Evaluating the constitutionality of a drunk driving tip to the police
March 29, 2011

What Is The “Public Safety” Exception To The Fourth Amendment?

An anonymous and uncorroborated phone tip about a potential drunk drivermay trigger the “public safety” exception to the Fourth Amendment, even where the police do not independently observe anything unusual about the motorist or his driving prior to the enforcement stop

In People v. Saldana (2002) 101 CA4th 170, the court held that an anonymous tipster calling from a pay phone did not justify a stop, detention and search. The anonymous telephone tip did not include predictive information and the observed corroboration that a vehicle fitting the description was indeed present at the described location did not corroborate the criminal element of the tip. Generally, in order for an anonymous tip to serve as the basis for reasonable suspicion: (1) the tip must include a sufficient range of details (2) the tip cannot simply describe easily observed facts and conditions, and (3) the future movements must be corroborated by independent police observation.

It is important to remember that the prosecution bears the burden of proof when it comes to a warrantless detention, and that the constitutionality of a detention is determined by what the officer knew at the time he made the stop. Make sure to speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney who will review all constitutional issues surrounding your case.

If you or someone you love is facing criminal charges in California, contact the experienced Southern California criminal defense attorneys at Wallin & Klarich today at (877) 4-NO-JAIL or (877) 466-5245 or visit www.wklawdui.com for a consultation of your case. We will get through this together.

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