Blue Earth County District Court File No. 07-CR-11-4499
Lori Swanson, Attorney General, St. Paul, Minnesota; and Eileen Wells, Mankato City Attorney, Linda B. Hilligoss, Assistant City Attorney, Mankato, Minnesota (for respondent)
David W. Merchant, Chief Appellate Public Defender, Stephen L. Smith, Assistant Public Defender, St. Paul, Minnesota (for appellant)
Considered and decided by Kirk, Presiding Judge; Johnson, Chief Judge; and Stoneburner, Judge.
JOHNSON, Chief Judge
Ashley Kay Holdgrafer was convicted of driving while impaired. On appeal, she challenges the reasonableness of the stop of her vehicle. We conclude that the investigating officer had reasonable suspicion to stop Holdgrafer's vehicle and, thus, affirm.
In the early morning hours of Sunday, October 30, 2011, Officer Dale Stoltman was on patrol in the city of Mankato. At approximately 2:30 a.m., he approached an intersection behind a vehicle that remained stopped after the stoplight had turned green. The officer saw several persons exit the vehicle. The officer later testified that they "kind of rotated around the vehicle and got in -- what's commonly referred to as a Chinese fire drill." One of the persons who exited the vehicle "took off running" after seeing Officer Stoltman. The other persons re-entered the vehicle, which then proceeded to travel forward through the intersection.
After the vehicle drove through the intersection, Officer Stoltman activated his emergency lights and pulled the vehicle over to the side and spoke with the driver, Holdgrafer. The parties stipulated that Officer Stoltman observed indicia of consumption, including "moderate odor of alcohol, watery/glassy eyes and unsteady gait." Officer Stoltman administered a field-sobriety test, which further indicated that Holdgrafer was under the influence of alcohol. A preliminary breath test indicated an alcohol concentration of .133. Holdgrafer admitted to Officer Stoltman that she had been drinking alcoholic beverages at a Halloween party. Officer Stoltman arrested Holdgrafer for driving while impaired. Holdgrafer consented to a blood test, which revealed an alcohol concentration of .11.
In December 2011, the state charged Holdgrafer with two counts of fourth-degree driving while impaired, in violation of Minn. Stat. § 169A.20, subds. 1(1), 1(5) (2010). In March 2012, Holdgrafer moved to suppress all evidence arising from Officer Stoltman's stop of her vehicle. The district court held an evidentiary hearing in May 2012, at which it denied the motion on the ground that Officer Stoltman had reasonable suspicion to stop the vehicle.
In July 2012, the case was tried to the court on stipulated facts pursuant to Minn. R. Crim. P. 26.01, subd. 4. The district court found Holdgrafer guilty on both counts. The district court imposed a stayed sentence of 30 days in jail. Holdgrafer appeals.
Holdgrafer argues that the district court erred by denying her motion to suppress. She contends that Officer Stoltman did not have reasonable suspicion to stop her vehicle. When reviewing a district court's order on a motion to suppress evidence, we apply a clearly erroneous standard of review to factual findings and a de novo sta ...