Citizen Informants vs. Anonymous Informants in DUI Cases

Citizen Informants vs. Anonymous Informants in DUI Cases

Typically, a law enforcement officer’s own personal observations are the basis for a vehicle stop, but this is not always the case. Sometimes, another person informs the police of suspected criminal activity.

Basically, this means that the informant witnessed some driving behavior he or she felt was in violation of the law and called the police to file a report. This other person may wish to identify him or herself or may decline to do so. In either case, the police will investigate what the informant reported. However, if a stop and subsequent arrest result from an informant’s observations, an experienced Orange County DUI attorney may be able to challenge the stop based upon the fact that no law enforcement officer personally observed the alleged behavior.

It is important to realize that if the reason for a police stop is deemed unconstitutional, any and all evidence resulting from that stop is inadmissible; therefore, a conviction would be very unlikely.

If your Orange County DUI attorney attempts to exclude evidence based upon an improper stop made based upon an informant’s tip, the first question the court will look to is whether the informant identified him or herself or was anonymous. Courts give far greater credibility to informants who identify themselves.

Although there are many reasons why an informant may wish to remain anonymous, the logic behind the court’s judicial philosophy makes sense. Individuals who identify themselves to the authorities are more likely to tell the truth. Remember, there are penalties for perjury, and it is unlikely someone will report false information and then give his or her real name.

Further, the more detailed the informant’s information is, the greater weight the court will give to the police officer’s reason for the stop. For example, an accurate description of the vehicle or a correct reporting of the license plate number will make the informant’s tip far more credible to the eye of the court.

However, it must be noted that information from an identified citizen informant is not always found sufficient to support a DUI stop. Any questions you may have about the basis of a police stop are best addressed by an Orange County DUI attorney. For a free consultation with experienced Orange County DUI attorney Mike Coffey, simply fill out the form on this page.