The character is leaning his head across state lines and getting high of an unknown substance, which isn't federally scheduled, and is legal in one state, but illegal in another. In the illegal state, a DUI is a citation, while in the legal state, a DUI is a gross misdemeanor.

The character is on his motorcycle with the rest of his body sitting sidesaddle on a motorcycle that is parked and turned off in the illegal state, but is consuming and possessing the drug in the illegal state.

When he's done, he throws the cigarette in a nearby puddle in the legal state and gives the officer the middle finger in the legal state, turns on his engine, rides away into a nearby shed and lets the drug take him over.

The cops in the illegal state don't write tickets for DUIs unless they're generally in big vehicles, and he was on a motorcycle, which they don't ever charge people with DUIs for...

So did my character find a loophole and outsmarted the police in both states?

  • This character hasn't outsmarted anybody. If they would have committed only a crime in state X or only committed a crime in state Y if not crossing the line, they've now committed a crime in both at the same time.
    – user4657
    Dec 22, 2019 at 6:22
  • That should be "consuming and possessing the drug in the legal state, while the rest of his body is sitting in the illegal state" Dec 22, 2019 at 6:53
  • And the character isn't crossing the line. He's merely straddling it. The part of his body that possesses the state-by state legal substance is in the legal state, while the rest of his body is in the illegal state. He throws the cigarette butt of the drug in the legal state (Littering, a citation) and shifts the rest of his body to the illegal state, where DUIs are laxly enforced. So head+hand smoking=legal state, rest of body+motorcycle: Illegal state. Motorcycle !=in state with gross misdemeanors. Throws butt in legal state, moves rest of body in illegal state and rides away. Dec 22, 2019 at 6:55
  • 1
    I seem to have missed where this person can split themselves in two and reconnect the halves later. Presuming otherwise, they are not doing these things in each state separately, they are doing both things in both states.
    – user4657
    Dec 22, 2019 at 6:56

2 Answers 2


Who says you can't be in two states at the same time? If my head is in one state while my body is mostly in another state, both states could reasonably claim that I was in their state at the same time. And they could both be right.

So in the case described, the police officer could record your license plate number and call his colleagues on the other side with the facts, and if they catch you, you're in trouble. In court you can then try to explain why you were not in that state when clearly (with a police officer as witness) you were.


This is a slimmed down version of "The Four Corners Murder" which posits that a person who is standing on the marker of the Four Corners (a singluar point where the boarders of Arizona, Colorodo, New Mexico, and Utah meet and is the only place where four states meet in such a manner in the U.S.) and is shot.

Typically, the scenario posits which state can prosecute the murder (the state in which the murder shot the gun or the state where the victim fell) or if it's a legal murder as firing a gun is not a murder and the victim was not in the jurisdiction of the accused.

In actuality both in your scenario and the other all involved states will be able to prosecute the accused for all crimes committed while straddling the boarder. Thus, in the four corners, the murder is prosecutable by all four states one time each (Double Jeopardy applies to a jurisdiction. If the same crime is cross jurisdiction, each jurisidiction can prosecute and find guilt no matter how many other jurisdiction already heard the case.).


The murderer can be prosecuted an additional three times: The four corners are also part of the boundry for the Sovereign Dependent Native American Nations of the Navajo Nation and the Southern Ute Indian Reservation, both of which have their own legal systems independent of the States they reside in that can prosecute just the same as the states. Finally, since the crime also "crosses" state lines, the Federal Government has jurisdiction to prosecute.

In the likely scenario, the state, or tribal Law Enforcement that makes the arrest will likely try the case first, while the remaining five legal entities will file for extradition to stand trial in their own states/tribes if they are not satisfied with the first's justice (or they are satisfied, but they want to punish the accused as well). The federal government will go last and as a policy rule it will decide to drop charges pending the state's outcome when the charges are similar regardless of verdict. They can prosecute for non-state level crimes.

As a general rule, if you are straddling the border, the state that makes the arrest will be asked to extradite to stand trial for charges as well. So long as a part of you is legally in one state, it does not matter that the part breaking the law was in the other state, they can prosecute you for committing the action in their state as if all of you was over the line on their side.

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