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Crawford Case Allowed Stop Without Bad Driving

In my legal blogs, I've been discussing reasonable suspicion and what justifies the police to stop a vehicle. As a criminal defense lawyer I litigate drunk driving cases and this issue comes up often. In fact, the stop is one of the first things I evaluate as a DUI attorney.

In 2003, the Supreme Court decided an important case addressing this legal issue, State v. Crawford 275 Kan. 492, 67 P.3d 115 (2003) Initially, the district court suppressed the evidence at the DUI trial, but the Supreme Court reversed an allowed it to come into evidence. The Court held that investigatory stop of the defendant's vehicle was based upon sufficiently reliable information, which created reasonable suspicion, thus justifying the stop.

In this case, law enforcement had been informed of a vehicle that was driving recklessly. The informant provided a speicifc make, model, color and direction of the vehicle. The informant was anonymous. The officer located the vehicle, but did not observe any reckless driving. However, the officer still pulled the driver over and the driver was eventually charged with DUI.

The Court applied a three-part test which was laid out in a former case called, State v. Slater. The three steps are (a) the type of tip or informant involved, (b) the detail given about the observed criminal activity, and (c) whether the police officer's personal observations corroborate the information supplied in the tip. In Crawford, the Supreme Court held that the deputy's investigatory stop of the Defendant's vehicle was legal.

This is a frustrating decision as a Kansas DUI defense lawyer. While there was specific information about the vehicle, there was no zero corroboration regarding any criminal activity. Under this decision, you could be stopped if someone anonymously calls in your make and mode of the vehicle, and then makes false accusations!