Is it fair for police in Hudson to pull you over without seeing you do anything wrong? Most people would say “no.” What about if police received an anonymous tip? There is still the risk that police officers would stop the wrong car or that the person who made the tip was just trying to get you in trouble. Unfortunately, the states don’t exactly have a uniform answer as to whether the police need to witness you doing something illegal before they pull you over, which is why the Supreme Court of the United States is taking the question up early next year.
The question itself is not new. Four years ago, the court was presented with a similar question. A defendant had been charged with drunk driving after police stopped him based on a tip they had received. The state Supreme Court agreed with the defendant that police couldn’t stop him without more than an anonymous tip. The Supreme Court of the United States ultimately chose not to take up the state’s appeal.
At the time, Chief Justice John Roberts wrote that the court should have heard the case. In his opinion, the court had the ability to do more to stop drunk drivers before they caused an accident by pulling over cars solely on anonymous tips about drunk driving.
It is unknown how the court is expected to decide the case that is now before it. If the justices follow Roberts’s lead, however, there could be a number of drivers in Hudson pulled over on tips alone.
Source: The Associated Press, “Court: Is anonymous tip enough for traffic stop?” Mark Sherman, Oct. 1, 2013