from the District Court of Pierce County, Northeast Judicial
District, the Honorable Lonnie Olson, Judge.
E. Frey, State's Attorney, Towner, N.D., for plaintiff
Russell J. Myhre, Valley City, N.D., for defendant and
1] Sandon Erickson appeals from the district court's
criminal judgment and order denying his motion to suppress.
We affirm, concluding that extension of the stop for an
explanation did not transform the stop into an
2] In April 2017, Deputy Taylor Schiller was patrolling in an
area north of Rugby, looking for a brown or tan Ford SUV that
had been reported stolen. Deputy Schiller saw a vehicle
matching that description. The SUV was actually maroon, but
Deputy Schiller testified it initially appeared to be tan
because it was covered with dirt and road dust. This vehicle
pulled over and came to a stop without a signal to stop from
Deputy Schiller. Deputy Schiller pulled over as well, exited
his squad car, and attempted to contact the driver. Before he
made contact with the driver, the SUV drove away. Deputy
Schiller was unable to read the license plate number of the
SUV at that time.
3] Deputy Schiller returned to his squad car and activated
his emergency lights. After the SUV again pulled over, Deputy
Schiller exited his vehicle to make contact with the driver.
Prior to making contact, he read the license plate number and
noted that it did not match the license plate number of the
stolen SUV. As he continued to approach the vehicle, Deputy
Schiller recognized the driver as Erickson. Because of their
prior contacts, he knew Erickson had a suspended license.
Deputy Schiller also saw an open case of Keystone Light beer
in the front-seat passenger side of Erickson's vehicle.
He then informed Erickson that he had stopped him pursuant to
a stolen vehicle investigation. Deputy Schiller testified he
could detect the odor of alcohol, and he arrested Erickson
for driving under the influence.
4] Erickson moved to suppress evidence obtained after the
deputy read the plate and ruled out the vehicle as stolen.
The district court denied Erickson's motion.
5] Erickson argues that because the stop was unreasonably
extended, the district court erred by denying his motion to
suppress. "We will affirm a district court's
decision on a motion to suppress if there is sufficient
competent evidence fairly capable of supporting the district
court's findings, and the decision is not contrary to the
manifest weight of the evidence." State v.
Westmiller, 2007 ND 52, ¶ 7, 730 N.W.2d 134. There
are no material factual disputes. "Questions of law are
fully reviewable on appeal, and whether the findings of fact
meet a legal standard is a question of law."
6] Erickson argues that the stop was unreasonably extended
once Deputy Schiller realized Erickson's license plate
number did not match that of the stolen vehicle. Erickson
contends that at that point, the purpose of the stop had been
completed and any further detainment, including Deputy
Schiller's approaching the stopped vehicle and providing
him an explanation for the stop, was unconstitutional.
7] A stop becomes improper if the original purpose of the
stop ceases and the officer no longer has reasonable
suspicion of another crime. State v. Fields, 2003 ND
81, ¶ 10, 662 N.W.2d 242.
The duration of the investigatory detention may continue
"as long as reasonably necessary to conduct [the
officer's duties resulting from the traffic stop] and to
issue a warning or citation." When the original purpose
of the traffic stop is complete, the officer must have a