Law enforcers may stop and detain drivers based on anonymous and uncorroborated tips that they were driving while intoxicated, the California Supreme Court ruled 4 to 3, says the Los Angeles Times. The court said the California Highway Patrol acted legally when it pulled over a woman even though its officer did not personally note any evidence of impaired driving. The officer was responding to a telephone tip that the van was weaving. The driver, Susan Wells, 49, failed a sobriety test and was arrested. A subsequent search of her van found heroin. She was sentenced to 16 months in prison.
Elizabeth Campbell, an attorney for Wells, said California’s court went further than any court in the country in giving law enforcement the ability to pull over motorists based on anonymous tipsters. Wells will appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, which has ruled that police cannot pat down someone to search for a weapon based on an anonymous tip. Monday’s decision was the latest in a string of rulings that give police broader powers in searches.