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Can the police make a traffic stop based "Solely" on a third party observation?

San Mateo, CA |

This is my third attempt to answer my question. The replies have been informative, however I think additional details are needed.
If a third party called the police to say I "appeared intoxicated" but "did not" witnessed swerving or any signs of impairment but solely on their opinion that I "appeared intoxicated", can the police stop me? The officer said I stopped you because someone called and said that I "appeared intoxicated".
I did fail the breathalyzer, but I believe it was because of mouth alcohol (Mouthwash) trapped in my dentures. I really did not consume any alcoholic beverages that morning or in the last two weeks prior to being stopped.
My question is "can the police stop a motorist without the ploice witnessing a violation solely on a third part informant? Thank you in advance

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Attorney answers 4


They don't have to have you dead to rights to stop you. If the informant is deemed reliable, ,which usually requires that they give their name, that could be enough. However, only a DUI Lawyer with full information about your case can analyze the situation. You are not going to find a definitive answer here.


I know you've posted this question several times. You've gotten a case citation and detailed answers.

In all areas of the law, but very much so in Fourth Amendment issues, a small change in the facts can change the analysis and answer.

Can an anonymous informant be enough? Possibly, but if it is as you state - an appearance only with no violations of law, then I would think your attorney would attack the basis for the stop. Your attorney will have access to all the necessary documentation - the reports, patrol videos, recordings, 911 calls, dispatch logs, etc. They can then do a FULL analysis of the case and proceed from there.

If it really is that you "appeared intoxicated" and nothing else, I don't see how that could possibly fly. How does an intoxicated person look? With no "bad" driving, what basis do they have to stop you? What's next? A smiling person can be stopped because they "look high"?

You've asked... you've gotten answers. You're just going beyond what can possibly be determined online. It's time to consult face to face with your attorney.


P v. Wells is the case that seems most on point. the person who calls in anonymously must specifically identify the car with and must see a a traffic violation that requires an immediate response and the cop must at least observe some corroboration of the call but not nece3ssarily a traffic violation.

The answer to your question is yes BUT a really good, experienced lawyer may be able to suppress evidence of the stop and subsequent tests. There is a plethora of really good lawyers in yor area. A good place to look for one is on the California DUI Lawyers website.


The answer, as you might have guessed, is "maybe." However, traffic stops made based upon a third-party report iare not very common because they must be based on the standard "probable cause." A police officer must have "articulable facts” or a "substantial possibility” that a traffic violation has occured. This standard is difficult to meet when you are relying on someone else's information. There must be a significant amout of detail along with the basis of the information to be considered for a stop without more.

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