may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (1996).
STATE OF MINNESOTA
IN COURT OF APPEALS
Scott Bradley Hager, petitioner,
Commissioner of Public Safety,
Filed October 14, 1997
Hennepin County District Court
File No. 9613421
Hubert H. Humphrey III, Attorney General, Joel A. Watne, Assistant Attorney General, 200 Capitol Office Building, 525 Park Street, St. Paul, MN 55103 (for Respondent)
Considered and decided by Norton, Presiding Judge, Schumacher, Judge, and Willis, Judge.
This appeal is from an order denying a petition for reinstatement of a driver's license cancellation and denial. See Minn. Stat. § 171.19 (1996). Appellant Scott Hager contends that the investigative stop that led to the cancellation and denial was not supported by a reasonable, articulable suspicion. We affirm.
The commissioner presented an affidavit from the investigating officer, Sergeant Rick Kleinschmidt, stating that he was on patrol at about 3:30 a.m. in Willmar when he was flagged down by a citizen, who told him that
a truck driver had been in the Happy Chef restaurant * * * in an intoxicated state. According to the citizen, the truck driver ate breakfast and then went out and got into his semi-tractor, which was parked in the Happy Chef parking lot, and apparently passed out over the steering wheel. The citizen was concerned that this was an unsafe situation as the truck driver may attempt to leave.
Sergeant Kleinschmidt, along with Officer Gene Schneider, went to the parking lot, where they found a truck, as described, with a driver asleep at the steering wheel. Kleinschmidt talked with a restaurant employee, who corroborated much of what the citizen informant had told him earlier. Sergeant Kleinschmidt then went to the truck and woke the driver, whom he later identified as Hager, by knocking on the door and window. Kleinschmidt stated that
[once Hager] was awake, he got out of the truck per my request and I noticed that his balance was somewhat uncertain. * * *
I began to explain to Hager why I was making contact with him and at first he was a bit indignant. While we were talking, I did notice a moderate odor of alcoholic beverage on his breath.
According to Sergeant Kleinschmidt, Hager admitted that he had had a few beers. Hager testified at the hearing, denying that he had been drinking and claiming he was only being facetious in telling the officer he had been drinking, which was a violation of the restriction on his license. The district court issued an order denying the petition for reinstatement.
Sergeant Kleinschmidt received a citizen's tip of a possibly intoxicated truck driver in the parking lot of the Happy Chef restaurant. The reasonable, articulable suspicion needed to justify an investigative stop may come from a citizen's tip if it has sufficient indicia of reliability. In re Welfare of G.M., 560 N.W.2d 687, 691 (Minn. 1997); Marben v. Department of Pub. Safety, 294 N.W.2d 697, 699 (Minn. 1980). Hager argues that because the citizen was anonymous, and there is no indication of his reliability, the officer lacked a reasonable, articulable suspicion. But, before the investigative stop, Sergeant Kleinschmidt had corroborated almost all of the information given by the citizen informant, so that by the time the stop occurred he was relying little, if at all, on the initial tip. Police corroboration of an informant's tip may compensate for any deficiencies in the reliability of the informant, even in search warrant cases where the higher standard of probable cause must be met. See, e.g., State v. McCloskey, 453 N.W.2d 700, 704 (Minn. 1990) (holding that even minimal corroboration of informant's tip is relevant to assessment of totality of circumstances).
Sergeant Kleinschmidt corroborated, by questioning the restaurant employee and by making his own observations, that the truck driver had been in the restaurant, had attracted attention for falling asleep after ordering a meal, and was sitting at the wheel of his truck, fast asleep. At that point, the citizen's conclusion that the truck driver was drunk was the only remaining information from the tip, and Kleinschmidt had a reasonable, articulable suspicion to justify a stop to determine that fact from his own observation. Sergeant Kleinschmidt's observations more than minimally corroborated the citizen informant's tip. Cf. State v. Hjelmstad, 535 N.W.2d 663, 666 (Minn. App. 1995) (driver's hesitation at intersection provided insufficient corroboration of citizen tip).
We conclude that Sergeant Kleinschmidt had enough information to form a reasonable, articulable suspicion that Hager was intoxicated and in physical control of a motor vehicle. And based on Kleinschmidt's observations after the stop, the commissioner had good cause to cancel and deny Hager's driver's license.
[ ]1The commissioner argues that the exclusionary rule should not apply to this proceeding. See Ascher v. Commissioner of Pub. Safety, 527 N.W.2d 122, 126 (Minn. App. 1995) (giving examples of when Minnesota courts have limited the application of the exclusionary rule), review denied (Minn. Mar. 21, 1995). Because we conclude that Hager's Fourth Amendment argument lacks merit, we need not address this issue.