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Anonymous Tips Can Be Considered "Probable Cause" in a DUI Case

Here’s a scenario:

Say you are driving along and suddenly see the flashing red and blue lights behind you. You pull over and when the officer approaches your window he asks if you have been drinking. He also tells you that they received an anonymous tip stating that a car that fit your car’s make and model was seen driving recklessly and swerving in lanes. The anonymous tip is the reason the officer pulled you over. From there, the officer smells alcohol on your breath and, by the end of it, you get carted away for driving under the influence of alcohol. Were the stop and arrest lawful?

According to the Supreme Court, it is. Anonymous tips can be used as probable cause to pull over a vehicle.

An anonymous tip can be considered lawful probable cause if:

  • The caller describes the vehicle and gives the license plate number.
  • The tip and arrest occurred within a reasonable amount of time from each other.
  • The tip came through 911, which means that it wasn’t completely anonymous. 911 has means to track anonymous calls and penalize those who are providing false tips.
  • The caller provided evidence that would be considered suspicion of drunk driving.

What happens if you are just a victim of circumstance? What if an anonymous tip comes in for a car that matches yours and you are wrongfully arrested? If this happens, don’t panic. A dedicated and experienced Ventura DUI defense attorney can help ensure you are getting the protection you need.

At The Law Offices of Robert F. Sommers, our legal team is dedicated to protecting the rights of those you have been arrested for a DUI. Contact our Ventura office today for the legal assistance you need during this stressful time.