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Iowa Supreme Courts rules that anonymous tip is not enough to stop drunk driver

Iowa Supreme Court
Iowa Supreme Court

DES MOINES — The Iowa Supreme court ruled on Friday, June 28th, 2013 that an anonymous tip is not sufficient probable cause to pull over a possible drunk driver.

In the court’s split decision, the court ordered a new trial for an Iowa man, Leon Koomia, who was arrested and charged woth operating while intoxicated, second offense.  Chief Justice David Wiggins acknkowledged that “police received an anonymous tip reporting a drunk driver. The officer stopped the vehicle and arrested the driver for operating a motor vehicle while under the influence, second offense. The driver contended the stop was illegal under the United States and Iowa Constitutions and moved to suppress the evidence obtained from the stop. The district court denied the motion, and the court found the driver guilty of the charge. The driver appealed, and we transferred the case to the court of appeals. The court of appeals affirmed the district court ruling on the motion to suppress. We took the case on further review. On further review, we find the stop was illegal under the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution. Accordingly, we suppress all evidence seized from the illegal stop. Moreover, we vacate the decision of the court of appeals, reverse the judgment of the district court, and remand for a new trial consistent with this opinion.”

Koomia was pulled over on June 16th, 2010 in Okoboji, Iowa. Kooima cooperated with the officers. An officer detected the smell of alcohol on Kooima’s breath and several field sobriety tests were conducted, including the horizontal gaze nystagmus test, the walk-and-turn test, and the one-legged-stand test. Because Kooima failed these tests and based upon the anonymous tip, Ryan arrested Kooima for operating while intoxicated and transported him to the Rock Valley Police Department. There, Kooima consented to a breath specimen. A breath test conducted at 1:15 a.m. revealed Kooima’s blood alcohol level was .088.

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