Everyone has had that moment when they spot a police car and they begin to sit upright, place both hands on the wheels, and look as alert as possible. Most of the time, nothing happens. But, sometimes, the police will pull you over for no apparent reason. Or so you think.
An officer may stop and detain a motorist on reasonable suspicion that the driver has violated the law. What is reasonable suspicion? The officer’s suspicion must be more than “mere curiosity, rumor or hunch.” Instead, the officer’s suspicion must be based on some specific facts that are “reasonably consistent with criminal activity.”
What if the officer’s suspicion is based on some random, anonymous tip? Is that reliable enough? In People v. Wells, our California Supreme Court ruled that an anonymous citizen’s tip of a possibly intoxicated highway driver “weaving all over the roadway” was enough to raise a reasonable suspicion that would make an investigatory stop and detention lawful. In that case, the police officer pulled over the defendant immediately after he saw his vehicle coming towards him. The officer’s inability to detect any erratic driving was not significant. Instead, the Court emphasized the grave public safety hazard posed by intoxicated drivers and weighed it against the minimal intrusion involved in a simple vehicle stop. But, what makes the tipster’s information reliable? The Court focused on the caller’s detailed description of the car, its location, the nature of the erratic driving – all of which made it likely that the caller was an eyewitness.
If you were stopped for Driving Under the Influence, DUI, in Orange County or surrounding areas, contact Scott D. Hughes for your free DUI consultation.
Scott Hughes is a California DUI Lawyer practicing in Orange County, Los Angeles, Riverside, San Bernardino and San Diego.