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Hoeft v. Commissioner of Public Safety

Court of Appeals of Minnesota

June 17, 2013

Brian Bruce Hoeft, petitioner, Appellant,
v.
Commissioner of Public Safety, Respondent.

UNPUBLISHED OPINION

Mille Lacs County District Court File No. 48-CV-12-1153.

Mark D. Kelly, St. Paul, Minnesota (for appellant).

Lori Swanson, Attorney General, James E. Haase, Assistant Attorney General, St. Paul, Minnesota (for respondent).

Considered and decided by Ross, Presiding Judge; Chutich, Judge; and Kirk, Judge.

KIRK, Judge.

On appeal from the district court's order sustaining the revocation of his driver's license, appellant argues that the district court erred by determining that: (1) the arresting officer had a reasonable and articulable suspicion of criminal activity when he seized him; and (2) appellant did not have standing to challenge the officer's warrantless entry into his friend's garage. Because we conclude that the district court erred by determining that appellant did not have standing to challenge the officer's warrantless entry in the garage, and we determine that the officer's entry violated the Fourth Amendment, we reverse.

FACTS

At approximately 1:30 a.m. on March 24, 2012, Sergeant Daniel Holada was on duty in the town of Bock when he heard a vehicle loudly squeal its tires. Sergeant Holada looked up and saw a darker-colored pickup truck squealing its tires and sliding as it drove north on Wall Avenue toward Highway 23. Sergeant Holada was concerned about the driving conduct because it occurred around bar-closing time near a busy highway where people might be present. Sergeant Holada observed the truck cross Highway 23 and then turn east on Haystack Road.

Deputy Bradley Hunt was parked about a block away from Sergeant Holada and also heard, but did not see, a vehicle squeal its tires. Deputy Hunt drove toward the sound and pulled out in front of Sergeant Holada. Using his radio, Sergeant Holada advised Deputy Hunt of the direction in which he saw the truck drive. As they pursued the truck, Sergeant Holada and Deputy Hunt observed 15-to-20-foot-long skid marks on the road by a bar and across Highway 23. After Sergeant Holada and Deputy Hunt turned on to Haystack Road, they observed acceleration marks in the gravel that appeared to be fresh. Neither Deputy Hunt nor Sergeant Holada ever activated their emergency lights or sirens.

As Deputy Hunt turned the corner where Haystack Road becomes 65th Avenue, he observed a vehicle parked in a driveway near a garage with its taillights or brake lights on. Deputy Hunt observed a person standing by the vehicle's door and a light on in the vehicle's cab. As Deputy Hunt pulled into the driveway approximately five seconds later, he observed a person wearing a black hooded sweatshirt with red lettering walk into the garage through the open garage door. Deputy Hunt observed several people inside the garage, and he got out of his squad car and approached the garage. As he did so, the garage door started going down; he was unable to see who activated the door but was confident that it was not the person he pursued to the house. When the garage door was almost closed, Deputy Hunt used his foot to trip the safety mechanism, causing the garage door to rise. Deputy Hunt saw the man wearing the black sweatshirt with the red lettering inside the garage. He said something similar to "You in the black sweater, " and motioned to the man with his finger to step outside the garage. The man complied and, as he did so, Deputy Hunt recognized him as a family friend, appellant Brian Bruce Hoeft.

Sergeant Holada was a few seconds behind Deputy Hunt, and he parked his vehicle behind Deputy Hunt's vehicle in the driveway and got out. Sergeant Holada saw a person walk from the area of a dark-colored vehicle to the open garage door. He observed the door start to close, and then saw the garage door rise while Deputy Hunt was standing nearby. Sergeant Holada saw a man come out of the garage who he recognized from the community; the man was later identified as Hoeft. Both Sergeant Holada and Deputy Hunt knew that Hoeft did not live in the home. Sergeant Holada knew that a different man, A.B., lived in the home.

Once Hoeft was outside the garage, Sergeant Holada and Deputy Hunt began talking to him. Hoeft admitted that he squealed his tires. While they were talking, Deputy Hunt smelled a strong odor of alcohol and observed that Hoeft's eyes were bloodshot and watery. Deputy Hunt asked Hoeft if he had been drinking and Hoeft responded, "To be honest with 'ya, I'm probably over." Deputy Hunt performed field sobriety tests, and then placed Hoeft under arrest for suspected driving while impaired.

In May 2012, respondent Commissioner of Public Safety ordered the revocation of Hoeft's driver's license under the implied consent law. Hoeft petitioned for judicial review of the revocation of his driver's license. The district court held a hearing, and Sergeant Holada, Deputy Hunt, and Hoeft testified. Hoeft testified that he drove to the home of his friend, A.B., in the early morning on March 24 because A.B. had invited him to the home for a party and told him he could stay there if he wanted. Hoeft testified that he did not close the garage door; instead, he believed A.B. closed the garage door. Hoeft testified that, when the garage door opened, he recognized Deputy Hunt ...


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