State v. Watkins, 220 N.C. App. 384 (May. 1, 2012)

Officers had reasonable suspicion to stop the defendant’s vehicle. Officers had received an anonymous tip that a vehicle containing “a large amount of pills and drugs” would be traveling from Georgia through Macon County and possibly Graham County; the vehicle was described as a small or mid-sized passenger car, maroon or purple in color, with Georgia license plates. Officers set up surveillance along the most likely route. When a small purple car passed the officers, they pulled out behind it. The car then made an abrupt lane change without signaling and slowed down by approximately 5-10 mph. The officers ran the vehicle’s license plate and discovered the vehicle was registered a person known to have outstanding arrest warrants. Although the officers where pretty sure that the driver was not the wanted person, they were unable to identify the passenger. They also saw the driver repeatedly looking in his rearview mirror and glancing over his shoulder. They then pulled the vehicle over. The court concluded that the defendant’s lane change in combination with the anonymous tip and defendant’s other activities were sufficient to give an experienced law enforcement officer reasonable suspicion that some illegal activity was taking place. Those other activities included the defendant’s slow speed in the passing lane, frequent glances in his rearview mirrors, repeated glances over his shoulder, and that he was driving a car registered to another person. Moreover, it noted, not only was the defendant not the owner of the vehicle, but the owner was known to have outstanding arrest warrants; it was reasonable to conclude that the unidentified passenger may have been the vehicle’s owner.