You were driving home one night when you were surprised to see police sirens behind you.  You weren’t doing anything wrong, so why were they stopping you?  Turns out someone phoned in a tip that you were weaving out of a parking lot.

Can police stop you based on that phone call? 

The answer is yes, provided the tip has sufficient indications of reliability. To determine reliability, a court looks at the totality of the circumstances including the tipster’s veracity, reliability and basis of knowledge. If the tip is reliable, the court then decides whether there was a reasonable suspicion of an ongoing crime.

A court may consider the following:  Was the tipster anonymous or identified?  A call to a police emergency line is not considered anonymous, and calls regarding drunk driving require less corroboration. Was there enough information to be sure that your car was the one identified by the tipster? How much time elapsed between the time of the tip and when police located your car? Was the tip based on contemporaneous eyewitness observations? Was the tip sufficiently detailed to reasonably infer that the tipster actually saw an ongoing motor vehicle offense?

In People v. Lopez, the court rejected a police stop based on an anonymous tip about “a DUI driver heading outbound on Pulaski from 43rd Street.” Because the tipster did not report seeing any specific instances of violations or misconduct, the tip was neither reliable nor did it create a reasonable suspicion of an ongoing crime.

If you have been charged with DUI or a similar offense, contact an experienced DUI attorney immediately. Under certain circumstances, an attorney can petition the court to challenge the reliability of the tip and in turn, the basis for your  stop.

If you have questions about this or another related Illinois criminal or traffic matter, please contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or email        

See also:  People v Meo and People v. Redding.

(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.)

About mdkeenan

A criminal and school law attorney with over 17 years of experience, I have successfully represented clients all over the Chicago area. My practice includes DUI, felony, criminal, misdemeanor, homicide, internet crime, retail theft, traffic offenses, cyberstalking, drug crimes, weapons violations, domestic battery and juvenile crime. I also represent families involving school cases. My clients come from all over the Chicago area including Skokie, Wilmette, Niles, Northbrook, Glenview, Evanston, Winnetka, Highland park, Northfield, Park Ridge, Des Plaines and Mount Prospect. I am a member of the ACLU and the Illinois State Bar Association. I serve as a volunteer for First Defense Legal Aid. Se habla espanol.
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