Massachusetts OUI arrest based on 911 call and Chief Justice Roberts speaks out on DUI cases

A Massachusetts DUI stop must be based on the officer having reasonable suspicion that a motorist is committing a traffic violation or some violation of the criminal laws. In a DUI case, if there is not a lawful basis for the stop, a DUI lawyer may be able to have the entire case dismissed as a result of the unconstitutional stop.

Chief Justice Roberts of the United States Supreme Court in a dissenting opinion from the denial of certiorari in a case from Virginia, suggested that he would support a lowering of the standard of reasonable suspicion and allow motor vehicle stops based on anonymous tips even if the police do not witness any traffic violation. The Chief Justice stated that the impact of requiring a tipster to be known to the police or the officer to witness a traffic violation is that a drunk driver gets one free swerve before they can be legally pulled over.

The Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution protects against unreasonable searches and seizure and an anonymous tip has no indication of reliability, that the tip is accurate, that is not made to harass the motorist, for revenge, or that the tipster is being truthful with the police. A truly anonymous tip cannot be lawfully used to stop a motorist for an alleged drunk driving just as an anonymous tipster cannot tell the police that an individual has a weapon on them and justify the police to search the individual. The United States Supreme Court in Florida v. J.L., 529 U.S. 266 (2000) made this holding clear. The Chief Justice is essential trying to create a DUI exception to the Fourth Amendment prohibition against unreasonable search and seizures and established case law.

If a caller does not wish to leave contact information or to identify themselves to a police dispatch, the reliability of the caller is clearly called into question. In fact, few tips are truly anonymous. Courts use the fact that cell phones can be traced to hold that the tip was not anonymous. Many courts will find that a tip is not anonymous if the police could have discovered the identity of the caller or if the caller put their anonymity at risk in any way. Accordingly, in Massachusetts the issue in a DUI tip case will be whether the tip is anonymous; if the tip is truly anonymous, a Massachusetts DUI lawyer should be successful in having the case dismissed based on a violation of the motorist’s Fourth Amendment and Article 14 rights under the Massachusetts Constitution.

If you were stopped based on a 911 call or citizen tip, Attorney DelSignore will explain potential Fourth Amendment defenses that could result in your case being dismissed as a result of the unlawful stop in violation of your Constitutional rights. Attorney DelSignore has handled numerous Massachusetts DUI cases involving 911 tips and will explain your rights and work to prepare your defense. Call for a free consulation, 508-455-4755 or contact Attorney DelSignore by email. Most calls and email are answered immediately.

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