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State Court Affirms DUI After 911 Call

The Utah Supreme Court has upheld a DUI conviction of a man reported by his girlfriend through a 911 call, saying the caller provided enough reasonable suspicion as a witness to justify a sergeant’s stop of the suspect. The decision points out how comprehensive questioning during a 911 call can be a valuable legal asset after an arrest is made. Jose Roybal had appealed his 2005 conviction, claiming the dispatcher didn’t ask the girlfriend several key questions, including how much alcohol Roybal had consumed and over what period of time. The appeal also raised the issue of the girlfriend’s reliability, since she was involved in the incident However, the state Supreme Court ruled the 911 call information was sufficient to justify the stop. The girlfriend’s personal involvement, “neither weakens, nor strengthens,” her reliability, the court said. She gave her full name, provided first-hand observations and fully described the vehicle. “Once a reasonable suspicion is reached by the originator of the information–-in this case, the dispatcher–-the responding police officer is entitled to rely on the information unless the officer’s personal observations or interaction with the suspect present indications to the contrary,” the court wrote. Download (pdf) the Supreme Court and appellate court decisions here.

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