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US Supreme Court Allows Use of Anonymous Tip as Reasonable Cause

April 23, 2014


On April 22, 2014 the US Supreme Court in a 5-4 decision upheld the ruling of the California Courts and 1st District Court of Appeals allowing that anonymous 911 calls can, given correct circumstances, be reasonable and sufficient evidence to pull over a motorist for the suspicion of Drunk Driving. The Majority Opinion explained that a stop based on an anonymous 911 call does not violate the 4th amendments protection against unreasonable search and seizure.

“In August 2008, an anonymous 911 caller in California phoned in a report that a pickup truck had run her off the road. The caller gave the location of the incident, plus the make and model of the truck and the license plate number.

Police subsequently pulled over a truck matching that description and smelled marijuana as they were walking toward the vehicle. Officers eventually found 30 pounds of marijuana in the truck and arrested the driver, Jose Prado Navarette.

Navarette challenged the search and arrest as unconstitutional, arguing that officers did not have reasonable suspicion to pull him over in the first place because police knew nothing about the identity or reliability of the tipster.

The five-justice court majority disagreed, and in so doing gave police new authority to rely on anonymous tipsters.” – Taken from NPR

(You can read the Supreme Courts Opinion Here)

What does this means to the drivers of California?

1. It just means there is one more technicality or reason that police officers can pull you over and subject you to Field Sobriety Tests.

2. It means that any driving infraction reported against you, even if its via and anonymous call, can put you under suspicion of Drunk Driving.

3. It means there is one more reason you may need a good attorney.


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