What is the law about profiling?

I was pulled over 25 blocks after the first supposed traffic violation had occurred. I heard that they could only follow you for 2 blocks if no traffic offense had been committed. I get that they have to share the roads with us but 25 blocks is a little much when I supposedly had committed multiple violations and one was DUI related. A person at the service station I was at told the cop I smelled of alcohol and within a block I supposedly had committed 3 different violations so shouldn’t he have pulled me over way before the 25 blocks? Is it legal for him to wait that long to pull me over?

Asked on September 12, 2010 under Criminal Law, Utah


M.S., Member, Connecticut Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

First, you have not stated anything in your facts to suggest that this was an instance of profiling.  Profiling refers to situations where someone is pulled over for something like their race, i.e., because they were black or hispanic, for example.  The general rule is that the fourth amendment to the united states consitution requires the police to have probable cause that you committed a crime in order to pull you over.  Therefore, if their reason for pulling you over is "because you are black", then the stop is illegal and everything that follows the stop will be thrown out of court.  In this case, you have suggested that the cops had probable cause that you committed several motor vehicle violations, any one of which, if valid, would justify the stop.  The fact that they followed you for an excessive amount of time is not grounds on its own to render the stop illegal; however, that fact may be used by an attorney to prove that the cops are lying about the reason that they claim to have had probable cause to pull you over for.

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