Let's say you are traveling on city streets.

A police cruiser notices you are speeding and starts following you from an inconspicuous distance. During the time he follows you, he sees more violations.

Is it legal for a police cruiser to keep following you, and tallying additional citations and fines?

I am wondering specifically whether they could follow you to see if your excess in speed lasts for a distance / time, and further penalize you, but am also interested to learn whether they would tally several distinct citations by following you for a long time.

I am asking specifically of United States law. I am unsure if it would be different for state police and local police.

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    What jurisdiction(s) would you like an answer for? Your terminology suggests North America but I may be wrong.
    – user35069
    Commented Jan 8, 2021 at 12:41
  • 1
    @RickApe Added edit to OP Commented Jan 8, 2021 at 12:53

1 Answer 1


In general, yes, police could do this. I am not aware of any US state or locality which requires an officer to execute a stop as soon as a traffic violation is observed. Whether the police would act in such a way is another question, but in some areas maximizing citation revenue is a high priority, so police in such areas might act in such a way.

If police think a person's actions are "suspicious" and think that the person might be involved in some crime more serious than a traffic violation, it would be common procedure to follow without making a stop or arrest to get a better idea of what the person was doing.

Many police I have encountered seem seriously concerned to stop someone driving in what they consider an unsafe way as quickly as possible, and so stop violators promptly, but I don't say that motivates all police all the time.

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    The pattern of conduct described in the question is often used to harass minorities in predominantly white neighborhoods (hence "driving while black") and people who have rightly or wrongly gotten on the wrong side of police and are viewed as unwelcome by the local police in their jurisdiction for any variety of reasons. I've had it done to me once and I'm a white male, U.S. born, attorney.
    – ohwilleke
    Commented Jan 9, 2021 at 6:24
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    @ohwilleke or Driving while a yankee in the south, or driving while long-haired hippy freak or driving punk in flash sports car.
    – paulj
    Commented Feb 2, 2021 at 15:16
  • @paulj In my case, driving westbound with New York plates in Colorado on an East to West interstate highway with a car sagging on its axels from being loading down with all of my worldly possessions (i.e. the cop had a hunch that I was a drug mule which was incorrect).
    – ohwilleke
    Commented Feb 2, 2021 at 23:50
  • There was a case in Germany where police tried to do that, and a judge threw out all but the first violation they observed, because they should have stopped the car immediately. May be different if the car followed cannot be stopped easily, for example if they noticed the police and try to escape.
    – gnasher729
    Commented Jul 2, 2023 at 18:29

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