Can an officer make alegal traffic stop based on a third party complaint?

A traffic stop was made based on a third party claim that I “appeared intoxicated”, not because of my driving but because of my appearance. Does the officer need to observe my driving and base his decision to stop me based on what he observes?

Asked on August 22, 2011 California


FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

If law enforcement in the state of California receives information from a third party advising that a crime may have possibly been in the process of occurring, under exisiting state law, law enforcement is entitled to (and is required) to perform an investigation to protect the public at large even if the stopping officer did not initially see the event leading to the third party complaint.

If in fact law enforcement received a complaint from a third party that you "appeared intoxicated" while driving a motor vehicle, law enforcement is required to respond to the area where you were reported, observe whether or not there is reason to stop you and either stop you for further inquiry or not.

Good question.

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