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Supreme Court indicates a change in drunk driving stops

Supreme Court indicates a change in drunk driving stops

Every person in the United States has certain rights that are guaranteed to them by the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. In particular, the Fourth Amendment protects against unreasonable searches and seizures by the government. What this means for people in New Jersey is that unless police have a warrant or some extraordinary circumstance, they cannot stop or search you. One place where officers can stop people without a warrant, however, is on the road.

If New Jersey police witness a driver acting erratically or otherwise showing signs of impairment, they can stop the driver. If they then determine that the driver may be intoxicated, they will generally arrest him or her and charge the driver with driving while intoxicated. But what happens if they don't witness any kind of driving that would indicate intoxication?

Prior to a recent Supreme Court decision, police could not just pull people over and check to see if they had been drinking. After this new decision, however, it would appear that they can, so long as they have an anonymous tip reporting behavior that would indicate the driver is intoxicated. While the specifics of when exactly a tip will be enough to pull someone over, it would appear that the Supreme Court is now giving New Jersey police more power to stop drivers.

It will be interesting to see where this opinion takes us, especially since it does seem to go against long-standing precedent set by the court. Whether anonymous tips will be enough for other searches and seizures also may be up in the air.

Source: The Atlantic, “Can an Anonymous Tip Get You Arrested for Drunk Driving?” Garrett Epps, May 14, 2014

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