STATE OF MINNESOTA
IN COURT OF APPEALS
State of Minnesota,
Myron Joseph Busse, Jr.,
Filed October 5, 1999
Toussaint, Chief Judge
Clearwater County District Court
File No. K398292
Kip O. Fontaine, Clearwater County Attorney, Jeanine Renee Brand, Assistant County Attorney, 213 Main Avenue North, Department 301, Bagley, MN 56621 (for appellant)
Randall Gordon Knutson, Baer, Knutson & Associates, 331 6th Street, Box 249, Hawley, MN 56549 (for respondent)
Considered and decided by Kalitowski, Presiding Judge, Toussaint, Chief Judge, and Schumacher, Judge.
Appellant Myron Joseph Busse, Jr., argues the district court erred in concluding that a police officer may conduct further inquiry following a traffic stop for a broken tail lamp. Because the district court did not err in concluding that the police officer's conduct was lawful, we affirm.
Even if Busse did not waive his right to appeal the ruling, the district court did not err in concluding the stop was lawful. In reviewing a district court ruling where material facts are not in dispute, the reviewing court may review the district court's application of law de novo. State v. Othoudt, 482 N.W.2d 218 (Minn. 1992). The legality of investigatory stops is governed by the Fourth Amendment, which has been interpreted by the U.S. Supreme Court to require that an officer have an objective basis for believing the person stopped is involved in criminal activity. State v. George, 557 N.W.2d 575, 578 (Minn. 1997) (citing United States v. Cortez, 449 U.S. 411, 417, 101 S.Ct. 690, 695 (1981)). The showing required to justify a traffic stop is minimal. See George, 557 N.W.2d at 578 ("Ordinarily, if an officer observes a violation of a traffic law, however insignificant, the officer has an objective basis for stopping the vehicle."); see also State v. Schinzing, 342 N.W.2d 105, 109 (Minn. 1983) (holding that where officer observed at least three minor traffic violations there was valid objective basis for stop); State v. Pleas, 329 N.W.2d 329, 333 (Minn. 1983) (holding that where car had broken windshield, no front license plate, and rear plate upside down, there was valid objective basis for stop), State v. Barber, 308 Minn. 204, 207, 241 N.W.2d 476, 477 (1976) (holding that where officer observed car with license plates wired rather than bolted onto vehicle, stop was lawful).
Here, the stipulated facts show that the officer stopped Busse for a broken tail lamp. Because a broken tail lamp is an equipment violation under the traffic code, the officer had a valid objective basis for stopping Busse. See Minn. Stat. § 169.50 (1998)(requiring at least two tail lamps on rear of all vehicles). Under these facts we conclude that the stop was lawful.