PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — A phone call to police from her 14-year-old daughter was sufficient cause to detain a woman suspected of driving under the influence, the South Dakota Supreme Court says.
In a 4-1 decision publicly released Thursday, the justices agreed with a circuit judge that the teen’s tip was enough for Spearfish police to halt Malia Ann Rosa in a local store’s parking lot. Rosa was arrested after a sergeant said he smelled alcohol inside the van.
Rosa asked Circuit Judge Eric Strawn to suppress the evidence obtained during the stop because it violated her constitutional right against unreasonable search and seizure. Strawn ruled against her. Chief Justice Steven Jensen wrote the Supreme Court’s majority opinion upholding the judge.
“Here, we conclude the officers reasonably relied upon the information A.R. provided, as it suggested A.R. had a genuine concern for her mother,” Chief Justice Jensen stated.
He continued, “There was nothing to indicate that A.R. had any other motive for reporting to law enforcement. Moreover, the officers did not merely rely on A.R. and Rosa’s familial relationship to form reasonable suspicion to conduct the stop. The officers also corroborated A.R.’s tip with their personal observations of the vehicle at Dollar Tree and Rosa leaving within minutes after their arrival.”
Rosa had two prior DUI convictions. The judge found her guilty of DUI and open container and placed her on probation for two years with the condition that she spend five days in jail.
Justice Scott Myren disagreed with the majority. He stated that the officers didn’t have reasonable suspicion to make the stop.
“A.R. told dispatch that during the phone call, her mother ‘sounded drunk but I couldn’t tell.’ She did not specify when the phone call had occurred. A.R. said that Rosa had a history of drinking and disappearing. Additionally, she said that Rosa had been at Dollar Tree for several hours and had a white van. She did not claim any knowledge that Rosa had been driving while intoxicated. None of these statements describe Rosa engaging in any criminal activity,” Justice Myren wrote.
He added, “Nevertheless, based on the mother/daughter relationship, the majority concludes that law enforcement could reasonably infer that A.R. had previously observed her mother intoxicated and could reliably identify the state of her mother’s intoxication during a telephone call. Moreover, based on the mother/daughter relationship, the majority assumes a goodfaith motivation for her report. I respectfully disagree because neither the inference nor the assumption is reasonable based on the information known to the officers.”