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Traffic Violations

Imagine you are driving down the highway, and in a moment of weakness and distraction, you swerve out of your lane and endanger another vehicle. You don't collide and both vehicles safely make it out of the incident -- but you spooked yourself and the other vehicle. You go driving on your way, focusing on keeping your vehicle safely in your lane.

A few minutes later, a police officer pulls up behind you, lights flashing. You're being pulled over, but you don't know why. You haven't done anything wrong and you are travelling right at the speed limit. What gives the police the ability to pull you over? Well, it turns out the person in the vehicle that you nearly struck a few minutes ago called the police.

But now here's another question: Can the police legally pull you over without witnessing your alleged reckless driving? It's not quite the "does a falling tree make a sound if no one is around to hear it" scenario, but it's similar. And it will go before the Supreme Court of the United States in the coming months.

The case was prompted by a criminal appeal made by two brothers who were driving on a highway. They lost control of their vehicle and forced another vehicle off the road. They went driving on, but were pulled over moments later after the person who they affected called the police. The police then pulled the two brothers over and found marijuana in their vehicle, resulting in a bevy of criminal charges. Now the brothers have appealed their case all the way up to the Supreme Court, saying that the traffic stop was illegal because it violated their rights.

Source: Associated Press, "Court: Is anonymous tip enough for traffic stop?," Mark Sherman, Oct. 1, 2013

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