Phone Tips Can Lead to Valid Stops
As a Kansas criminal defense lawyer, I am often asked when a police officer can legally stop a car. Generally, a stop requires an officer to have reasonable suspicion. There are of course exceptions, such as a stop during a
DUI check lane, also known as a sobriety
checkpoint. Another way law enforcement can stop a vehicle, is when they have a reliable tip, such as from a person reporting something via telephone. Such was the situation in City of Pratt v. Stover 272 Kan. 279, 32 P.3d 1143 (2001). In that case, the person was convicted of drunk driving and the issue was appealed to the Supreme Court. The Kansas Supreme Court affirmed the convictions, stating that this specific telephone tip sufficiently reliable to justify the investigatory stop because the caller
gave real name, the caller she particularly described the defendant's vehicle, the caller observed and reported the suspect's driving, and the police officer then saw the vehicle in the place the caller said it was heading. It should be noted that this case does not stand for the proposition that whenever there is a phone tip, the stop is valid. Rather, it stands for the legal proposition, that the court may allow the stop, depending on all factors causing the stop. You criminal defense attorney can evaluate your specific situation.