discovered that the driver was Kolstad.

During the stop, Burnham suspected that Kolstad was under the influence of alcohol. Burnham asked Kolstad to perform field sobriety tests. Kolstad failed. Burnham invoked the implied consent law, and Kolstad submitted to a breath test. The test indicated a blood alcohol level of .15.

Kolstad was charged with driving under the influence and driving without a license. At a contested omnibus hearing, Kolstad challenged the investigatory stop, arguing that Burnham did not have a specific and articulable basis for stopping his vehicle. Burnham did not appear at the hearing, but the parties stipulated to the following facts:

(a) Burnham was unable to make a facial identification of the driver;

(b) Burnham was unable to confirm the height, weight, or age of the driver;

(c) Burnham was able to observe only the back of the driver's head.

Based on the stipulations, the district court concluded that Burnham did not have sufficient information to conclude that the driver of the vehicle resembled the MDT's description of Kolstad, so he lacked a specific and articulable basis for stopping the car. The holding in State v. Pike, 551 N.W.2d 919 (Minn. 1996) is dispositive in this case. In Pike, an officer stopped a vehicle based on a suspicion that the registered owner, whose driving privileges had been revoked, was driving the car and because the vehicle was driving slowly on the highway. The district court concluded that the officer was unable to articulate a specific reason for stopping the vehicle. This court affirmed and the Minnesota Supreme Court reversed. The Minnesota Supreme Court held:

When an officer observes a vehicle being driven, it is rational for him or her to infer that the owner of the vehicle is the current operator. * * * Thus, we hold that the 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 an officer observes the vehicle being driven.

Id. at 922.

The district court incorrectly concluded that the investigatory stop was not supported by sufficient articulable facts to be lawful. Based upon the Minnesota Supreme Court's decision in Pike, we conclude that Officer Burnham had a reasonable and articulable suspicion of criminal activity upon discovery that Kolstad did not have a valid driver's license and was the registered owner of a car that was being operated.

Reversed and remanded.

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