The state Supreme Court ruled unanimously Tuesday anonymous tips are sufficient cause for police to stop suspected drunken drivers.
In the case, an anonymous caller to police reported the reckless driving of an 18-wheeler on Interstate 75 in Loudon County. A police officer then found the truck parked on an exit ramp and, after administering field sobriety tests to the driver, arrested him for driving under the influence.
In his argument to the Supreme Court, the driver, Jerry Lee Hanning, contended the officer lacked reasonable suspicion to make his 2003 arrest because he didn’t personally see reckless driving.
In her opinion, Justice Sharon Lee wrote “the anonymous tip reporting reckless driving indicated a sufficiently high risk of imminent injury or death to members of the public to warrant immediate intervention by law enforcement officials.”
“Had the officer refrained from detaining Mr. Hanning and allowed him to resume driving, either Mr. Hanning or another member of the public may well have been killed or injured.”
The court affirmed the decisions of the Court of Criminal Appeals and Criminal Court of Loudon County to deny Hanning’s motion to suppress the evidence obtained during his arrest.