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,
David John White,
Filed December 29, 1998
Ramsey County District Court
File No. K797600955
Thomas R. Hughes, Hughes & Costello, 1230 Landmark Towers, 345 St. Peter Street, St. Paul, MN 55102 (for respondent)
James H. Leviton, 326 Union Plaza, 333 Washington Avenue North, Minneapolis, MN 55401 (for appellant)
Considered and decided by Harten, Presiding Judge, Schumacher, Judge, and Peterson, Judge.
David John White appeals from his driving under the influence convictions, claiming that the officer unlawfully stopped his vehicle. We affirm.
On September 19, 1997, about 1:30 a.m., while on patrol a New Brighton police officer noticed the car behind her was traveling below the speed limit. She pulled over to let the car pass. After the car had passed, the officer observed the car "just about hit a curb" while turning, stop unusually long at a stop sign, weave within its lane, and cross the centerline. In all, the officer followed the car for about two miles. The officer pulled the car over. The driver, White, was subsequently charged with driving under the influence.
At the hearing, White claimed the officer lacked articulable suspicion for the stop because she caused White to commit the traffic violation by following him for such a long period of time. The district court upheld the stop and found White guilty of Count I, Minn. Stat. § 169.121, subds. 1(a), 3(c)(1) (Supp. 1997) (driving while under influence of alcohol within ten years of two or more prior impaired convictions) and Count II, Minn. Stat. § 169.121, subds. 1(d), 3(c)(1) (Supp. 1997) (driving with blood alcohol concentration of .10 or more within ten years of two or more prior convictions). White appeals.
1. If there are facts in dispute, this court gives a trial court's factual determinations great weight, and will not reverse those findings unless clearly erroneous. State v. Dickerson, 481 N.W.2d 840, 843 (Minn. 1992), aff'd 508 U.S. 366, 113 S. Ct. 2130 (1993).
White claims that the officer following him caused him to commit the traffic violations out of nervousness. The trial court found to the contrary. White did not testify at trial, and there was no evidence introduced to show that he saw the police car prior to the stop. There is no evidence in the record to support White's claim. The trial court did not clearly err in finding that the officer did not cause White's traffic violation.
Even if there were evidence that White saw the police car, his reliance on State v. Brechler, 412 N.W.2d 367 (Minn. App. 1987), is misplaced. Brechler held that, by following a car at close distance without observing any conduct suggesting criminal activity, an officer caused the car to pull over before the officer activated the take-down lights. Id. at 368-69. Brechler did not hold that the officer following the car caused a traffic violation, only that the officer caused a premature stop. Id.
2. White claims the officer's stop was the result of whim, caprice or idle curiosity in violation of Article I, section 10 of the Minnesota Constitution and the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution. When an appellate court reviews a stop based on given facts, the test is not whether the trial court decision is clearly erroneous, but whether the basis for the stop was adequate as a matter of law. Berge v. Commissioner of Pub. Safety, 374 N.W.2d 730, 732 (Minn. 1985).
The stop cannot be the product of mere whim, caprice or idle curiosity. State v. Pike, 551 N.W.2d 919, 921 (Minn. 1996). When looking at the totality of the circumstances, a trained officer may draw inferences that escape an untrained person. United States v. Cortez, 449 U.S. 411, 417-18, 101 S. Ct. 690, 694-95 (1981). The officer here observed White late at night travelling slower than the speed limit, stopping unusually long at a stop sign, coming close to hitting the curb while turning, and weaving over the centerline. An officer's observation of a traffic violation will provide an objective basis to support a valid stop. State v. George, 557 N.W.2d 575, 578 (Minn. 1997).