Hennepin County District Court File No. 01045315
Considered and decided by Toussaint, Chief Judge, Kalitowski, Judge, and
Minnesota law prohibits the possession of a fictitious driver's license purportedly issued by another state.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Toussaint, Chief Judge
Appellant Richard Howard Stern challenges his misdemeanor conviction of possessing a fictitious driver's license. Stern argues that because a state statute defines a driver's "license" as an operator's license issued by the State of Minnesota, Stern's possession of a purported Illinois license with an incorrect birth date did not constitute the illegal possession of a fictitious driver's license. Because the plain language of the statute clearly includes all licenses, including those purportedly from another state, we affirm.
On May 21, 2001, Stern was stopped by a Minnetonka police officer for speeding. After a request for his driver's license, Stern opened his wallet and gave the officer his Minnesota driver's license. The officer then saw, in another part of the wallet, what appeared to be another driver's license in Stern's name. The officer questioned Stern about the additional license, and Stern handed the officer what appeared to be a driver's license issued by the State of Illinois. Stern told the officer that the latter card was his "fake." The license purported to be from Illinois and bore a different birth date than that on Stern's Minnesota license. The officer cited Stern for possession of a "fictitious driver's license" in violation of Minn. Stat. § 171.22, subd. 1(1) (2000).
Stern moved to dismiss the complaint, arguing that the statute does not prohibit possession of a fictitious out-of-state driver's license. The district court denied the motion, held a trial by stipulation, and found Stern guilty. This appeal follows.
Does the possession of a fictitious driver's license purportedly issued by another state violate Minn. Stat. § 171.22, subd. 1(1) (2000)?
The interpretation of a statute is a legal question subject to de novo review. State v. Linville, 598 N.W.2d 1, 2 (Minn. App. 1999). When there are no facts in dispute, the court of appeals "need not give any weight to the trial court's construction of a ...