As a DUI lawyer in Jacksonville, Florida, I encounter DUI cases where our client is pulled over after a citizen calls 911. A Colorado police trooper, David Dolan, was arrested while on-duty for DUI after someone called 911 and reported his patrol car was weaving erratically Dolan was eventually pulled over and taken into custody. He was in his uniform with his gun and because he possessed the weapon while allegedly drunk, he is also charged with prohibited use of a weapon.
In Jacksonville and anywhere in Florida, if an anonymous tip comes in via 911, in order for the police to pull a car over, they have to independently develop reasonable suspicion on their own. For example, our Jacksonville DUI Law Firm was hired on a case where someone called 911 because our client asked the complainant for directions and the caller said she smelled alcohol on her breath. The woman called 911 and reported that a woman, our client, was driving a red SUV, asked for directions, and smelled of alcohol. An Atlantic Beach police officer observed our client’s car, a red SUV, at an intersection. Our client was sitting close to the steering wheel, looked confused, and proceeded slowly through the intersection. At that time, the officer stopped our client.
As a Driving Under the Influence Defense Attorney, I immediately attached the invalid stop. After an anonymous tip comes in, the officer has to articulate specific reasons he had reasonable suspicion to believe the suspect is committing a crime. The officer in our case arguably did not have enough. What he observed could just as easily been because our client was lost at the beach.