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,
Kenneth Harold Opsal,
Filed January 21, 1997
Hennepin County District Court
File No. 96008499
Thomas R. Johnson, 6300 Shingle Creek Parkway, Suite 305, Brooklyn Center, MN 55430 (for Respondent)
John E. Daubney, 500 Degree of Honor Building, 325 Cedar Street, St. Paul, MN 55101 (for Appellant)
Considered and decided by Klaphake, Presiding Judge, Schumacher, Judge, and Amundson, Judge.
Appellant Kenneth Opsal challenges his conviction for aggravated DUI. He argues that the traffic stop for unlawful use of high-beam headlights was improper because: (1) his headlights were not in operation at the time of the stop, and (2) the stop was a pretextual stop that was not supported by the evidence. We affirm.
As a result of his impressions and subsequent investigation from the stop, Officer Carlson arrested Opsal for driving while intoxicated. Opsal's intoxication is not an issue in this appeal, but he challenges the officer's basis for the stop. At a probable cause hearing, the court found that the officer legitimately stopped Opsal. A week later, Opsal was found guilty of aggravated driving while intoxicated. This appeal followed.
I. Specific and Articulable Basis
A police officer must base a traffic stop on "specific and articulable facts which, taken together with rational inferences from those facts, reasonably warrant that intrusion." Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1, 21, 88 S. Ct. 1868, 1880 (1968).
Officer Carlson stopped Opsal's car because he believed the high-beam headlights were on within 1,000 feet of the approach of another car, a violation of Minn. Stat. § 169.61. See Holm v. Commissioner of Pub. Safety, 416 N.W.2d 473, 475 (Minn. App. 1987) (traffic stop for violation of Minn. Stat § 169.61, despite fact that citation was never written, was valid ground for stop that led to DUI arrest). Officer Carlson thought Opsal's high-beams were on because of a distracting amount of glare coming from his headlights. The district court found that Officer Carlson honestly believed Opsal was using his high-beam headlights. Thus, because Officer Carlson's belief that the high-beams were on, constituting a traffic violation, was based on specific and articulable facts (the glare from the lights), taken with reasonable inferences (that the high-beams were on), the stop was valid. Cf. City of St. Paul v. Vaughn, 306 Minn. 337, 342-43, 337, 237 N.W.2d 365, 369 (1975) (where police officers stopped driver whom they thought to be someone they knew whose license has been suspended, but was in fact brother driving with valid license, stop was valid).
We conclude that Officer Carlson's stop was not pretextual.