may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (1996)
STATE OF MINNESOTA
IN COURT OF APPEALS
Orrin Gregory Haugen, petitioner,
Commissioner of Public Safety,
Filed September 16, 1997
Wabasha County District Court
File No. C9-96-585
Hubert H. Humphrey III, Attorney General, Steven H. Alpert, Assistant Attorney General, 525 Park Street, Suite 200, St. Paul, MN 55103-2106 (for respondent)
Considered and decided by Schumacher, Presiding Judge, Norton, Judge, and Willis, Judge.
Appellant Orrin Haugen challenges the district court's order sustaining the revocation of his driver's license under the implied consent law, arguing the arresting officer conducted an unconstitutional investigatory stop. We affirm, holding the stop was based on the requisite reasonable and articulable suspicion that Haugen was driving in violation of the traffic laws.
To conduct an investigative stop, a law enforcement officer must have a "particular and objective basis for suspecting" that the subject is engaged in criminal activity. State v. Johnson, 444 N.W.2d 824, 825 (Minn. 1989) (citing United States v. Cortez, 449 U.S. 411, 417-18, 101 S.Ct. 690, 695 (1981)). In determining the validity of an investigative stop, the courts must consider the totality of the circumstances, giving due regard to an officer's training and experience in law enforcement. State v. Kvam, 336 N.W.2d 525, 528 (Minn. 1983) (citing Cortez, 449 U.S. at 418, 101 S.Ct. at 695).
An officer may conduct an investigative stop upon observing a violation of the traffic laws, even if the infraction is insignificant. George, 557 N.W.2d at 578. Under Minnesota law, the rear license plate of a motor vehicle must be illuminated with a white light and legible from a distance of 50 feet. Minn. Stat. § 169.50, subd. 2 (1996). A violation of this traffic law would provide the requisite reasonable and articulable basis for a traffic stop.
At the implied consent hearing, Deputy Novak testified that when he encountered Haugen's pickup truck, he did not observe any plate lights and could not read the license plate from a distance of 50 feet. Based on his observations, Deputy Novak decided to conduct an investigatory stop. Deputy Novak followed Haugen along a seven-mile stretch of highway before initiating the stop as a safety measure, testifying that he prefers to stop individuals closer to town rather than on the highway. The district court found Deputy Novak's testimony credible. See Minn. R. Civ. P. 52.01 (on review "* * * due regard shall be given to the opportunity of the trial court to judge the credibility of the witnesses."). From this testimony, the district court could properly conclude that the stop was based on the requisite reasonable and articulable suspicion that Haugen was driving in violation of the traffic laws.