Caller's Tips and DUI Stops

There have been a number of public campaigns by police agencies in California encouraging people to report drunk drivers. On tuesday this week, the Supreme Court let stand a decision in a Virginia case to throw out a drunk driving conviction based on a tip by a member of the public. In that case, a Virginia police officer pulled over a motorist based solely on the tip and did not observe any traffic violation. The courts in Virginia decided that this was an unreasonable search and seizure and dismissed the DUI case. The U.S Supreme Court declined to overturn the decision, although it did not rule that other States should follow the decision. There was a strong dissent by Chief Justice Roberts who felt that it gave drunk drivers "one free swerve" before they can be pulled over by police.

The law in California allows an officer to pull over a motorist based on a tip from a member of the public without the officer observing any bad driving. However, the decision in Virginia and the refusal of the Supreme Court to overturn the decision will likely result in further attempts in this State to challenge stops based on caller's tips.

The Supreme Court case was backed by Mothers Against Drunk Driving who claimed in the brief that 12,000 Americans died every year in alcohol related crashes. Justice Roberts was joined in the dissent by Justice Antonin Scalia.

If you have any questions concerning DUI defense in California, please call Los Angeles and Orange County DUI Lawyers, Nigel Witham and Jeffrey Gold for a free consultation.

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