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Can I Be Pulled Over for DWI Based on an Anonymous Tip?

Posted on in DWI

Collin County DWI defense lawyerGood citizens are everywhere, and they are called that because they are generally “good.” Their behaviors mean no harm and are only meant to help the community or someone in need. Some are inclined to notify law enforcement when they witness what they believe to be a crime, and anonymous tips from these individuals pour into police stations regularly. A significant portion of these tips is from drivers or passengers on the roadway reporting someone who appears to be driving while intoxicated (DWI) by alcohol or drugs.

What Do the Police Do With This Information?

If a tipster calls 911 to report an emergency, such as a drunk driver on the road, the operator will immediately begin to attempt to get as much information out of the informant as possible. The 911 center keeps a record of the call and can call the number back to obtain more information. This information alone is generally enough for police to stop a vehicle or driver matching the tipster’s description so that the officer can ask questions and gather more information.

Can an Officer Make an Arrest?

According to the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, an officer must have probable cause to believe that the suspect committed a crime before making an arrest. One source of probable cause could be an officer or an identified informant who witnessed the suspicious behavior firsthand. Anonymous tips alone, however, are not always sufficient to establish probable cause, as it can be difficult to determine the credibility of the source. For example, an anonymous informant may have a personal vendetta against the suspect, which might have motivated them to make a false accusation.

However, the United States Supreme Court ruled in 2014 that an anonymous tip can substantiate probable cause—at least to make the initial stop. Once the stop is made, an officer must rely on their own observations to determine if making an arrest for DWI is appropriate. The officer may conduct field sobriety tests and a preliminary breathalyzer test before deciding whether or not there are grounds to make an arrest. In such a case, the anonymous tip could be included as additional evidence depending on its level of detail and credibility.

Contact a Frisco DWI Defense Lawyer 

If an officer pulls you over for any reason, you should remain cooperative but cautious. If the stop is due to an anonymous tip, there may be no other evidence, and if your behavior does not indicate any issues, you may be free to go. If, however, the officer was able to gather enough evidence to establish probable cause for an arrest, your next course of action should be to contact an attorney. The punishments for being convicted of DWI can be severe.

If you would like to discuss your arrest with an experienced Collin County DWI defense attorney, the team at Law Offices of Biederman & Burleson P.L.L.C. is available to help. Call 469-333-3333 to schedule a free consultation today.

 

Sources:

https://statutes.capitol.texas.gov/Docs/PE/htm/PE.49.htm

https://www.oyez.org/cases/2013/12-9490

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