Minnesota DWI laws dictate that an officer must first have a reasonable suspicion of any criminal activity in order to merit a traffic stop. A hunch of criminal activity, for example, will not hold up in court. Before determining whether or not the DWI stop met the standard for reasonable suspicion, the court will first examine the quality and quantity of available information available to the officer at the time the stop was made. Common traffic offenses used to justify a traffic stop include reckless driving, speeding, failing to signal, weaving within a traffic lane, and crossing a centerline.
But what about anonymous tips?
Can you potentially face a DWI in Minnesota because another motorist reported your driving behavior to the police or to 911? Over the years, it has repeatedly been asked if anonymous tips are enough to justify a drunk driving traffic stop, and so judges and DWI lawyers have had to take this issue a lot more seriously.
The Fourth Amendment protects both people and property from unreasonable seizures and searches, which means that officers cannot simply stop any vehicle on the road. Minnesota law states that an officer may stop a vehicle only if he or she has a reasonable suspicion of criminality based on facts that are articulable. The arresting officer should be able to explain in court why a person was pulled over.
A tip via 911 is considered as a form of reliable hearsay. This means that police officers are not required to observe a traffic violation firsthand before pulling you over. Minnesota courts may allow a DWI stop based on a tip after taking into consideration certain factors, including the informant’s identity and whereabouts, as well as the informant’s credibility, and the existence of substantiating information and a demonstrated basis for the informant’s knowledge. Whether or not you are convicted of DWI will depend greatly on the quality of information the tipster provided.
Ideally, tipsters should be ready to provide important details such as the location of the incident, the general direction the vehicle was headed, the vehicle’s make, model and color, and the vehicle’s plate number.
If the tipster refuses to provide his or her name or contact details, the police officer will likely be required to have independent observations of any criminal activity in order to validate the stop. This means that the officer must have to locate the suspected vehicle, and then personally observe a traffic violation or any other reason to suspect the driver of driving under the influence or other criminal activity.
Officials from all around the country have had great success with catching drunk drivers thanks to reports from concerned citizens. In fact, numerous states have enacted new laws and implemented programs that reduce alcohol-related accidents.
If, however, you are facing a DWI as a result of a tip received by the police or believe that the police did not have a right to pull you over, it is essential you consult with a DWI lawyer as soon as possible.
Source: Reporting Drunk Drivers, published on http://www.duifoundation.org/support/prevention/reporting/.