You had a few drinks at the bar over the course of a few hours. You hadn’t broken any laws on your way home, but the police stopped you and arrested you for DUI. Turns out someone from the bar had called the police to say that you were drunk.
Can you fight the arrest?
Police are allowed to stop drivers based on information received from a third party. However, that information must have some indication of reliability. The officer should consider who the informer is, what they know and how they know what they know. Is the informer a concerned citizen or someone with something to gain? Informers who provide specifics stating what a defendant will do, for example, defendant will leave apartment at 123 Main Street in blue Chevy SUV at 9 p.m. and go to City Park to deliver drugs, are considered to have inside information, and thus may be more reliable.
An anonymous informer is generally considered less reliable, and so, an officer should try to corroborate any tips. While this practice is somewhat relaxed in drunk driving cases, an officer should still attempt to corroborate the information, for example, by following a DUI suspect’s car. In one Illinois case, the court threw out a DUI arrest where the officer had received an anonymous tip, but the officer had not witnessed any driving and arrested the defendant who was parked in a convenience store lot. (People v Smulik). (UPDATE: An April 22, 2014 Supreme Court decision held that an officer need not observe suspicious conduct before making the stop. See our related blog: New Supreme Court Law on Anonymous Tips and DUI.
If you are charged with DUI, contact an experienced attorney immediately. An attorney can review your case to present the best possible defense. Did the officer have probable cause to stop you? Could the officer rely on the informant’s information? Did the officer observe impaired driving? In some cases, an attorney can petition the court to have the arrest suppressed.
If you have questions about this or another related criminal or traffic matter, please contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
(Besides Skokie, Matt Keenan also serves the communities of Arlington Heights, Chicago, Deerfield, Des Plaines, Evanston, Glenview, Morton Grove, Mount Prospect, Niles, Northbrook, Park Ridge, Rolling Meadows, Wilmette and Winnetka.)