We have discussed previously how one shoud behave during a traffic stop if one wants to minimize the odds of being ticketed. As an attorney I have to inform you that regardless of anything anyone tells you - even an attorney - it can all go out the window with the wrong cop.
I introduce you to DaJuawn Wallace. A college student at Saginaw Valley State University. He was out driving when a police officer decided to pull him over for suspicion of having driven on a sidewalk. DaJuawn saw the lights go on and decided to look for a well-lit place to pull over. As one of my law professors would like to note, here is a KEY FACT: Wallace is from Detroit.
A mile and a half later, he pulled over and was promptly arrested and later charged with the felony of fleeing and eluding.
So, for all of the people who told me that you always have carte blanche to drive around and look for a nice place to pull over, you might want to rethink that.
I am not saying that Wallace is 100% in the right here, nor am I saying the police are in the wrong. We do not have all the facts, nor do we know how this will shake out. They have offered Wallace a deal - which, so far, he has turned down.
The real takeaway here is that there is a lot of slop in the law. Bright lines? Rarely. Use your best judgment and try to be reasonable. And hope the officer is reasonable as well.
I’ll keep you informed as to what happens with this one.
EDIT: For the curious, the Michigan statute on Fleeing and Eluding is here. I’d argue that If everything the police officers said is true, this still isn’t a case of Fleeing and Eluding. But hey, read the statute yourself.
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Steve Lehto has been practicing law for 23 years, almost exclusively in consumer protection and Michigan lemon law. He wrote The Lemon Law Bible and Chrysler’s Turbine Car: The Rise and Fall of Detroit’s Coolest Creation.
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