Does an officer need to independently witness you driving after an anonymous tip is submitted in order to pull you over?

Asked 12 months ago - Southfield, MI

Another driver submitted an anonymous tip that I allegedly almost struck another vehicle. That driver followed me home and gave my location to dispatch. He identified himself by his first name only. The officers did not arrive to my home until I was out of the vehicle and getting something out of my trunk, without ever seeing me drive. They
immediately questioned me and would not allow me to leave, and later arrested me for an owi. Does the witness following me and waiting for officers give him additional credibility or was my interrogation illegal?

Attorney answers (6)

  1. Gerald R Stahl

    Pro

    Contributor Level 16

    14

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . The answer is no. However, you certainly have an interesting case. The officer only has to have probable cause you were driving. For instance, you are parked on the side of the HWY and out of gas. You are alone, it is your car, and the keys are in your pocket. The officer would have probable cause you drove to that point. Now the officer does not have any other information unless you volunteer it or answer questions. Often time the clients admit to driving because it is so obvious. For instance, the cop might come up to your car and ask how long have you been there. In your case, this other driver will be able to testify to your driving. Did you comment to the cop about the other guy chasing you or following you? However, you have an interesting case. Get a lawyer. Good Luck!

  2. Scott Matthew Aaronson

    Contributor Level 13

    12

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . While the answer is no, you have a case that is unusual and could possibly be won at trial. They must prove beyond a reasonable doubt it was you driving. If they cant find the anonymous tipster or if the anonymous tipster cannot identify you as the driver you could win at trial.

    I'd speak with a competent DUI lawyer from Southfield or Metro Detroit ASAP.

    -Attorney Scott Aaronson
    877-I-CAN-WIN
    Free Consultations
    Direct: 248-956-1165

  3. Daniel Nelson Deasy

    Contributor Level 20

    12

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . Short answer -- no -- so long as there is someone that sees you, there is certainly enough evidence to prosecute. Anyone charged with DUI needs a criminal defense attorney!

    In no way am I offering you legal advice, and in no way has my comment created an attorney-client relationship.... more
  4. Kathryn Mary Holton

    Contributor Level 18

    11

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . No and appears all legal but would have to review the evidence to make a certain legal analysis.

    Providing general answers are meant to help the poster to understand some complex legal concepts and in no way... more
  5. Andrew Charles Lapres

    Contributor Level 16

    9

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . No, the police don't have to actually see you drive in order for you to be convicted of OWI. If the prosecutor can prove by circumstantial evidence that you were driving and that at the time your blood-alcohol level was above 0.08% or that alcohol materially and substantially effected your ability to drive, you can be convicted. For example, single car crashes with the only person on scene being outside of the vehicle when police respond.

    You're interrogation is not illegal if you were not in custody. This is a highly fact sensitive situation. Traffic stops are generally not considered in-custody interrogations. However, you weren't subjected to a traffic stop, as you were in your driveway. Since you were at your house, it leans toward not in-custody, but the fact that the police wouldn't let you leave might matter depending on how it was done. (i.e. wouldn't let you drive away or wouldn't let you walk away and go into your house).

    What you admitted to and consented to will also be important as your contact with police took place on your own private property. Your situation is interesting and could go a lot of different ways. There is no way to tell which way without more information. You should consult a criminal defense attorney experienced in OWI cases in your area.

  6. David B. Carter Jr.

    Pro

    Contributor Level 20

    6

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . No. Under these facts I would fight it unless they give you an offer you just can not refuse.

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