AR: An anonymous call to police with extraneous detail about a possible DWI was RS

An anonymous call to police (not 911) with extraneous detail about a possible DWI was reasonable suspicion. Gross v. State, 2020 Ark. App. 432 (Sept. 23, 2020):

An anonymous caller contacted the nonemergency police number and reported that the caller smelled whiskey on the breath of a mail carrier that morning. This call was not made on the 911 system but was instead made directly to the police. The call was recorded. The caller made a positive identification of the driver by name and truck number and told the dispatcher that the truck would be operating in a particular area of Springdale. The call was made at 8:41 am. The caller stated that he was Gross’s coworker, that he had previously raised concerns to the postmaster about Gross drinking and driving, and that his call was based on advice he received after asking Springdale police officer Mike Hendricks what he should do if he noticed that a postal worker was drinking and driving.

. . .

There is no requirement that the caller use any magic words or phrases to indicate that Gross was intoxicated. Clearly, the caller had enough of a concern that Gross was driving while intoxicated that he (1) took the extraordinary step of making the call to police to report it, (2) noted in the call that he had previously raised concerns to the postmaster that Gross was drinking and driving, and (3) noted that he had asked Officer Hendricks what to do if a coworker was driving after drinking. Moreover, in previous cases, we have cited the odor of alcohol on a driver’s breath as evidence of intoxication. Felgate v. State, 63 Ark. App. 76, 80, 974 S.W.2d 479, 481 (1998) (although all parties agreed that Felgate was not driving erratically before the stop, both police officers at the scene smelled alcohol on his breath). “Our rules provide that an investigatory stop may be made upon a reasonable suspicion which need not rise to the level required to establish probable cause for an arrest.” Potter v. State, 342 Ark. 621, 626, 30 S.W.3d 701, 703 (2000). Therefore, we find no reversible error in the court’s denial of Gross’s motion to suppress because the anonymous caller provided sufficient information to give rise to reasonable suspicion that Gross was driving while intoxicated.

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