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Pulling Over / Traffic Stop

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  • Pulling Over / Traffic Stop

    Good day to you Officers, and happy New Year. Hope all of you enjoyed the holidays and no one was on New Year shift!

    Just a small question here: From what I learned, in the US cars usually are pulled over by service vehicles with activated emergency lights. Once the car stops on the shoulder, it's a traffic stop and the occupants are detained, am I correct?

    So, if that's true. can a LEO pull over a car by, for example, raising his/her hand and pointing at the driver? Would this situation qualify for a traffic stop?

    If that's different from state to state, replies from different jurisdictions, as well as from Australian officers, would be of great value. Thanks in advance and have a great winter!

  • #2
    Yes. A hand direction is a legal command from a uniformed officer.
    Now go home and get your shine box!

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    • #3
      In North Carolina this is a valid form of direction, however, it will bring forth questions from both the prosecution and defense as to why it was done. Driver's license checking stations are a good example of briefly detaining a motorist by stopping someone in the roadway and directing them to the side or by stepping out of their vehicle. There should be a policy of some sort in place before such actions take place that is corroborated by General Statute unless there is some exignet reason for stopping someone in this fashion.

      If an officer is driving their patrol vehicle and wants another motorist to pull over, they can try to get them to comply by gaining their attention and pointing for them to pull over, but if the motorist fails to do so, there would be little chance to convict for refusing or delaying this order.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by DeaconSteve View Post
        If an officer is driving their patrol vehicle and wants another motorist to pull over, they can try to get them to comply by gaining their attention and pointing for them to pull over, but if the motorist fails to do so, there would be little chance to convict for refusing or delaying this order.
        Wow, thanks for the detailed explanation! It's really interesting that this manner of pull over has to be specified in the department's policy, however it definitely makes sense.

        I was thinking DUI or license checkpoints, or maybe near speed radars to stop all speeding vehicles, something like that.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Hagen View Post


          I was thinking DUI or license checkpoints, or maybe near speed radars to stop all speeding vehicles, something like that.
          There is no policy on pulling someone over from our patrol vehicles. It's just pulling up next to them on the roadway and looking at them and pointing to the road side. This is more of a multi-lane rural highway thing that most city officers won't do much. It's also something the old-timers did about 30 plus years ago.

          Where I work, we'd better be in a patrol vehicle to apprehend speeders. Most of the LIDAR operations take place on interstates where we stop everything travelling over 80MPH.

          DWI checkpoints fall under similar procedures as driver's license checkpoints. Each require a plan that is specified by procedures in the SOP. DWI checkpoints require signage ahead of the checkpoint that serve as a "warning" of what's ahead whereas driver's license checkpoints do not have that requirement. Consistency is the main factor in each of these checkpoints such as either checking each and every vehicle that comes through, or if not every vehicle, have a some standard such as every other vehicle, which we never do. If the traffic backs up too far for whatever reason, the checkpoint can be briefly halted to allow the traffic to get through and resume when it is safe and practical to do so, but the times have to be recorded.

          When I am conducting a driver's license checkpoint, I simply say the the approaching motorist, "Driver's license please" and respond to however the dialogue takes me. During DWI checkpoints, I say "Driver's license please" and as they are retrieving it I say "We are conducting a DWI checkpoint, have you consumed any alcohol tonight"? After their response, I ask "Is there any open containers of alcohol in the vehicle"? After that, I go with however the conversation takes me. This way I can testify pretty much to any Court case I have regarding to how my interaction started.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by DeaconSteve View Post
            If an officer is driving their patrol vehicle and wants another motorist to pull over, they can try to get them to comply by gaining their attention and pointing for them to pull over, but if the motorist fails to do so, there would be little chance to convict for refusing or delaying this order.
            movie.jpg

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            • #7
              Actually watched a FHP motor officer knock on a driver's window and point to the side of the interstate. Stops can be made in any number of ways.
              Last edited by Dinosaur32; 01-05-2018, 05:27 PM.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Dinosaur32 View Post
                Stops can be made in any number of ways.
                Which is quite reasonable. I asked it here because some of the Americans I know (civilians) said "no, cops can pull you over only with their lights", and that seemed strange to me. I did some research but found no legal definition of "pull over" or any court decisions.

                So yeah, now I'm certain that as long it's clear to the driver he's getting pulled over... He's getting pulled over!

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                • #9
                  We had a detective in a UC vehicle attempt to pull over a car. He got next to the driver and motioned for him to pull over, but he kept going. He showed him his badge and the driver flipped him the bird. He got the guy to roll down his window and he identified himself as a cop and verbally told him to pull over. Driver told him to f*ck off. It wasn't until a marked unit showed up that he finally stopped. The detective charged him with evading. Prosecutor threw it out.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by not.in.MY.town View Post
                    Prosecutor threw it out.
                    Did the prosecutor justify it somehow? Or maybe the guy was already on the way to life in prison so the evading charge would make no difference?

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Hagen View Post

                      Did the prosecutor justify it somehow? Or maybe the guy was already on the way to life in prison so the evading charge would make no difference?
                      His explanation boiled down to "No lights, no charge". Motorists know to pull over for lights and sirens. Everything else is too ambiguous.

                      To me it didn't sound like there was much ambiguity as to what the detective intended, but that wouldn't stop a defense attorney from arguing the issue...and this particular prosecutor preferred slam dunk cases.

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                      • SgtScott31
                        SgtScott31 commented
                        Editing a comment
                        I've seen plenty of defense attorneys try to get evading charges tossed when officers were on foot and signaled a vehicle a driver to stop. It rarely ever worked. The DUI & traffic guys in my neck of the woods are known for pulling over vehicles on foot. They're in uniform, traffic vest, and with wands. There's tons of scenarios where I've stopped vehicle outside of a vehicle with no problems, but I was either wearing full uniform or tac vest.

                    • #12
                      Originally posted by not.in.MY.town View Post



                      To me it didn't sound like there was much ambiguity as to what the detective intended, but that wouldn't stop a defense attorney from arguing the issue...and this particular prosecutor preferred slam dunk cases.
                      It appears that prosecutors share similar traits around the world.

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                      • #13
                        It is very common in my area for officers to clock speeders while out of their vehicle (or off their motorcycle unit), walk to the side of the road and motion the offender to pull onto the shoulder or into a parking lot. Failure to follow the officer's directions is a separate charge. Of course, this would not be possible on a freeway due to the high speeds there but in a neighborhood it is popular.
                        If your biggest work-related fear is getting a paper cut, don't try and tell a cop how to do his job.

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                        • #14
                          Originally posted by not.in.MY.town View Post

                          His explanation boiled down to "No lights, no charge". Motorists know to pull over for lights and sirens. Everything else is too ambiguous.

                          To me it didn't sound like there was much ambiguity as to what the detective intended, but that wouldn't stop a defense attorney from arguing the issue...and this particular prosecutor preferred slam dunk cases.
                          It would have had the same result in my state... the Fleeing statute itself specifies a "marked" police vehicle. An unmarked or a UC car wouldn't cut it, even if a uniformed officer was driving. We've even had a couple of ADAs hmm and haw over issuing a fleeing charge when the officer used a fully marked but clean-top patrol car.

                          You can trust just about every officer you work with to risk their life to save yours, but don't ever leave your lunch in the breakroom refrigerator.

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                          • #15
                            Originally posted by Curt5811 View Post

                            It would have had the same result in my state... the Fleeing statute itself specifies a "marked" police vehicle. An unmarked or a UC car wouldn't cut it, even if a uniformed officer was driving. We've even had a couple of ADAs hmm and haw over issuing a fleeing charge when the officer used a fully marked but clean-top patrol car.

                            Guess you're not in Connecticut with their marked/unmarked cruisers...

                            Don't you have a separate offense such as "failure to stop" or "failure to obey directions of a law enforcement officer", like delzo70 mentioned above?

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