DWI and Anonymous Tips – State v. Golatta
A few minutes ago, the New Jersey Supreme Court released it decision in State v. Golatta. (By the way, the defendant in this case is NOT the famous heavyweight boxer of the same name.) The case involved a traffic stop by local police based upon an anonymous tip through the 9-1-1 system. The tipster reported dangerous and erratic driving by a person in a truck. The police stopped a vehicle matching the description of truck without witnessing any dangerous driving or without taking any steps to corroborate the information from the tipster. The Appellate Division found no reasonable suspicion for the motor vehicle stop based upon the lack of corroboration of the tip.
The New Jersey Supreme Court has reserved the Appellate Division. The Justices held that the State’s 9-1-1 system is inherently reliable in terms of the information it receives from tipsters. Secondly, there is a reduced expectation of privacy when a motorist drives in public. Finally, there is a reduced need to corroborate tips, given the extreme danger that drunk drivers pose to the public.
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