Avoiding a DWI Arrest, Part 1: Don’t Pull Over

Posted by Ryan Russman | Oct 28, 2013 | 0 Comments

If a police officer directs you to pull over by either activating his emergency lights or motioning to you, you must follow his directions. However, if an officer is simply following you, you do not have to pull over. It is not against the law to share road space with a police car.

People get nervous when they see an officer and sometimes their first instinct is to pull over, even without be required to do so. Resist the urge to pull over. Just do not do it. You are completely within your rights as a citizen to continue driving (making sure you are obeying the rules of the road and thereby not giving the officer any reason to pull you over) to your destination unless the officer flashes his lights or motions for you to pull over.

You are protected to a great degree by the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution.  The United States Supreme Court in Terry v. Ohio 392 U.S. 1, 88 S.Ct. 1868, 20 L.Ed.2d 889 (1968) created a guideline called the “Terry stop”.  The United States Supreme Court said an officer cannot stop you unless they have legal justification to do so (i.e., you run a red light, weave in and out of your lane, or do something else that causes suspicion).

However, an officer has the right to pull over a vehicle whose registered owner has a suspended license, as long as the officer believes that (1) the registered owner is driving or (2) “observes nothing to indicate that the driver is not the owner…”
Even if all you do is pull into a parking lot in an attempt to avoid the officer, the officer can then follow you into the parking lot, where you have voluntarily come to a stop, and confront you in an effort to determine if you are violating the law without having to have any reasonable suspicion. If you continue driving, however, and the officer is forced to put on his siren or flashing lights in order to pull you over, then the officer has to prove that you have done something worthy of being detained.

If the officer cannot prove that he had reasonable suspicion that you were committing or about to commit a crime which caused him or her to pull you over, your entire case can potentially be thrown out of court.

Stay tuned for Part 2: Clues to Inebriation

This post contains excerpts from The DWI Book, the definitive guide to protecting your rights in the face of New Hampshire's tough DWI/DUI laws.

About the Author

Ryan Russman

Attorney Ryan Russman has dedicated his career to fighting for the rights of New Hampshire citizens. His practice, based in Exeter (Rockingham County) New Hampshire, is limited to cases involving DWI and DUI, other motor vehicle and criminal cases, and many cases involving personal injury. He is, however, best known as one of New Hampshire's leading legal authorities on DWI.


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