In Navarette v. California, the United States Supreme Court recently addressed the constitutionality of police stopping a motorist based on an anonymous 911 call. The decision holds that it depends on the “totality of the circumstances.” In this particular case, the enforcement stop was deemed constitutional based on the following facts:
Use of 911 system (suggestive that caller was not concerned about report being traced back to him);
Detailed description of driving which was consistent with the driving of an impaired motorist;
Detailed description of vehicle (style and license plate)
Description of location and direction of vehicle
Contemporaneous report (it just happened)
The Navarette Court characterized this case as “a close call,” so anything less than the aforementioned circumstances is subject to suppression of evidence.
If you were stopped for no reason other than someone’s purported report of you or your vehicle to the police, it is possible that all evidence obtained as a result of the stop can be suppressed from evidence. This is because the Fourth Amendment generally requires law enforcement to have probable cause to believe you are violating the law before they may stop you without a warrant. In most instances, people who call the police about a purported drunk driver do not provide the kind of detail that was provided in Navarette. If the stop was unconstitutional, then the evidence may be suppressed under the federal exclusionary rule.