I was driving to my destination. I turned on to the street of my destination when I noticed a police cruiser tailing me. I continued to drive at the speed limit and within my lane. I feared that I would be pulled over before I reached my destination, but it wasn't until I reached my destination, safely and legally parked, and turned off my car, that the officer turned on his emergency lights. I'm not sure if that is relevant or not but I wasn't prompted to pull over by emergency lights. I was parked at my destination when he decided to turn on the lights. The officer told me that he got a report that I allegedly almost hit a car and thats why I was "pulled over". So my question is, does simply receiving a report from a citizen constitute reasonable suspicion to be pulled over? I don't know much about the law but isn't that called "Hearsay"? By the time the officer began to tail me, I committed no traffic violations. Which is why I'm assuming he didn't turn on his emergency lights until I parked. I can't afford an attorney so I'm just trying to figure out if I should even bother fighting this case at the risk of a more harsh sentence. Any information helps. Thank you.
Yes, a report from a witness who claims you drover erratically will constitute reasonable suspicion to stop your car. It might not constitute probable cause to charge you with a DUI, but it will make a reasonable officer suspicious enough to investigate and that is all the officer needs in order to stop and question you.
Hearsay is an out of court statement that is used IN COURT to prove what is alleged. You weren't in court so your analysis of hearsay isn't accurate or relevant.
What is missing from your story is what the officer learned when they contacted you. If, when the officer talked to you, they did not develop probable cause to believe you were under the influence then they would have let you go - possibly after citing you for careless driving if they really wanted to pursue something based on the other driver's report.
You need to discuss the rest of the story with a defense attorney (don't post details online) and determine your best path to address the charge. This is not a DIY project.
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I agree with the above answer. If you do not get a defense attorney, request the audio version of the phone call / dispatch call where someone called in your car. IF you get a defense attorney he will request this. If you can show there was no call, it could show there was not reasonable suspicion for the stop.
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There is no simple answer to your question. Whether a citizen tip, standing alone, amounts to a reasonable suspicion or probable cause depends on a number of factors, including whether the caller identified himself/herself, and the level of factual detail given by the caller to support their suspicion that the driver was under the influence. For example, an anonymous caller who tells police they should stop a certain car because the driver is drunk would not, standing alone, be probable cause. However, a person who calls the police, identifies himself/herself, and says they saw a person in a bar who was staggering around, and then the person went out to his car, and, as he was pulling out, he smashed into another car and left, would amount to probable cause.
If you stopped at your destination on your own before the officer confronted you, then you were not technically pulled you over. Observing you while parked or walking on a public roadway would then require even less probable cause the pulling you over while driving, and if the officer then next smelled alcohol, he wouldn't even need to citizen complaint to justify checking further, and then in eventually arresting you, if impaired. There is caselaw on law enforcement's duty to verify citizen complaints with their own observations. While required, they needn't do much more than observe on their own to see if at least a few of the details are true. For example, that a car roughly matching the description of yours was on a certain route of travel at a certain time, etc. They will also usually follow you if possible, to try to spot bad driving on their own, again, regardless of the citizen complaint. Either way, we are not supposed to give you legal advice on these websites, nor do we have nearly enough detail here to do. Instead, you should retain an experienced criminal lawyer as soon as possible for the best outcome available to you. Be aware that many of your rights expire in as little as ten days from when you were cited drunk driving cases, so time is of the essence.
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