Law enforcement’s battle against intoxicated drivers is always escalating. In southern California, we’re all seeing more DUI patrols and more sobriety checkpoints. But in Palm Beach County, Florida, some are thinking that law enforcement has gone over the line. If you report a drunk driver in Palm Beach County, you can collect $100. While California isn’t – yet – handing out cash for calls, if you’re charged with DUI in Orange County, you’ll need to get legal help immediately and call an experienced Orange County DUI defense attorney.
The impulse to make our roads safer is a good impulse. No one denies that intoxicated drivers pose a real and present danger to the general public. The problem is that Palm Beach County’s “Mobile Eyes” program encourages people to call 911 on drivers who may or may not be drunk simply because there is a possibility of grabbing a hundred bucks. Trained doctors and police officers can’t determine if a person is drunk simply by looking, so it’s naïve to expect that others can. The reality is that no one is actually reporting drunk driving; they’re reporting bad driving that they assume is drunk driving. Conceivably, anyone could be arrested for suspicion of DUI simply because someone else wants to make $100 for reporting a driving mistake.
Does an anonymous tip give law enforcement the right to stop a driver when the police have seen nothing to indicate that the driver is drunk? Historically, the answer was no, but since April 2014, the answer is yes. In Navarette v. California, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that anonymous tips give law enforcement the legal right to pull someone over on suspicion of DUI even when the reliability of the tip can’t be confirmed and the police have not seen any indication of impaired driving. What this means for Orange County drivers – now more than ever – is that if you’re charged with DUI for any reason at all, you should arrange immediately to speak with an experienced Orange County DUI defense attorney.