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Supreme Court ruling may affect DUI laws in Oklahoma

The Supreme Court will soon rule on the case of Navarette v. California to determine whether anonymous tips are enough to justify stopping vehicles. The main Constitutional issue is if an individual's Fourth Amendment rights are more important than the public's safety from reckless drivers. The decision may also change the way DUI laws are prosecuted in the future: If the Court rules that anonymous tips are enough to warrant a vehicle stop, Oklahoma defendants charged with DUI in such cases will have one less strategy to use in their defense.

Navarette v. California began with an anonymous 911 call from a driver who claimed she had been run off the road. Using the caller's description of the vehicle and license, police located the pickup. Although the police did not observe reckless driving firsthand, they pulled the vehicle over. Inside, they discovered a large amount of marijuana.

The defendants in the case pleaded guilty to drug charges, but they argued that police had insufficient cause to stop them. A prior Supreme Court decision, Florida v J.L., supports their position; the Court decided then that police could not use an anonymous tip to search someone for a weapon. However, in that decision the Court also opened the door to a reversal, arguing that, in certain cases where the public's safety was at risk, an anonymous tip could warrant police action.

Regardless of the ruling in Navarette v. California, individuals who suspect that the police may have violated their rights may use this evidence to reduce or dismiss charges against them. Consulting a criminal defense lawyer is the best way to learn the DUI laws in Oklahoma so that one may determine how to construct a solid defense.

Source: MSNBC, "Can anonymous tips justify a police stop?", Dominic Perella, January 21, 2014

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