may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (1998).
STATE OF MINNESOTA
IN COURT OF APPEALS
Kurt Richard Wilmes, petitioner,
Commissioner of Public Safety,
Filed March 23, 1999
Hennepin County District Court
File No. 476102
Glenn P. Bruder, Mitchell & Bruder, 4005 West 65th Street, Suite 200, Edina, MN 55435 (for appellant)
Michael A. Hatch, Attorney General, Leah M. Percich, Assistant Attorney General, 525 Park Street, Suite 200, St. Paul, MN 55103-2106 (for respondent)
Considered and decided by Schumacher, Presiding Judge, Lansing, Judge, and Willis, Judge.
Kurt Richard Wilmes appeals the district court's order sustaining the revocation of his driving privileges for driving under the influence, claiming the stop was unlawful. The only issue raised is whether the arresting officer had a proper, legal basis to warrant the initial investigatory stop. We affirm.
Officer Bobby Jo Donahue of the Mound Police Department was informed by dispatch that a gas station attendant had just reported a possible drunk driver leaving the station. The dispatcher also stated the license plates on the vehicle had been reported as stolen. Donahue stopped the identified car, which was driven by Wilmes. Wilmes explained to Donahue that the plates had been stolen from him several months before but had been recovered and returned to him the following day. Donahue arrested Wilmes, who subsequently failed an Intoxilyzer test. Wilmes challenged the revocation of his driver's license, claiming the stop was based on mistaken information. The district court sustained the revocation, finding that Donahue had a reasonable articulable suspicion to stop Wilmes based on the license plate information. Wilmes appeals.
When an appellate court reviews a stop based on given facts, the test is 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). A stop requires a "particularized and objective basis" for suspecting criminal activity. United States v. Cortez, 449 U.S. 411, 417-18, 101 S. Ct. 690, 695 (1981). Although the requirement is minimal, the stop cannot be "the product of mere whim, caprice or idle curiosity." People v. Ingle, 330 N.E.2d 39, 44 (N.Y. 1975), quoted in Marben v. State, Dep't of Pub. Safety, 294 N.W.2d 697, 699 (Minn. 1980).
Even where an officer's articulated suspicion is based on a mistake, an investigative detention is valid if the officer's suspicion is reasonable. See State v. Sanders, 339 N.W.2d 557, 559-60 (Minn. 1983) (holding traffic stop valid where officer mistakenly, but reasonably, suspected that defendant was another individual); City of St. Paul v. Vaughn, 237 N.W.2d 365, 368-69 (Minn. 1975) (stop upheld even though officer mistakenly thought driver had suspended license).
We conclude that Donahue had sufficient reason to suspect that Wilmes's car had stolen license plates. Donahue double-checked the license plate number given to him by the dispatcher to confirm that the plates were reported as stolen. We conclude these facts provide the particularized and objective basis necessary to uphold a stop. Cortez, 449 U.S. at 417-18, 101 S. Ct. at 695. Because Donahue's suspicions were reasonable, the stop was proper.
Wilmes claims that Donahue cannot justify his stop based on the license plates because the Minneapolis Police Department's knowledge that the plates were not stolen must be imputed to Donahue. State v. Conaway, 319 N.W.2d 35, 39-40 (Minn. 1982) (police may impute knowledge from other law enforcement agencies in order to establish probable cause for arrest). We disagree.
Conaway deals with probable cause for arrest. The stop in this case requires only that Donahue have an articulable suspicion, which does not require the same threshold of knowledge about a crime as probable cause for an arrest. State v. Cavegn, 294 N.W.2d 717, 721 (1980). We decline to extend the Conaway imputed knowledge doctrine to an officer in an automobile stop. Instead we follow our longstanding precedent that requires only articulable suspicion.