Tow Drivers Need to Earn Livings Too - DUI Appeal Report - 4/11/2016

The 9th District finds a tow truck driver to be a known citizen informant whose tip is sufficiently reliable to justify a traffic stop.

State v. Woody, 2016 Ohio 631 (9th Dist.).

February 22, 2016

A caller who provided his name and contact information reported a possible intoxicated driver, claiming he was "all over the road"  An officer located the driver, observed him weaving within his lane, and initiated a traffic stop.  Woody, the driver, was ultimately charged with an OVI.  After a suppression motion was denied, Woody entered a no contest plea.  Woody brought this appeal, arguing in part that there was insufficient evidence to establish reasonable suspicion for an investigatory stop.

The 9th District reviewed that an officer may rely on a tip, if the tip itself has sufficient indicia of reliability to justify the investigative stop.  In evaluating this, a court should review whether the tip came from (a) an anonymous tipster; (b) a known confidential informant, or (c) an identified citizen informant.  While independent corroboration may well be needed for anonymous tips, this may not be necessary for identified citizen informants.  The tip in this case was determined to be from a known citizen informant, who the officer recognized as a tow truck driver.  Finding the informant sufficiently reliable, and in light of the officer's own observations, the 9th District denied Woody's appeal.

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