Legal Question in Traffic Law in Virginia

How far can a police officer follow you before stopping you

How far can a police officer follow a ''suspect'' before he has to pull them over? If he feels that you are a danger to yourself or others, doesn't he have an obligation to pull you over immediately, rather than follow you for at least 8 miles, through several intersections and turns, and then to the front of your house where he arrests you when you get out of the car?

Asked on 4/13/04, 4:17 pm

1 Answer from Attorneys

Michael E. Hendrickson Attorney & Counsellor at Law
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Re: How far can a police officer follow you before stopping you

The criterion for a traffic stop which police officers are suppose to adhere to is whether there is probable cause (or a reasonable suspicion) for the officer to believe that a violation of the law has been committed by the targeted driver.

Whether this driver is perceived by the officer

initiating the stop to be a danger to himself or others has nothing to do with whether there is a justifiable legal basis for the stop.

And whether it takes an officer traveling one mile or eight to make this determination may make no difference at all, but, obviously, the longer that the officer tails the allegedly offending driver without stopping him, the more questionable and subject to challenge the stop may ultimately become.

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4/13/04, 7:59 pm

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