In the case of State v. Golotta, the New Jersey Supreme Court did away with the requirement that the police corroborate a 911 caller’s erratic driving report before conducting a motor vehicle stop. The Court reasoned that: a call processed via 911 carries enhanced reliability; the temporary stop of a vehicle is less intrusive than a search; and an intoxicated or erratic driver poses a significant risk of death or injury to himself and the public. The Court found that calls to the 911 system could provide an independent basis for a stop because the caller knows that his phone number will be recorded and that he is committing a criminal offense if he makes a false report. All that is required is that the caller convey that he witnessed an ongoing risk of danger. The call must also be close in time to the first-hand observations. The caller must also provide a sufficient description of the vehicle and its location so that the police can be reasonably certain that they are stopping the correct vehicle.
As a practical matter, anyone with an axe to grind who knows that you are driving after consuming even a small amount of alcohol or drugs can easily get you arrested and charged with a DWI. Even if their “tip” turns out to be false, the falsity does not provide a defense if the police acted reasonably in relying on the tip.
As always, the best DWI defense is a designated driver. Your next best defense is to call Fred Sisto.