This opinion will be unpublished and

may not be cited except as provided by

Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (1996).




State of Minnesota,



Scott Allen Gilbertson,


Filed December 10, 1996


Huspeni, Judge

Blue Earth County District Court

File No. K9951286

John M. Stuart, State Public Defender, Susan K. Maki, Assistant State Public Defender, 2829 University Avenue Southeast, Suite 600, Minneapolis, MN 55414 (for Appellant)

Hubert H. Humphrey III, Attorney General, Catherine M. Keane, Assistant Attorney General, 1400 NCL Tower, 445 Minnesota Street, St. Paul, MN 55101 (for Respondent)

Ross Arneson, Blue Earth County Attorney, 410 South Fifth Street, P.O. Box 3129, Mankato, MN 56002 (for Respondent)

Considered and decided by Lansing, Presiding Judge, Huspeni, Judge, and Norton, Judge.



Scott Allen Gilbertson, appellant, contests his convictions for driving under the influence of alcohol, giving false information to a police officer, and driving after revocation. Appellant challenges the district court's denial of his motion to suppress evidence obtained from the stop of his vehicle. Because the anonymous tip received by the officer did not provide a reasonable suspicion to justify the stop, we reverse.


Law enforcement stopped appellant's vehicle after receiving anonymous reports of a possible drunk driver in the area. The officer did not observe any erratic driving or other violations. As relayed by the dispatcher, the first report provided the name of the driver as well as a description of his vehicle, including the fact that he would be pulling a boat. The second report advised where the vehicle would probably be located and the route the driver would probably take home later that evening. No information was received regarding identity of the person making the report.


An investigative stop of a vehicle is justified where the police officer has "specific and articulable suspicion of a violation." Marben v. State, 294 N.W.2d 697, 699 (Minn. 1980). An anonymous tip, if reliable, may provide the requisite reasonable suspicion to justify a stop. Olson v. Commissioner of Pub. Safety, 371 N.W.2d 552, 556 (Minn. 1985).

Appellant contends the district court erred in denying his motion to suppress because the information received from the anonymous tipster did not provide a reasonable suspicion to stop his vehicle. Specifically, appellant argues that the record does not establish that the tipster's information was reliable. We agree.

In Olson, a dispatcher notified police about an anonymous tip concerning a "possibly * * * drunken driver." 371 N.W.2d at 553. The caller gave the vehicle's make, license plate number, location, and the direction it was traveling. Id. The police located and followed the car for about a half mile, but did not notice any erratic driving. Id. Nevertheless, the police stopped the vehicle and determined that the driver drove under the influence of alcohol. Id. The supreme court, concluding that the facts did not support a reasonable suspicion of criminal activity, stated:

[W]e know nothing about the informant and nothing about what the informant saw which led him or her to believe the Datsun driver was "possibly" drunk. * * * [i]f the stop is to be justified, it must be on the factual basis of the tip itself. The tip must have indicia of reliability. * * * If the police chose to stop on the basis of the tip alone, the anonymous caller must provide at least some specific and articulable facts to support the bare allegation of criminal activity. * * * On this record, there is a complete lack of even the most minimal indicia of reliability for the anonymous tip. If police cannot stop a car on the highway on the basis of mere whim, neither can they stop on the basis, for all they know, of the mere whim of an anonymous caller.

Id. at 556 (emphasis added).

As in Olson, the facts in the instant case do not provide a basis for law enforcement to have known about the caller or what events or observations led the caller to believe appellant was driving while intoxicated. The facts as stipulated only demonstrate that the tipster stated that the driver was "possibly drunk." While the tipster provided specific details about the vehicle, the name of the driver, the location and possible destination, and the police officer's observations corroborated these facts, there is no information on how the tipster knew of the driver's alleged intoxication.

In State v. Hjelmstad, 535 N.W.2d 663, 664 (Minn. App. 1995), a dispatcher advised a police officer "to look out for" an intoxicated driver in an old green Chevy pickup with a topper and North Dakota license plates leaving the St. John's area headed east, possibly en route to St. Cloud. After receiving the report, the officer found the truck and stopped the driver. Id. This court reversed the district court's denial of the driver's motion to suppress and held the stop invalid. Id. at 663.

In Hjelmstad, we pointed out the fundamental importance of the credibility of a tipster's information. See id. at 666. The officer stopping Hjelmstad did not speak personally with the informant, and the record contains no further information regarding the informant's location or other facts on which the officer verified the informant's knowledge. Id. at 665. While the officer's observations corroborated the car make, license plate, and other information provided by the tipster, the record in Hjelmstad, as in Olson, contained "no evidence about the informant and what led him/her to believe Hjelmstad was intoxicated." Id. at 666. Thus, as in Olson, the information from the tip did not form a sufficient basis for the stop.

In Hjelmstad, we rejected the state's argument, based on the analysis from Alabama v. White, 496 U.S. 325, 110 S. Ct. 2412 (1990), that because the anonymous caller provided the dispatcher with a possible destination, this indicated the caller could predict Hjelmstad's "future behavior." 535 N.W.2d at 666. Because the caller did not provide details of Hjelmstad's future itinerary, but merely stated that the driver was "possibly" going to St. Cloud, the statements did not demonstrate personal knowledge of Hjelmstad's driving privileges and his state of intoxication. Id.

While the facts in the instant case provided detail on the type of vehicle, identification of the driver, and possible destination, the record does not demonstrate that the tipster had any personal knowledge of the driver's state of intoxication. Moreover, the facts about a person's home address and probable route home from a certain location would not be difficult to ascertain. See State v. Albrecht, 465 N.W.2d 107, 109 (Minn. App. 1991) (while corroboration of facts can be relevant factor in making probable cause determination, tip may be inadequate to support finding of probable cause when the facts may be easily obtained).

As the supreme court stated in Olson:

It would have been a simple matter for the dispatcher to have elicited some minimal specific and articulable facts from the anonymous caller to support the caller's bare assertion of a possible drunk driver on the road. This, however, was not done, or if it was done, the state has failed to show that it was. The fourth amendment stands as a protection against unreasonable intrusions on an individual's privacy and personal security, and if this protection is to have an efficacy, it applies here.

371 N.W.2d at 556, quoted in Hjelmstad, 535 N.W.2d at 667 (emphasis added).

Likewise, it would have been a simple matter for the dispatcher in the instant case to have elicited some minimal facts from the caller to support the assertion of a possible drunk driver. Because the record does not indicate that law enforcement had information as to how the tipster reached his/her conclusion about the driver's intoxication level, we conclude that the district court erred in determining that the tip provided specific articulable facts to support a stop.

Further, this is not a case where the caller could be identified and ultimately held responsible for the tip. See, e.g., City of Minnetonka v. Shepherd, 420 N.W.2d 887 (Minn. 1988) (upholding stop where caller identified himself as gas station attendant and could therefore be held accountable for his report); State v. Davis, 393 N.W.2d 179 (Minn. 1986) (upholding stop where there was face-to-face confrontation between tipster and officer); State v. Pealer, 488 N.W.2d 3 (Minn. App. 1992) (upholding stop where known confidential informant described vehicle, gave name of driver, and placed it at specific location); Playle v. Commissioner of Pub. Safety, 439 N.W.2d 747 (Minn. App. 1989) (upholding stop where caller was identified as employee of Burger King, and there was reason to believe he based his conclusions on personal observations).

Because the record does not indicate that the police knew the identity of the tipster, could have traced the tipster, or otherwise held the tipster accountable in any way for the allegations, we cannot conclude that the anonymous caller's tip provided a justification for stopping appellant's vehicle.