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Haase v. Commissioner of Public Safety

May 25, 2004

CHAD HAASE, PETITIONER, APPELLANT,
v.
COMMISSIONER OF PUBLIC SAFETY, RESPONDENT.



Dakota County District Court. File No. C8-03-014045.

Considered and decided by Wright , Presiding Judge; Schumacher , Judge; and Willis , Judge.

SYLLABUS BY THE COURT

A homeowner does not abandon his reasonable expectation of privacy in his garage by opening his garage door to gain entry.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Wright, Judge

Reversed

OPINION

In this appeal from the district court's decision sustaining the revocation of his driver's license under the implied-consent law, appellant argues that the revocation is based on evidence obtained from a police officer's warrantless entry into the garage of appellant's home, in violation of the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution and Article 1, Section 10, of the Minnesota Constitution. We reverse.

FACTS

The Farmington police department received a call from an identified citizen who reported that a vehicle traveling on Pilot Knob Road had crossed the center line several times. The caller gave a description and the license-plate number of the vehicle. Officer Gary Rutherford responded to the call but initially was unable to locate the vehicle. He ran a license-plate check and learned that the vehicle was registered to appellant Chad Haase. The officer proceeded to Haase's residence, where he saw the reported vehicle pulling into the garage.

Without activating any emergency lights, the officer parked his car and walked to the open garage. The officer stood at the threshold of the open garage, behind the vehicle, and waited for the driver to emerge from the car. While the officer was waiting, Haase caused the garage door to begin to close. The officer interrupted the closing door by kicking his leg out to trip the auto-reverse sensor. The garage door retreated. When Haase emerged from the vehicle, he was startled by the officer's presence. After explaining to Haase why he was there, the officer asked to speak with Haase about the reported incident. While the officer interviewed Haase inside the garage, Haase exhibited signs of intoxication. Haase agreed to submit to a preliminary breath test, which registered above the legal limit. The officer then arrested Haase for driving while impaired by alcohol. Haase took the implied-consent test, which revealed an alcohol concentration of.10 or more, and the Commissioner of Public Safety revoked Haase's driver's license pursuant to the implied-consent law. See Minn. Stat. § 169A.52, subd. 4 (2002). The district court sustained the license revocation, and Haase moved for reconsideration. On reconsideration, the district court upheld the license revocation. This appeal followed.

ISSUE

Did appellant have a reasonable expectation of privacy in his garage?

ANALYSIS

Haase argues that the revocation of his driver's license under the implied-consent law should be rescinded. He contends that any evidence of his intoxication should be suppressed because the officer's warrantless entry into Haase's garage constituted an unreasonable search in violation of the United States and Minnesota constitutions. When the facts are not in dispute, the validity of a search is a question of law subject to de novo review. State v. Bauman, 586 N.W.2d 416, 419 (Minn. App. 1998), review denied (Minn. Nov. 24, 1998). When reviewing the constitutionality of a search, we independently analyze the undisputed facts to determine whether evidence resulting from the search should be suppressed. State v. Othoudt, 482 N.W.2d 218, 221 (Minn. 1992). The ...


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