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What is a REDDI report, and can it be used as the legal basis for a traffic stop?
A REDDI report (the acronym stands for "Report Every Dangerous/Drunk Driver Immediately") is a way for civilians to notify law enforcement when they notice dangerous driving conduct. They also may serve as part of the legal justification for a police officer stopping a driver to investigate a traffic offense or even a DUI.
But what separates these REDDI reports from simple anonymous tips, and what makes them reliable enough to allow an officer to stop a vehicle?
In states which employ REDDI-type programs, citizens may choose to identify themselves when making a report, or they may do so anonymously. The U.S. Supreme Court has noted that anonymous tips may provide reasonable suspicion necessary for officers to perform an investigatory stop, but they must be sufficiently reliable.
While this may be provided by an officer corroborating extensive details provided in an anonymous tip by observation, a tip may become more reliable when the caller identifies him or herself to law enforcement. If a REDDI report is generated by an identifiable citizen, then the information provided may more easily provide justification for a traffic stop.
Keep in mind, however, that in order to perform a traffic stop for traffic, DUI, or other criminal offenses, an officer needs only reasonable suspicion that one of these offenses has been committed. Reasonable suspicion must be supported by specific and articulable facts, and it must be more than just a hunch. However, recent case law suggests that even an anonymous phone tip about dangerous or drunken driving can provide reasonable suspicion for a traffic stop -- as long as the tip is reliable.
REDDI reports, even when made anonymously, can help an officer meet this low burden of proof by providing specific details that may identify a suspect's car as a perpetrator of a crime. As the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports, in Idaho, REDDI reports are verified by "additional observation" before a stop occurs.
Details which officers may use to corroborate a tip include:
After evaluating a REDDI tip with observations, an officer who believes there is reasonable suspicion that an offense has been committed may legally stop the vehicle and investigate.
From there, all manner of arrests are possible (e.g., DUI or drug possession), as long as there is probable cause.
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