may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (1996).
STATE OF MINNESOTA
IN COURT OF APPEALS
State of Minnesota,
City of Burnsville,
Robert Michael Mills,
Filed August 5, 1997
Dakota County District Court
File No. T2-96-59574
Tristam O. Hage, The Colonnade, Suite 970, 5500 Wayzata Boulevard, Minneapolis, MN 55416 (for Respondent)
Considered and decided by Amundson, Presiding Judge, Norton, Judge, and Peterson, Judge.
The district court dismissed DUI charges against respondent Robert Michael Mills, finding that the arresting officer's initial stop of Mills was invalid. We affirm.
Because Mills's tires spun and threw up loose sand, Officer Enos followed Mills onto the freeway and subsequently stopped Mills's vehicle. As a result of the stop, Mills was charged with driving under the influence, driving with an alcohol concentration of .10 or more, and driving with an alcohol concentration of .10 or more within two hours of driving. The district court, in its order dated December 10, 1996, dismissed the charges against Mills, stating that the stop of Mills was invalid and the evidence obtained as a result of the stop is inadmissible. This appeal followed.
Police may make investigative stops of vehicles only if they have 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) (quoting United States v. Cortez, 449 U.S. 411, 417-18, 101 S.Ct. 690, 695 (1981)). The officer need not observe an actual violation of the law, but rather the officer must show that the stop was not the product of "mere whim, caprice or idle curiosity." Id. If the officer cannot articulate a particularized and objective basis for the stop, any evidence that is seized from the stop is inadmissible. Matter of Welfare of E.D.J., 502 N.W.2d 779, 783 (Minn. 1993).
Appellate courts are limited to determining whether the district court's findings of fact regarding the stop are clearly erroneous. See Hubbs v. Leach, 355 N.W.2d 470, 473 (Minn. App. 1984), review denied (Jan. 2, 1985). This court must give due regard to the district court's judgment concerning the credibility of the witnesses. Id. There must be a "definite and firm conviction that a mistake has been made" for this court to conclude that the district court's findings are clearly erroneous. Id. (citation omitted).
Here, the district court found that Officer Enos failed to state a "particularized and objective basis" for suspecting Mills of criminal activity. Officer Enos's sole basis for his stop was the spinning of Mills's tires that incidently kicked up sand and gravel. This finding suggests that the district court accepted Mills's version of the facts regarding the significance of the spinning of Mills's tires that kicked up the sand and gravel. Because there is no basis to disturb the district court's assessment of credibility, and its findings of fact are not clearly erroneous, the district court was justified in dismissing the charges against Mills. See Minn.R.Civ.P. 52.01 (trial court's findings will not be reversed unless clearly erroneous, and due regard must be given to the trial court's opportunity to judge the credibility of the witnesses).
Judge Roland C. Amundson