Could You? Should You? Florida v. J.L.: Danger Dicta, Drunken Bombs, and the Universe of Anonymity

Recently, the United States Supreme Court passed on a chance to consider the legitimacy of investigatory stops based on uncorroborated anonymous tips of drunk driving, preferring this issue continue to ferment in the lower courts. When facing this issue, some lower courts seize the opportunity to carve out a drunk-driving exception to the Fourth Amendment based on “danger dicta” found in Florida v. J.L. Other courts hold fast to the corroboration requirement for anonymous informants in Alabama v. White. This Comment considers whether both approaches fail to take full advantage of existing Fourth Amendment jurisprudence so that police can effectively manage the dangers posed by drunk drivers without further eroding Fourth Amendment protections. Rather than polarize informants as either known or anonymous, there is a third classification of informants that are just distinct enough to provide reasonable suspicion for investigatory stops. As Justice Kennedy's concurring opinion in J.L. argued, these quasi-known/quasi-anonymous informants “might be anonymous in some sense yet have certain other features, either supporting reliability or narrowing the likely class of informants, so that the tip does provide the lawful basis for some police action.”