This opinion will be unpublished and

may not be cited except as provided by

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




State of Minnesota,



Andrew Dean Hellmers,


Filed May 5, 1998


Toussaint, Chief Judge

Stearns County District Court

File No. K4963471

Hubert H. Humphrey, III, Attorney General, Robert A. Stanich, Assistant Attorney General, 1400 NCL Tower, 445 Minnesota Street, St. Paul, MN 55101 (for respondent)

Roger S. Van Heel, Stearns County Attorney, 448 Administration Center, 705 Courthouse Square, St. Cloud, MN 56303-4773 (for respondent)

John M. Stuart, State Public Defender, Rochelle R. Winn, Assistant State Public Defender, Suite 600, 2829 University Avenue S.E., Minneapolis, MN 55414 (for appellant)

Considered and decided by Toussaint, Chief Judge, Foley, Judge[1] and Mulally, Judge.[2]


TOUSSAINT, Chief Judge

Appellant Andrew Dean Hellmers, was adjudicated guilty of gross misdemeanor driving after cancellation, in violation of Minn. Stat. § 171.24, subd. 5. (1996). Hellmers appeals, arguing he was unconstitutionally seized when sheriff's deputy Martin Althaus asked for his name and driver's license without suspecting him of criminal activity. Because Hellmers voluntarily came to the scene and willingly complied with Althaus' request for identification, this constituted a consensual encounter involving minimal inquiry and did not constitute a seizure, we affirm.


"[W]hen reviewing a pre-trial order suppressing evidence where the facts are not in dispute and the trial court's decision is a question of law, the reviewing court may independently review the facts and determine, as a matter of law, whether the evidence need be suppressed." State v. Othoudt, 482 N.W.2d 218, 221 (Minn. 1992) (citations omitted). "The correct approach in a case where the facts are not significantly in dispute is to simply analyze the testimony of the officers and determine if, as a matter of law, the officers were justified under the cases in doing what they did." State v. Storvick, 428 N.W.2d 55, 58 n.1 (Minn. 1988). In reviewing questions of law, a reviewing court should objectively analyze the testimony of the officer and make its independent determination. Berge v. Commissioner of Public Safety, 374 N.W.2d 730 (Minn. 1985).

Hellmers argues that Althaus' request for his name and driver's license constituted a seizure under the Minnesota Constitution, Article I, § 10. The record reveals that Hellmers voluntarily came to transport a friend from the scene after Althaus detained the friend for an alcohol related driving offense. Because of department policy, Althaus asked Hellmers for his identification to verify his identity and insure he could operate a motor vehicle.[3] He told Althaus that his driver's license was at home. Hellmers then claims that he gratuitously complied with Althaus' request for his name and date of birth. Hellmers argues, therefore, that because his presence at the scene was voluntary, his detention by Althaus constituted a seizure. Hellmer's cites us to State v. Day, 461 N.W.2d 404 (Minn. App. 1990), review denied (Minn. Dec. 20, 1990) in support of his position.

In Day, this court held that a seizure took place where an officer pulled his car next to the defendant's in a gas station and summoned him to come over to him, to provide identification and answer questions. Day, 461 N.W.2d at 406, 407. The officer in Day had observed Day look at a truck for sale in a parking lot and then followed Day for ten blocks to the gas station. Id. at 406. In concluding that a seizure had taken place, this court determined that the officer in Day was inquiring for idle curiosity. Id. at 408.

Not all contact between citizens and police constitutes a seizure. In re Welfare of E.D.J., 502 N.W.2d 779, 781 (Minn. 1993) (holding police officer's directive to person to stop constituted a "seizure" of the person, even though person did not immediately comply with order.) The test for "seizure" within the meaning of Minnesota Constitution is an objective determination based on the totality of the circumstances; whether a reasonable person in the defendant's position would have concluded that they were not free to leave. E.D.J., 502 N.W.2d at 783. However, the Minnesota Supreme Court has generally held that a reasonable person would not believe that he or she has been seized when an officer merely approaches that person in a public place and begins to ask questions. State v. Cripps, 533 N.W.2d 388, 391 (Minn. 1995) (an officer's asking for proof of age identification from bar patrons while she was on directed patrol to enforce the minimum drinking age, was a seizure under the Minnesota Constitution) (citing E.D.J., 502 N.W.2d at 782).

Under the circumstances, we conclude that a reasonable person in Hellmers' position would not have felt that they were not free to end the contact with Althaus. The record reveals that Hellmers voluntarily came to the scene at his friend's request to escort his friend from the scene, approached Althaus and complied with Althaus' request for his name and date of birth. After Althaus told Hellmers that his license was cancelled, Hellmers admitted that he knew that his license was cancelled years earlier.

We also observe that Hellmers' reliance on Day as an analogous situation is misplaced. Here, unlike Day, Althaus' inquiry was not premised on idle curiosity. Rather, Althaus' conduct was based on his desire to provide safe transportation for Hellmers friend. Under these circumstances, we cannot say that Althaus' actions would cause a reasonable person to conclude that they were not free to leave. We conclude, therefore, that the trial court did not err in concluding that Hellmers was not seized.

Because Hellmers was not subjected to a seizure, we need not address the issue of constitutionality.


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

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

[3] Minn. Stat. § 171.08 (1996) requires drivers to carry their driver's license in their immediate possession at all times when operating a motor vehicle and that they display it upon demand of a peace officer. This statute also requires that the licensee shall, upon request of any officer, write the licensee's name in the presence of the officer to determine the identity of the licensee.