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I was pulled over for allegedly speeding less than 15 mph over the posted speed limit. As I was traveling on a minor highway a car coming from the opposite direction turned off the highway and just as I passed the turn a highway patrolman was revealed directly behind the person turning off the highway. He immediately made a u-turn across a solid double yellow line and began following me with his lights on. Upon pulling me over the police officer immediately had an aggressive body language, manner of speech and eye contact. I had a 7 month old infant in the car and my wife, and I became nervous that he would further lose control of his emotions. He asked if I knew what speed I was going at the time that I was pulled over I said I couldn't recall what my exact speed was at the time he pulled me over. He then repeatedly asked said "well that means you were either purposely driving over the speed limit or you were carelessly driving". Not wanting to incriminate myself I kept repeating that I was not doing either of those things. He then said "there are three options, I can take you to jail, write you a citation or give you a warning". At that point I knew this was getting serious as I had never been threatened with jail time for a traffic offense before. I kept repeating that I did not intentionally drive over the speed limit and couldn't recall the exact speed I was going at the time he pulled me over.

Honestly, I've replayed the situation countless times since it happened. I felt powerless to protect my wife and child from someone. I have two goals after this situation:

  1. Get out of the ticket.
  2. Prevent this individual from harming other people (which I believe the only reason he didn't escalate the situation to violence is because of my calm and respectful demeanor during the entire situation)

I've been advised my best course of action is to plead guilty and ask for a reduction from the judge. I honestly fear for the safety of others that this officer pulls over. I'm trying to get over my personal anger towards this officer but I also feel some level of duty to ensure this doesn't happen to someone else.

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  • Do you have the encounter on video by chance? Was he wearing a body camera? Would his dash camera have captured audio of your responses? I would request this and file a formal complaint about his conduct before any hearing on your citation. Apr 10, 2023 at 23:48
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    P.S. You haven't established any basis for asserting that he lied. Do you believe the 3 options presented are invalid? Apr 10, 2023 at 23:52
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    "He immediately made a u-turn across a solid double yellow line": this is legal in the US, so it is a bit odd to mention it. Did you learn to drive somewhere else?
    – phoog
    Apr 11, 2023 at 0:08
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    In the state of missouri it is illegal to make a u-turn across a double yellow line. I believe it is possible he could have charged me with a class b misdemeanor which can be subject to jail time, nullifying my previous assumption that he suggested something not true. Statute 304.341 talks about when it is permissible to make a u-turn, and the location where the officer did make a u-turn was not visible 300 feet away.
    – haredev
    Apr 11, 2023 at 0:13
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    There is also section 304.022 to consider, which exempts drivers of emergency vehicles from many rules of the road under certain circumstances.
    – phoog
    Apr 11, 2023 at 12:52

3 Answers 3

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Despite the lengthy background, the only question seems to be:

Can a police officer lie about a consequence of a traffic violation they charge you with?

As a matter of constitutional law in the United States, that answer is generally "yes." States can impose more limitations if they like. Only a small minority of states actually do so.

Incidentally, an attorney, such as a deputy district attorney, is not allowed to lie about the consequences of a traffic violation, or anything else (even in extreme circumstances like a hostage situation). This violates the rules of professional conduct applicable to all attorneys.

This sounds like a classic "driving while black" situation and is probably involves unconstitutional discrimination by a government official, although proving that in an individual case is virtually impossible.

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  • Does it say anywhere that haredev is Black?
    – Damila
    Apr 11, 2023 at 1:52
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    @Damila I believe ohwilleke is using the phrase in the general sense (of unfamiliar or illegal prejudice of any kind) rather than the specific.
    – Dale M
    Apr 11, 2023 at 2:46
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    I believe this situation was caused by vehicle/class more than my race. At the time I was driving a "beater" vehicle I had just bought (I can afford luxury vehicles just choose not to go into debt). His impression was I was of a low economic class and more likely to bring additional charges then just the speeding is my guess. Unfortunately for him I had up-to-date insurance, everyone was buckled and the car seat was in rear facing position appropriate to the age of the child. This whole experience has soured my previously lukewarm opinion of police officers exclusive of the law they enforce.
    – haredev
    Apr 11, 2023 at 3:27
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Police can lie to you

and

You can be arrested for many traffic offenses

It is well established that police have no duty to tell you the truth either intentionally or unintentionally.

It is also well established that in most jurisdictions there are traffic offenses that you can be arrested for. The happens infrequently, but the option is there for the officer. Texas, for example, states that you may not be arrested only for speeding or for open container violations. Virginia is famous for arresting people for speeding more than 20 over or 85 regardless, which is defined in Virginia as a type of reckless driving. This may be different in your jurisdiction.

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It's not clear from the account what the alleged lie was. It is true that a LEO can ticket you for speeding, or can give you a warning, and if you unlawfully resist his requests (providing your driver's license, for example), you can be arrested. No law prohibits the police from using scary language like "take you to jail" instead of "take you into custody", and even if there is no present basis for an arrest, it is always possible even if unlikely that you will do something to trigger an arrest. It is, also, perfectly legal for a LEO to entice you to confessing to have broken the law, and you can put an end to that line of questioning by asserting your right to silence. (Failing to confess is not the same as explicitly refusing to answer, the latter is what forces the officer to arrest, ticket, or release you).

You should definitely hire a lawyer, in case you ended up getting arrested. You could also hire a lawyer if you were just ticketed and feel that the officer's evidence of speeding is faulty in some way, for example was the radar gun calibrated recently enough, or how exactly did he know how fast you were going?

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    I think the lie is in claiming that the LEO can "take you to jail" when that course of action is in all likelihood not authorized for a mere minor speeding violation. The LEO is bluffing about a hypothetical charge that authorizes him to take the person to jail that doesn't exist. The LEO is using this deception because he wants to scare the driver into confessing to a crime that the LEO has no reasonable suspicion or probable cause to believe that the driver committed. Also, the question doesn't say so, but the odds are vary high that a driver in that situation is not white.
    – ohwilleke
    Apr 11, 2023 at 0:47

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