Supreme Court: Anonymous 9-1-1 Tip Enough to Support a Traffic Stop

May 27, 2014 · by rosenblumlawfirm · in

Thanks to the Supreme Court’s most recent Fourth Amendment decision in Navarette v California, decided last month, police can rely entirely on an anonymous tip about a single instance of bad driving—for example, a single swerve— to justify a DWI traffic stop.

In this case the driver and his passenger happened to be transporting 30 pounds of marijuana, so you may be hesitant to have sympathy for them. But the implications of this decision will affect everyone on the road, including you and me. Whereas before the decision police had to corroborate an anonymous tip to establish the reliability of the tip, now, as long as the tip comes through the 911 emergency hotline and the caller claims to be an eyewitness, police can stop a driver without needing any more evidence.

Note that just because such a stop may be Constitutionally valid, does not mean that the police automatically have the right to search your vehicle. Therefore, unless the police have probable cause, are able to see contraband in plain view, or you consent, they will not be able to search your vehicle.  This is why attorneys usually advise to not consent to a search – because most of the time the police simply do not have a basis for the search unless the person consents.

The standards governing traffic stops have always been less strict than those governing home searches. But the frightening part of this decision is just how loose those standards have become: Police now have much more room to conduct searches and seizures without violating the Fourth Amendment. Such violations usually lead to the suppression of whatever evidence against you is found after the violation occurs, meaning the State cannot use such evidence at trial. While the State still needs to prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law, the evidence police gather after stopping your vehicle is often the most critical evidence there is against you.

If you are arrested for driving while intoxicated, driving under the influence, or possession of contraband following a traffic stop, the seasoned attorneys at the Rosenblum Law Firm are ready and able to provide you with the toughest defense possible. We have filed numerous successful motions to suppress evidence obtained after an illegal search and seizure. We stay on top of the ever-evolving law of vehicle searches and seizures and constantly tailor our strategies and techniques to stay up to date in this complex area of law. For more information on how we can handle your case, call our office at 1-888-815-3649.