Can An Officer Stop A DUI Suspect Across State Lines? Oregon Court Says 'Yes'

Posted by Richard Lawson | Aug 11, 2017 | 0 Comments

What happens when an officer starts a traffic stop in Washington and finishes it in Oregon? That's the question the Oregon Supreme Court recently had to decide in the case of Oregon v. Keller.

In this case, Washington State Trooper Thompson spotted the defendant, Keller, committing traffic violations while in the state of Washington. Thompson initiated a traffic stop but the defendant did not pull over until the two were in Portland, Oregon. Thompson called the local police before approaching Keller's vehicle. Upon reaching Keller, Thompson noticed signs of intoxication but he waited for the Portland police to arrive, and it was they who placed the defendant under arrest for driving under the influence of intoxicants (DUII).

The defendant moved to suppress the evidence gathered at the traffic stop, “arguing that Thompson's stop was not authorized by Oregon law and violated defendant's rights under Article I, section 9, of the Oregon Constitution.” Although he lost at the trial court level and was convicted, the Oregon Court of Appeals subsequently reversed this decision. The State then appealed the case to the Oregon Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court ultimately concluded that Thompson's stop of the defendant in Oregon didn't violate Article I, section 9 because “Thompson had probable cause to stop defendant, and an Oregon officer making a stop in that circumstance would have had sufficient constitutional justification for the stop.” In addition, the court concluded that the stop was reasonable because Thompson had seen the defendant commit traffic violations, was attempting to stop him when they crossed state lines, had contacted Oregon police before approaching defendant's car, and had waited for them to arrest Keller for driving under the influence. Because of these things, the court decided that suppression of the evidence gathered at the traffic stop was not required, reversing the decision of the Court of Appeals.

Traffic Violations, Jurisdiction & Georgia Laws

Generally, any law enforcement officer, if outside his or her jurisdiction, but in pursuit or holding in custody, a suspect, must contact the appropriate authorities as soon as possible. The only codified law on the books in Georgia that would permit state line crossing of a law enforcement agency is its "fresh pursuit" law. This law, OCGA § 35-1-15, grants a police officer from one of Georgia's surrounding states "who enters this state in fresh pursuit of a person... the same authority to arrest and hold in custody such person within this state as that of a law enforcement officer of this state." In order for this to apply, however, the person in pursuit must be a suspect in a crime that carries a penalty of "death or imprisonment in excess of one year under the laws of the pursuing state." The latter does not apply in any way, shape, or form to a traffic violation that could possibly lead to probable cause, that could then possibly lead to a DUI charge and subsequent arrest.

If you have been charged with driving under the influence while in the state of Georgia, please do not hesitate to contact Georgia DUI attorney Richard Lawson today.  For more Georgia DUI Information or information on Georgia DUI Penalties, check back. 

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