Many states have tried various methods to fight against driving under the influence (DUI) because it has been proven to be so perilous. One method used by states has been the implementation of “DUI Tip Lines” or “Crime Stoppers” tip lines. Police departments across the United States have call-in voice mailboxes, where a resident can leave an anonymous lead about a person they think is driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
The police then can take different approaches. Some police departments have opted to pursue the potential drunk driver out and arrest them before they can do any damage. The first step in this investigative procedure is making an investigative traffic stop to see if the suspected drunk driver can be charged with a DUI.
When Can an Officer Make a Traffic Stop Based on a DUI Tip?
Since DUI tips typically come from a citizen, not a law enforcement officer, two competing interests are involved. Police want to keep other drivers secure and defend personal security from government foray. That is why most states instruct a police officer to have a “reasonable suspicion” adequate to justify an investigative traffic stop. Reasonable suspicion typically requires fewer facts and circumstances to justify an investigative traffic stop than probable cause.
What Equals Reasonable Suspicion for an Investigative Traffic Stop?
For a police officer to form reasonable suspicion satisfactory to justify an investigative traffic stop based on a local’s anonymous DUI tip, two items must exist:
- The DUI tip was adequately detailed and not overly obscure, and
- The DUI tip defines activity sufficiently detrimental to the rest of humanity.
It is not precisely clear what is a sufficiently detailed and sufficiently risky activity. Cases have held a police investigative traffic stop to be justified when an anonymous citizen called, gave the general make and model of the vehicle, and its location in connection with:
- Irresponsible driving,
- Illegal parking and creating a traffic hazard,
- Careless driving, or
- Waiving a weapon at other drivers.
What Does Not Constitute Reasonable Suspicion?
Police officers do not have reasonable suspicion sufficient to justify an investigative traffic stop based on a citizen’s anonymous DUI tip if that suspicion is based upon:
- A suspicion
When Does a Routine Traffic Stop Become a DUI Investigation?
Police officers are on the lookout for signs of DUI as soon as they approach your car. These officers are looking for intoxicated drivers. Once a police officer has pulled someone over, they’re usually well into a DUI investigation. An officer will normally ask the standard questions, such as requesting your license, registration, and insurance. While a driver is looking for the license, registration, and insurance, the officer is simultaneously conducting a DUI investigation.
The officers attempt to see if they can smell anything or see any evidence of a crime. They will ask numerous questions simultaneously to see how someone reacts. They will ask if a driver had anything to drink.
Most of the time, individuals try to be open and respond to the question, confessing to having had a couple of drinks. That answer independently may give the officer reasonable suspicion. At that point, an officer can continue their investigation and request somebody to get out of the car.
Once the officers ask someone to get out of the vehicle and walk over to the side of the road, things have transformed, and the officer is now well into a full-blown DUI investigation.
During an Initial Police Stop, Am I Temporarily Contained?
Many individuals question what will happen if they decline to get out of their vehicle during a police stop. They question if they will be physically extracted and perhaps arrested. There’s a fine line between when a person is arrested and not arrested. There is a murky area around when an individual is free to leave and not free to leave. When the police stop individuals, they are detained temporarily.
Being temporarily detained should take no longer than it does for the officer to write the ticket and send the detained individual on their way. When a person is asked to get out of the car to continue the investigation, they’re no longer free to leave.
If I Try to Leave the Police Stop, Will I Be Arrested? Do I Have an Obligation to Answer Police Questions or Perform Field Sobriety Tests?
If a person were to try to leave a police stop without the officer’s permission, they probably would be arrested. However, that does not imply that the questioned person has to answer questions or even perform the field sobriety tests. Field sobriety tests, talking to an officer, and giving them details are voluntary decisions and do not have to be done.
Should I Undergo a Chemical Test? What Are the Consequences if I Refuse?
It is necessary to mention that if someone is lawfully arrested for driving under the influence or suspected of driving under the influence, they must give a chemical test. A chemical test may include either a breath or a blood test. A person does have to submit a chemical test. Refusal to perform a chemical test may have severe consequences.
Field sobriety tests are typically voluntary. There are specific cases if someone is on probation that may require it. But for the average person who is stopped, any field sobriety test, such as the horizontal gaze test, following the pen or the finger, walking and turning, touching the nose, and standing on one leg, is all voluntary.
An officer will likely not tell you that field sobriety tests are voluntary. Still, you do not have to do them, and it would be wise to elect not to do those examinations because they are set up for defeat.
Once the Police Ask Me to Exit My Vehicle, Will I Be Arrested?
Refusing to perform a field sobriety test is a susceptible area. To a certain extent, understand that if you’ve been asked to get out of the car and stand on the side of the road, there’s a good chance you’ll be arrested.
With that in mind, the fewer details you provide the police officers, the better off you’re going to be. Tell the police officer that under the guidance of your attorney, you’re not to answer any questions.
Tell an officer that you’re going to use your right to remain silent, and you’re not going to volunteer to do any field sobriety tests. The officer may inform you that you’re going to be arrested, but you’re already out of the vehicle. There’s a good possibility you’re going to be arrested regardless.
Do I Need an Attorney?
Suppose you have been charged with a DUI, and the information the police relied upon to make their investigative traffic stop was a DUI tip. In that case, it is strongly recommended that you contact a DUI/DWI lawyer. Only a criminal defense attorney will explain the issues and help in any successful defense.
Use LegalMatch to find the right DUI lawyer for your needs today. LegalMatch offers a variety of lawyers in your geographic location to help you combat any criminal charges you may be facing. There is no fee to schedule a consultation. Defend your rights by using LegalMatch today.