Can an anonymous 911 call lead to a traffic violation?

Posted By The Law Office of Kelley M. Enderley, PC || 4-Oct-2013

People sometimes make mistakes while driving. No driver is perfect, and sometimes other drivers might presume a small mistake while moving down a highway means a driver is drunk or being reckless. Two men were arrested on the side of the road after a 911 call from another driver. They pleaded guilty to drug charges after having their car searched, and are now appealing their case to the Supreme Court of the United States.

The Supreme Court has previously denied an appeal by officials in another state after that state's Supreme Court sided with a defendant that an anonymous 911 call alone was not enough for an officer to pull someone over for alleged drunk driving. Now, the Supreme Court has decided to hear the case of these two men and will address the question of whether allegations of drunk or reckless driving in a 911 call are cause enough for a traffic stop.

The case that will be taken up in January by the Supreme Court involved a 911 call about a potential reckless driver. The officer found the alleged vehicle, but pulled the people over without observing any reckless or suspected drunk driving behavior. The 911 caller reportedly provided an accurate description of the car and the license plate. This eventually led to officers searching the car and reportedly finding marijuana.

Officers must have a reason for pulling a person over. This case will address whether an anonymous person's tip will be enough to prompt a traffic stop. Speaking with an experienced New York attorney might be a wise decision after an arrest.

Source: Associated Press, "Court: Is anonymous tip enough for traffic stop?" Mark Sherman, Oct. 1, 2013