October 20, 2009 - U.S. High Court Refuses to Review DUI Case

U.S. Chief Justice John Roberts said Tuesday his colleagues have given drunken drivers "one free swerve" by refusing to review a Virginia DUI case.

The court majority did not comment on the decision, The Christian Science Monitor reported. Prosecutors appealed a state Supreme Court ruling in Virginia vs. Harris that an anonymous telephone call was not enough to justify a police stop.

Four of the nine justices must vote in favor of reviewing a specific case. Roberts, joined by Justice Antonin Scalia, issued an unusual written dissent.

"The conflict is clear and the stakes are high," Roberts wrote. "The effect of the rule below will be to grant drunk drivers 'one free swerve' before they can legally be pulled over by police. It will be difficult for an officer to explain to the family of a motorist killed by that swerve that the police had a tip that the driver of the other car was drunk, but that they were powerless to pull him over, even for a quick check."

The driver argued his constitutional protection against unreasonable searches and seizures was violated because the police who pulled him over observed no problems with his driving.

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