As many travelers are aware, there are drivers out there that are drunk and should not be
driving. One local Taft DUI
Attorney sees alot of stops on interstate 5 for this reason. In a recent Court case the
Cal Supremes have held an anonymous tip is enough, according to Shafter DUI Attorney.
in People v. Wells, 38 Cal.4th 1078 (2006), an anonymous caller to a
Kern County police reported a possibly intoxicated driver weaving all over the roadway in a 1980s
model blue van. The van was reportedly traveling northbound on Highway 99 at Airport Drive, north of
Bakersfield in Kern County. A CHP officer who heard the report happened to be only 3 or 4 miles
north of that location, and he knew there was only one exit between him and the location. He waited
and, 2 to 3 minutes later, a northbound blue 1980s-era van passed him. Although the officer
observed no weaving, speeding or other traffic violation, he stopped the van. The Court found that
the anonymous call was sufficient to establish reasonable suspicion for the stop. A blue 1980s van
is a fairly distinctive vehicle, so the police officer could reasonably believe it was the vehicle
described. In addition, the Court noted that a drunk driver poses a far more grave and immediate
risk to the public than a person who passively possesses a gun (as was the allegation in J.L.). As
in previous cases, the Court also pointed out that a traffic stop is much less intrusive and
embarrassing than a frisk conducted on a public street (which is what occurred in J.L.). Any doubts
regarding the reliability or sincerity of the tipster were reduced by the fact the tip came via a
phoned-in report of a contemporaneous act of recklessly driving presumably viewed by the caller.
Moreover, the officer confirmed the relatively precise and accurate description given by the tipster
the type of vehicle as well as its color, location and direction of travel within a very short
period of time of the report, which also enhanced the reliability of the tip. Despite seeming
similarities to J.L., the Court concluded a different result was warranted in this case.
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