Utah Court of Appeals Issues Troubling Decision in DUI Case Regarding Anonymous Informants

Today the Utah Court of Appeals issued a decision ruling that anonymous informants need not identify the crimes they witness with any specificity.

In Salt Lake City vs. Keith Street the Mr. Street appealed from his conviction for DUI after the trial court denied his motion to suppress evidence.  In Mr. Street’s case a woman who was at Liberty Park with her children approached a police officer and told him that a man was passed out – Street – in his vehicle and she believed he may be intoxicated.

The police officer approached the car, which was pulling out, and the police officer signaled to the car to stop.  The officer never witnessed any erratic driving and simply stopped the car based on what the anonymous informant had told the police officer.

In reviewing whether the stop was appropriate the Court of Appeals found that (1) the woman was reliable, (2) the detail she gave the officer was sufficient to create reasonable suspicion, and (3) that the police officer’s personal observations were consistent enough with the little information that the woman gave him to justify the stop.

Essentially the Court of Appeals with this decision has made it near impossible to challenge reasonable suspicion based on an anonymous information’s tip.  This is yet another set back for civil liberties in Utah.

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