Drunk Driving Defense Update: 911 Tips can Result in New Jersey DWI-DUI Arrests

There are any number of events that can lead up to a drunk driving arrest — speeding, improper lane change, a burned-out headlight or tail lamp — almost anything can trigger a traffic stop by a municipal police officer or state trooper. Of the many different scenarios that can eventually lead to DWI or drug DUI charges, one situation that has become more and more frequent of late is the phoning in of a bad driver complaint to local police departments or the state patrol.

Over the past decade, law enforcement agencies have received more and more phone calls from concerned motorists who wish to report suspected drunk or impaired drivers. This has become extremely easy for almost anyone to do thanks to the explosion of cellphone and smartphones. More often than some may think, anonymous callers alert police of some suspected intoxicated driver on the parkway, surface streets or interstates, after which an arrest may be forthcoming.

For any driver who ends up receiving a drunk driving summons from a patrolman following a call from one of these frequent tipsters, there may be a lingering question of whether the initial police stop can be legally justified. To be sure, in order for a drunk driving arrest to be valid, there are indeed evidentiary and legal requirement that should be met. In general, because of the myriad of possible factors, it is wise to consult with a New Jersey DWI attorney; after which he or she will be able to analyze the facts surrounding the “tipster” situation and make a determination or whether or not the arrest (and the charges levied) were based on correct legal principals.

From a legal standpoint, police officers are allowed to pull over a vehicle that matches the description given by a tipster who phoned in a report of a possibly drunk motorist. However, by law, the police must have some information that would otherwise justify such a DWI police stop. This information may include an observation of erratic driving, or a violation of some type of traffic law — anything that that would legally justify a traffic stop.

As professional drunken driving trial lawyers, my legal team is well aware of instances where a municipal patrolman or state trooper has acted on an anonymous tip and pulled a vehicle over, then arrested, the person behind the wheel without observing any traffic violation or external signs of intoxicated driving. Under such conditions, our court system has identified four factors that can justify a DWI arrest as valid, including:

— The allegedly intoxicated motorist posed a great risk to the public — It is rare for other people to false reports of drunken driving — Being pulled over by the police is not an especially large imposition — The police officer must believe in the veracity of the tip
A qualified drunk driving lawyer will be able to assist accused individuals with their defense. Following a detailed evaluation of one’s case, an experienced New Jersey DWI lawyer will be able to determine if there is reason to challenge the state’s evidence or the procedures followed by the police in effecting the arrest.