In the recent case of Navarette v. California, No. 12-9490 (U.S. Apr. 22, 2014), the United States Supreme Court held that an anonymous tip can support an investigatory stop in the absence of independent corroboration by the arresting officer under the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution. In the fourteen years between Navarette and Florida v. J.L., 529 U.S. 266 (2000), in which the Court last addressed anonymous tips, lower courts across the country struggled to determine how United States Supreme Court precedents on anonymous tips apply in the context of drunk or reckless driving. Illinois courts in particular struggled with this question in the absence of any direct guidance from the Illinois Supreme Court or the United States Supreme Court. This Article will examine how Illinois courts facing the question of the propriety of a Terry stop based on an anonymous tip of drunk driving have relied on cases in the slightly different context of anonymous tips of possession of contraband such as guns and drugs, but have adapted the analysis of these cases to apply to a situation such as drunk driving in which the crime being committed presents an immediate danger to public safety. The Article will show what other factors—namely, (1) the degree to which the tip was truly anonymous and whether a means exists of puncturing the tipster’s shield of anonymity, (2) the specificity of the tip and the level of factual detail provided, and (3) the level of immediate danger to the public presented by the conduct described in the tip—courts must consider in order to determine whether an officer properly relied on an anonymous tip of drunk driving in making an investigatory stop. In light of the fact that courts have held that less rigorous corroboration of the tip is required where the tip describes drunk driving, an act that poses a grave and immediate danger to the public, officers may act quickly to protect the public from potentially drunk drivers so long as the tip contains some minimal indicia of reliability.
Terry Stops, Anonymous Tips, and Driving Under the Influence: A Study of Illinois Law,
Loy. U. Chi. L. J.
Available at: https://lawecommons.luc.edu/luclj/vol45/iss4/5