Can I Get Pulled Over If Someone Calls the Cops in Tennessee?

Can I Get Pulled Over If Someone Calls the Cops?Law enforcement officers go through training to learn how to determine if a driver is driving while drunk or intoxicated, meaning that they are typically aware of several different behaviors that may indicate that a driver is impaired. However, the general rule is that in order for an officer to stop a vehicle and assess the situation, they must be able to show that they had reasonable suspicion.

Common examples of reasonable suspicion given by officers who pull over drivers for drunk or drugged driving is that the vehicle was swerving between lanes, or the driver was driving recklessly. However, if you are pulled over because someone called the cops or made an anonymous tip, well – that’s a different story.

So, what happens when someone calls the cops on me while I’m driving?

There are many different types of calls that people can make to law enforcement. One of the most frequent types of calls is called an anonymous 9-1-1 call. An anonymous 9-1-1 call is when another driver, pedestrian, or anyone else nearby who sees a driver or vehicle driving recklessly or doing anything out of the ordinary calls 9-1-1 to request that a police officer check on the situation.

This type of call may help officers find your vehicle, but the officer must see with their own eyes the reckless or dangerous behavior that the caller called about before they can pull you over. This means that if your car is in motion and you are not violating any laws or showing any reckless behavior that may harm other people in any way on the roadways, the officer most likely cannot pull you over simply because someone made an anonymous 9-1-1 call about you.

However, if your car is stopped, there is a chance that an officer may be legally allowed to get out of their vehicle and investigate the situation. Therefore, if you stop at a store, gas station, or even in a parking lot, a cop may be able to approach your vehicle and start asking you questions. While the officer may have not necessarily stopped you in this type of scenario, they still need some type of reasonable suspicion to “stop” you from going about your day, approach you, and proceed to ask you questions.

What should I do if an officer approaches me or my car even though I stopped on my own?

If an officer approaches you or your vehicle, remember that you do not have to answer any questions, do not have to consent to a breath test, and do not have to exit your car. You are legally allowed to ask if you are being detained; if the answer is no, politely wish the officer a good evening and drive away. If the answer is yes, the only thing you need to do is ask for a criminal defense lawyer. At the Law Offices of Adrian H. Altshuler & Associates, our Franklin criminal defense attorneys will likely want to take an in-depth and closer look at the details of the officer’s approach and discussion with you because there is a possibility that it is illegal.

We will also request to hear the anonymous 9-1-1 call which led the officer to following and starting an investigation. The information provided by the anonymous caller could play a significant role in determining whether the officer approached you and your vehicle without reasonable suspicion.

There is a legal case, State v. Wascher, in which an anonymous 9-1-1 call led a police officer to watch a driver at a gas station. The driver walked from the gas station to his car, which is when the cop asked him to see his driver’s license. Our team likes to use this case as an example because the cop may have had grounds to ask the driver about their reckless driving, which was mentioned in the anonymous 9-1-1 call, but it was illegal to ask the driver to see his driver’s license. As a result, the police officer was required to show that they had probable cause instead of reasonable suspicion because the driver was considered to be “seized” or “restrained.”

The reason that he was considered to be seized or restrained is because he felt forced to talk to the cop since he could not get back into his vehicle and drive away without having his driver’s license back. If you have been approached by an officer while your vehicle is stopped, you should not automatically assume that the officer did everything lawfully correct. There are many minor facts and details that your criminal defense lawyer may uncover and use to show that the officer did not have valid grounds to begin investigating or approach you in any manner, which could result in your case being thrown out or your charges being lowered.

What rights do I have when pulled over on suspicion of DUI after an anonymous call?

When an officer receives an anonymous call that leads to enough reasonable suspicion to pull a driver over for suspected drunk or drugged driving, the driver still has certain rights that they must be made aware of. The following are a few of these rights:

  • The right to be silent: When an officer stops you, they will likely ask you many questions. For example, they may want to know where you are going or why you are driving so late at night. However, you have the choice to stay quiet and not answer these questions, but you must verbally inform them that you are exercising your right to remain silent.
  • The right to refuse a search: Some officers will ask if they can search your car. If this happens, you can refuse to allow them to conduct the search. However, if they have probable cause, there is a good chance that they will still search your car even without your permission.
  • The right to request a lawyer: If the officer arrests you, it is important to know and understand that you have the right to request a lawyer be present. If you cannot afford a lawyer on your own, the court will appoint one for you.

If you are facing DUI charges because someone called the cops on you, it is crucial that you hire a Franklin DUI defense lawyer at your earliest convenience. These types of charges can affect your life in various ways for several years to come. However, with a skilled attorney from the Law Offices of Adrian H. Altshuler & Associates by your side, you can have peace of mind knowing that your case is in good legal hands. We will listen to your experience, collect evidence, and examine every little fact and detail of your DUI stop to determine whether reasonable suspicion or probable cause was present. To get started, please call our office or submit our contact form. We have offices in Columbia, Franklin, and Brentwood, and serve clients throughout Tennessee.