NAPLES DUI LAW – DUI Arrests Resulting From Concerned Drivers Calling 9-1-1

NAPLES DUI LAW- DUI Arrests Resulting From Concerned Drivers Calling 9-1-1

Can an officer pull a vehicle over for DUI based upon a call from another concerned driver?

It depends.  A law enforcement officer must have a valid reason to pull someone over when investigating a possible DUI (for general information on this topic, please refer to Validity of Traffic Stops).  This article deals specifically with DUI arrests that are the result of a concerned driver that dials 9-1-1.

When someone dials 9-1-1 from their cell phone to report a drunk driver, the emergency operator will dispatch for officers to respond.  The operator will usually ask for the location, direction of travel and a description of the suspected vehicle including the make and model.  The responding officers will then usually conduct a traffic stop on the vehicle, which sometimes results in a DUI arrest or an arrest for some other violation of the law such as driving on a suspended license.  These traffic stops are not always legally valid and, if they are not, a DUI attorney may file what’s known as a Motion to Suppress.  If the motion is granted, then all evidence gathered after the stop may be suppressed leaving the prosecution without sufficient evidence to prove the case.

One of the biggest factors that determine whether a stop based on a report of a drunk driver is legally valid is whether the caller identified himself or herself to the emergency operator.  If the caller provided his or her name and contact information, then the officer can typically immediately stop the vehicle in order to investigate without personally witnessing any of the suspicious driving behavior.  This type of caller, known as a “citizen informant,” is considered by the courts to be generally reliable since they are providing their identity and thereby subjecting themselves to be held accountable.  However, callers that refuse to give their identity when reporting a suspected drunk driver are called “anonymous tipsters.”  Sometimes these callers refuse to provide their information out of fear of retaliation or of getting dragged to court as a witness.  Regardless of the reason, in these situations the officer must first personally witness suspicious driving before conducting a lawfully valid stop.

It is important to note that simply because the caller identified himself or herself does not necessarily mean that the stop was lawful.  A qualified DUI attorney should obtain an audio copy of the 9-1-1 call to verify that the caller provided a sufficient description of the suspected vehicle and its behavior, otherwise, there may still be the potential for a successful Motion to Suppress.  For more information or to contact a Collier County criminal defense attorney or DUI attorney in Naples, Florida, please call 239-775-1004.

Juan Escobar

Naples Criminal Defense Attorney


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