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Can police stop you for suspected DUI based on an anonymous tip?

There's a quote often attributed to Benjamin Franklin that goes, "Those who surrender freedom for security will not have, nor do they deserve, either one." Many Floridians tend to stand firmly on the freedom side and favor a more hands-off approach to government.

So, they might find it disturbing to know that the Supreme Court just ruled 5-4 to allow police officers to pull drivers over on suspicion of drunk driving based solely on 911 receiving an anonymous tip.

Dissenters see this as a violation of Fourth Amendment rights, which protect people from unreasonable searches and require police to have a reasonable suspicion that the person they are stopping has done something criminal.

The decision stems from an incident in California in 2008 when a woman phoned police to report that a Ford pickup had run her off the road a few minutes before. Police followed the truck for a bit and, despite seeing nothing out of the ordinary, decided to pull the truck over in relation to suspicion of drunk driving.

The ruling raises some important and interesting questions. What will stop people from using 911 tips for revenge or as a gag? Does an anonymous tip really constitute reasonable suspicion? How much power are we willing to give to police in exchange for more security?

These are all questions whose answers may never be clear cut. For now, know that if you are facing drunk driving charges, you do have rights. A Florida attorney can conduct an investigation of your situation and may be able to get the charges reduced or even dropped.

Source:, "Can an Anonymous Tip Get You Arrested for Drunk Driving?" Garrett Epps, May 14, 2014

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