California court OKs anonymous tip use for law enforcement

| 6/30/2006

In a landmark case, the California Supreme Court ruled this week with a split decision that law enforcement officers are allowed to pull over drivers based on anonymous tips about alleged drunken driving.

On Monday, June 26, the court voted 4-3 that the California Highway Patrol had reasonable cause to stop Susan Wells near Bakersfield, CA, after receiving an anonymous tip by phone that she was driving erratically, the Los Angeles Times reported.

A few minutes after the tip was received, a CHP officer spotted Wells’ vehicle and pulled her over, but did not observe any signs of intoxication. However, according to court documents, Wells failed a field sobriety test.

Following her arrest, a search of the vehicle turned up heroin. She was arrested and sentenced to 16 months in prison, but appealed, which eventually led to the high court’s decision.