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San Francisco DUI Lawyer: Case Law - Anonymous Tipster Cases

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Tip Considered in Connection With Community Caretaking Doctrine

State v. Deccio , 136 Idaho 442, 34 P.3d 1125

A telephone tipster, claiming to be the defendant's wife's best friend, called the police and claimed that the defendant was drunk, suicidal and driving.

The Idaho Court stated that the same test used to deal with anonymous tips in the criminal context should be used in the community caretaking field, and held that the deputy’s enforcement stop of the matching vehicle was illegal where the officer did not observe any vehicle code violations or erratic driving.

“The female caller refused to identify herself or give her address. She merely stated that she was the best friend of Deccio’s wife. The female did not call from home but from a phone at a local bar and indicated that she did not intend to stay there, thus avoiding the possibility of being identified or questioned. There was no indication that the female personally observed or had any first-hand knowledge of Deccio's suicidal or intoxicated condition. The female stated only that she had been speaking with Deccio and his wife and that he had been drinking all day. Moreover, the caller did not distinguish what information she obtained directly from Deccio and what hearsay information she obtained from Deccio's wife concerning Deccio. The magistrate found that, although the caller knew where Deccio lived and the type of vehicle he drove, such information was easily obtainable. The female's prediction that Deccio would not be home if officers were to check did not in itself make the tip more reliable."

The Court concluded that this anonymous tip did not bear sufficient indicia of reliability justifying the stop of defendant's vehicle.

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