Go to navigation Go to content
Phone: 804.673.5600
Bob Battle Law

Get Help Now

Need Help? Have Questions? Fill out the quick contact form below and we'll will be in contact soon!

U.S. Supreme Court Upholds Virginia Supreme Court Ban On DUI Stops Based On Callers' Tips

Comments (0)

On October 20, the Supreme Court cast some doubt on the legal authority of police to stop drivers suspected of driving under the influence based only on a tip from an anonymous caller.


Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. strongly dissented, but the high court allowed a ruling by the Virginia Supreme Court to stand that maintained that police may follow a suspected drunk driver’s vehicle, but may not pull the suspect over until the officer witnesses suspicious activity, such as swerving in a lane.


In his dissent, Roberts noted that hotlines and other services encourage members of the public to report suspected drunk drivers.


The action of the Supreme Court is not a formal ruling; therefore it does not require other states to follow the Virginia Supreme Court ruling. However, the case will likely spawn more legal challenges to police stops solely relying on tips from callers.


The ruling freed Richmond resident Joseph Harris, who was arrested after his green Nissan Altima was reported heading south on Meadowbridge Road. The caller included a partial license plate and his name.


After police stopped Harris, he stumbled out of his vehicle and was noticeably intoxicated as the officer tried to question him. However, the Virginia Supreme Court ruled it an “unreasonable search” to stop and question a driver solely based on a caller’s tip.


Most state courts, including California and Illinois, have upheld the searches based on anonymous tips, provided the vehicle matches the description provided.

Bob Battle
100% of my practice is devoted to serious traffic defense and criminal litigation in state and federal courts
Be the first to comment!

Post a Comment

To reply to this message, enter your reply in the box labeled "Message", hit "Post Message."


Email:* (will not be published)


Notify me of follow-up comments via email.