BRYAN, Texas. Under the Fourth Amendment, individuals are protected from facing unreasonable searches and seizures. This means that officers must have probable cause or reasonable suspicion that a law has been broken in order to pull over a driver. This is an important protection afforded to individuals facing DUI charges. Officers must show that they had probable cause to pull you over in the first place. If they did not have probable cause, your charges may be potentially dropped.
One case raises an interesting question regarding the rights of drivers. Do police have the right to pull over a driver if a person calls in an anonymous tip that the driver is drinking and driving? Many people have seen drivers perform dangerous acts, drive recklessly, or drive in a manner that appears unsafe. Drivers have the right to call the police to report this behavior.
However, an anonymous tip alone isn’t sufficient grounds for an officer to pull over a driver who has been reported. According to the Atlantic, the tip must either be provided by a credible source or the tip must offer detailed predictions of what the suspect is doing. So, under this logic, an officer would have to observe the driver engaging in road rage, dangerous driving, or drunken behavior, or receive the tip from a known source (like, say, a liquor store owner who observed the driver down a six pack—and has the receipt of purchase to prove the claim—and then saw the driver get behind the wheel with a child in the car).
Ultimately, the law protects people against false reports, but if police, acting in prudence, pull over someone under the suspicion of drunk driving and then find that breath tests corroborate this fact, police may be found to be working within the limits of the law.
The risk, however, is that 911 will be abused by individuals making false reports. However, there are no real studies on how often the 911 system may be abused in this manner, though there are certainly anecdotal reports. At the end of the day, if you are facing any charges, either drunk driving charges or criminal charges based on a tip-off, it may be wise to speak to a criminal defense lawyer, like the Bryan, Texas criminal defense attorneys at the Wagnon Law Group, P.L.L.C.
There may be other unintended consequences of officers using anonymous tips to investigate citizens or pull people over. According to ProPublica, officers in Florida and other states may use stop and frisk to also gather DNA evidence, amassing large amounts of data on citizens.
Individuals do not have to give DNA unless they are charged or suspected of a crime. However, many individuals who have been stopped may not be aware of their rights. In fact, there have been reports of police asking to collect DNA from individuals during routine traffic stops. In fact, in many counties, DUI stops are one of the leading ways officers amass their DNA databases.
Yet, individuals may not be aware of their Fourth Amendment rights, nor may they be aware that they don’t have to give up a DNA sample unless there is reasonable suspicion of a crime. In fact, some individuals are fighting stop and frisk and stop and spit police tactics by asking law enforcement to get DNA samples destroyed if the DNA was gathered under a coercive situation. Often the DNA is gathered from minors and the parents are the ones fighting to have the samples destroyed.
If you are facing DUI charges, or feel that your rights have been violated, protect yourself. Ask to speak to the DUI lawyers at the Wagnon Law Group, P.L.L.C. today. Our Bryan, Texas DUI attorneys can review the details of your case and help you build a strong legal defense.