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  • Traffic Arrests

    Here is a question aimed at those who truly understand Maryland law. I hope this doesn't turn into an argument, I'd really just like to see everyone's thoughts and some productive discussion.

    The question in itself is simple: When can a Maryland police officer make an arrest for a traffic offense?

    My understanding, belief, and the side I favor is that the Transportation article of the Annotated Code of Maryland specifically states certain times when a police officer can make an arrest for a traffic violation.

    Some have to be commited in the officers presence, others simply require the officer to have probable cause but going off of memory the Annotated Code states that an officer can make an arrest for a traffic offense in the following cases generally speaking:

    *DWI/DUI
    *DW Suspended/Revoked
    *Not having satisfactory identification after committing a traffic violation
    *Officer having PC to believe citation will be disregarded
    *Fail to stop at weigh stations/hazmat violations
    *Fleeing and Eluding
    *Hit and Run

    There may be a few more but that's basically it as far as I can recall off-hand.

    This seems self-explanatory however, many officers I know believe that for any Must Appear offense, the person can be arrested.

    The third idea I've heard is a little extreme, however, the logic does make sense. The Annotated Code states that traffic offenses are misdemeanors unless declared a Felony by statute. Assuming that a traffic violation is committed in the presence of an officer, is that not synonymous with a misdemeanor being commited in the presence of an officer? By that logic a police officer could arrest a person for any traffic violation.

    *Note: As for the third and most extreme theory, I don't know of anyone who has put that theory into practice

    Anyway, though this seems like a simple question, it does raise some interesting theories. By far the most common difference in policemen that I know is whether an arrest can be made for the specified offenses or for any must appear offense.

    If anyone has any ideas or opinions, I'd love to hear them and moreso I'd love to see any relevant statutes or case law.

    Again, I don't want this to turn into an argument, just a productive discussion that we can learn from.

  • #2
    Originally posted by MdCop108 View Post
    Here is a question aimed at those who truly understand Maryland law. I hope this doesn't turn into an argument, I'd really just like to see everyone's thoughts and some productive discussion.

    The question in itself is simple: When can a Maryland police officer make an arrest for a traffic offense?

    My understanding, belief, and the side I favor is that the Transportation article of the Annotated Code of Maryland specifically states certain times when a police officer can make an arrest for a traffic violation.

    Some have to be commited in the officers presence, others simply require the officer to have probable cause but going off of memory the Annotated Code states that an officer can make an arrest for a traffic offense in the following cases generally speaking:

    *DWI/DUI
    *DW Suspended/Revoked
    *Not having satisfactory identification after committing a traffic violation
    *Officer having PC to believe citation will be disregarded
    *Fail to stop at weigh stations/hazmat violations
    *Fleeing and Eluding
    *Hit and Run

    There may be a few more but that's basically it as far as I can recall off-hand.

    This seems self-explanatory however, many officers I know believe that for any Must Appear offense, the person can be arrested.

    Anyway, though this seems like a simple question, it does raise some interesting theories. By far the most common difference in policemen that I know is whether an arrest can be made for the specified offenses or for any must appear offense.

    If anyone has any ideas or opinions, I'd love to hear them and moreso I'd love to see any relevant statutes or case law.

    Again, I don't want this to turn into an argument, just a productive discussion that we can learn from.
    You missed some so here they all are:
    (a) A police officer may arrest without a warrant a person for a violation of
    the Maryland Vehicle Law, including any rule or regulation adopted under it, or
    for a violation of any traffic law or ordinance of any local authority of this
    State, if:
    (1) The person has committed or is committing the violation within the view or
    presence of the officer, and the violation is any of the following:
    (i) A violation of Section 22-111 or 24-111.1 of this Article, relating to the
    failure or refusal to submit a vehicle to a weighing or to remove excess weight
    from it:
    (ii)The officer has reasonable grounds to believe that the person will
    disregard a traffic citation;
    (2) The person has committed or is committing the violation within the view or
    presence of the officer, and either:
    (i) The person does not furnish satisfactory evidence of identity; or
    (ii) The officer has reasonable grounds to believe that the person will
    disregard a traffic citation
    ;
    (3) The officer has probable cause to believe that the person has committed the violation, and the violation is any of the following offenses:
    (i) Driving or attempting to drive while intoxicated or while under the
    influence of alcohol:
    (ii) Driving or attempting to drive while under the influence of any drug, any
    combination of drugs and alcohol or while under the influence of any controlled
    dangerous substance;
    (iii) Failure to stop, give information, or render reasonable assistance, as
    required by Sections 20-102 and 20-104 of this Article, in the event of an
    accident resulting in bodily injury to or death of any person;
    (iv) Driving or attempting to drive a motor vehicle while the driver’s license
    or privilege to drive is suspended or revoked;
    (v) Failure to stop or give information, as required by Sections 20-103 through
    20-105 of this Article, in the event of an accident resulting in damage to a
    vehicle or other property;
    (vi) Any offense that caused or contributed to an accident resulting in bodily
    injury to or death of any person; or
    (vii) Fleeing or attempting to elude a Police Officer;
    (4) The person is a nonresident and the officer has probable cause to believe
    that:
    (i) The person has committed the violation; and
    (ii) The violation contributed to an accident; or
    (5) The officer has probable cause to believe that the person has committed the violation, and, subject to the procedures set forth in section 26 203 of this subtitle, the person is issued a traffic citation and refuses to acknowledge its receipt by signature.
    (b) An arrest under this section shall be made in the same manner as, and
    without more force than, in misdemeanor cases.
    (c) A person arrested under this section shall be taken with out unnecessary
    delay before a District Court Commissioner, as specified in section 26-401 of
    this title, unless the arresting officer in his discretion releases the
    individual upon the individual’s written promise to appear for trial.
    Transportation Article § 26-202.


    Driving w/o a license is missing from the above but you can arrest on it. If you can articulate what I bolded then anything is arrestable. But otherwise you CANNOT arrest on every MA. If you arrest based on what I bolded and take the person to the commissioner, if the citation is not an MA then they cannot be held on bail anyway. You cant be held on bond for a non jailable offense.



    Originally posted by MdCop108 View Post
    The third idea I've heard is a little extreme, however, the logic does make sense. The Annotated Code states that traffic offenses are misdemeanors unless declared a Felony by statute. Assuming that a traffic violation is committed in the presence of an officer, is that not synonymous with a misdemeanor being commited in the presence of an officer? By that logic a police officer could arrest a person for any traffic violation.

    *Note: As for the third and most extreme theory, I don't know of anyone who has put that theory into practice
    No that is not the case because there is a specific section that refers to traffic arrests so that logic is flawed.
    Last edited by Stare; 04-26-2007, 10:57 PM.

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    • #3
      Also my post above assumes the driver is an adult. If they are a juvenile then there are extra/different rules.

      Comment


      • #4
        if im understanding the question right... depending on the deptartment you work for you can be "arrested" or "leagally detained" for identification reasons.
        different depts, commanders, shifts, or even supervisors have their own opinion of what "satifactory evidence of ID" is. for us its Drivers License / ID Card, Passport or other state issued ID. we normally only enforce it if you are getting a MA citation or locked up (not just a speeding ticket). even so, normally we just print the person or get someone to bring their ID to the station.

        Comment


        • #5
          You bring up a good point, "satisfactory evidence of ID" is rather vague. I suppose the way to go with that is simple to use the "reasonableness" standard. If the information you have/can verify reasonably leads the officer to believe that the person is who they say they are then that should work.

          Basically, my question stemmed from some casual discussion with other officers. My department only makes traffic arrests for the specific times stated in the Md vehicle law as I noted above. The question which we discussed, more out of pure interest than anything, is that reasonable arguments can be made for other instances that could allow a traffic arrest. Some officers that I know believe that you can arrest for any offense listed as a Must Appear. The third option that was discussed but certainly not put into practice is that Md Traffic Law states that traffic offenses are misdemeanors if not declared a Felony. So, if a person commits a traffic violation in front of you, you should be able to arrest because they committed a misdemeanor in your presence.

          That may be a little unclear. Basically, my question is that there seem to be three instances where the law could be interpreted to allow an arrest for a traffic offense. These are as follows:

          A) Specified offenses listed in the Maryland Vehicle Law (refer to my initial post for a listing)
          B) Any Must Appear Offense (This includes some offenses not listed under A)
          C) Any traffic offense/misdemeanor occuring in your presence or view

          As I said, this is more for discussion than anything but, the question is, considering options A, B, and C, I don't think there's a question of A being ok for arrests but does anyone feel that B or C would be a lawful arrest in the state of Maryland and why.

          Comment


          • #6
            If an officer is arresting people for Must Appears not listed under the traffic arrests and the misdemeanor principle you stated then they are opening themselves up for a law suit. It is clear when you can arrest on traffic. It spells it out. I understand that it states that traffic offenses are misdemeanors and in your presence you believe you can arrest on them. That may have been the case if they didnt have a specific statute that regulates traffic arrests. Since there is a specific section referring to traffic arrests then that blatantly isnt an option.

            It is just like the ability to arrest on certain enumerated misdemeanors. You technically cant arrest on misdemeanors that didnt occur in your presence. But since there is a section that specifically applies allowing you to arrest on certain ones.

            If there is a specific section you need to comply with that specific one. Not try to back door it. Just my opinion. Otherwise I feel you are opening the door for a suit.

            Comment


            • #7
              I 200% agree with Stare. ive heard of ofc's locking people up for crazy reasons just to pad their stats. its the same as double & triple banging people on traffic citations cause you can. a headlight out does not deserve a ticket, repair order, and warning.

              Comment


              • #8
                I understand that it states that traffic offenses are misdemeanors and in your presence you believe you can arrest on them.
                If there is a specific section you need to comply with that specific one. Not try to back door it. Just my opinion. Otherwise I feel you are opening the door for a suit.
                I appreciate your input and, as stated clearly in my first post, I agree with you!

                I don't, however, appreciate that you seem to be indicating that I personally believe this and that I personally am doing these things. Again, refer to my previous posts. I am not doing these things. I opened this thread to prompt some educational discussion. I think too many officers become complacent with the law, think they know everything, and they stop trying to understand. There's a big difference between knowing something and understanding it. There can be great benefits to ideas and discussions and that's all I'm trying to bring about here.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Where I work, all traffic offenses (moving or equiptment) are just PC for the stop. As long as you don't give me ****, are respectful (yes sir/officer) and just admit you were wrong; you will NEVER get a money ticket from me.

                  Originally posted by Glockcop04 View Post
                  I 200% agree with Stare. ive heard of ofc's locking people up for crazy reasons just to pad their stats. its the same as double & triple banging people on traffic citations cause you can. a headlight out does not deserve a ticket, repair order, and warning.

                  Comment

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