Todd C. Banks, petitioner, Appellant,
Commissioner of Public Safety, Respondent.
Wilkin County District Court File No. 84-CV-12-261
Christopher J. Cadem, Cadem Law Group, PLLC, Fergus Falls, Minnesota (for appellant)
Lori Swanson, Attorney General, Joseph M. Simmer, Mathew Ferche, Assistant Attorneys General, St. Paul, Minnesota (for respondent)
Considered and decided by Kalitowski, Presiding Judge; Cleary, Judge; and Willis, Judge. [*]
Appellant challenges the district court's order sustaining the revocation of his driving privileges under the implied-consent law. He contends that the deputy who stopped and arrested him lacked reasonable, articulable suspicion to justify the traffic stop and lacked probable cause to believe that he was driving while under the influence of alcohol. We affirm.
On July 13, 2012, an informant called 911 to report the driving conduct of a male driver of a red motorcycle traveling westbound on I-94. The informant identified himself and stated that the motorcycle was weaving within its lane of traffic, swerving outside of its lane, and becoming a hazard. The informant stated that he was traveling near milepost 45 and that the motorcycle was approximately a one-half of a mile behind him at the time of the call.
Wilkin County Deputy Sheriff Rick Teberg, who was running stationary radar along I-94, was advised of the informant's call. He then saw a red motorcycle pass by on I-94 near milepost 37, drifting and correcting within its lane of traffic, and he inferred that this was the motorcycle that had been described by the informant. Deputy Teberg began to follow the motorcycle in his squad car and observed it drifting within its lane without touching either the center line or the fog line. He also observed the motorcycle ¶uctuate in speed between 62 and 72 miles per hour. After following it for approximately 1.5 miles, Deputy Teberg decided to stop the motorcycle out of concern for the safety of the driver and the other traffic.
After stopping near milepost 35, Deputy Teberg observed that the driver, appellant Todd Banks, had difficulty dismounting the motorcycle. When the deputy approached and spoke with appellant, he detected a strong odor of alcohol, slurred speech, and bloodshot and watery eyes. When Deputy Teberg asked to see appellant's driver's license, appellant opened a saddle bag attached to the motorcycle, and the deputy could see an open, partially full bottle of vodka inside the bag. Deputy Teberg asked whether appellant had been drinking, and appellant responded that he had. The deputy then asked appellant to perform field sobriety testing and to submit to a preliminary breath test (PBT), and appellant refused to do so. Based upon his observations, the informant's call, and appellant's refusal to perform field sobriety testing or submit to a PBT, Deputy Teberg arrested appellant for driving while impaired (DWI). Appellant later submitted to a breath test, which revealed that his alcohol concentration was .18.
Appellant's driving privileges were subsequently revoked, and he filed a petition for judicial review of the revocation. The district court held a hearing on the petition, during which Deputy Teberg testified. The court received a video recording from the deputy's squad car into evidence during the hearing, and received an audio recording of the informant's 911 call and radio traffic by law enforcement into evidence following the hearing. The court later issued an order sustaining the revocation of appellant's driving privileges. The court determined that Deputy Teberg had reasonable, articulable suspicion to stop appellant and had probable cause to believe that appellant was driving while under the influence of alcohol. This appeal follows.
When reviewing an implied-consent matter, an appellate court should not set aside a district court's findings of fact unless they are clearly erroneous. Ellingson v. Comm'rof Pub. Safety, 800 N.W.2d 805, 806 (Minn.App. 2011), review denied (Minn. Aug. 24, 2011). Findings of fact are clearly erroneous when the appellate court is "left with a definite and firm conviction that a mistake has been committed." Jasper v. Comm'r ofPub. Safety, 642 N.W.2d 435, 440 (Minn. 2002) (quotation omitted). Due regard should be given to the district court's opportunity to judge the credibility of witnesses. Snyder v.Comm'r of Pub. Safety, 744 N.W.2d 19, 22 (Minn.App. 2008). A district court's ...