How long does an officer have to pull you over after he claims he witnessed a moving traffic violation?

I was pulled over for careless and imprudent driving 18 miles away from where I pulled off to the side of the road to allow a car to go by that was flashing its lights. I was 15 miles away before the cop ever came up behind me and he followed me for 3 more miles before he lit me up. I was given a couple of field sobriety test at which I passed let me also say something
I hate to say but with the world the way it looks….. I am a black male and was going through a southern state in a bright red Cadillac with not tint. Was this stop legal?

Asked on October 9, 2015 under Criminal Law, Missouri


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

There is no hard and fast rule for how long an officer has to pull you over. It depends on circumstances was it reasonable for him to follow you, to see how you continued to drive? Was he running some check on your plates as he followed, to see if there are any open warrants, etc. before acting. Etc.
That doesn't mean that you weren't the victim of a racist stop--just that the distance does not automatically make it so. If you believe that you were, or at least reasonably could have been thought, to have been driving recklessly, this is probably legitimate. If you truly believe you did nothing that could be classified as reckless, then this may be profiling or racism, and you may wish to speak with an attorney and/or contact the ACLU or similar organization.

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