Hey Guys, I got into a situation last night and I would love some advice on how to proceed! So here goes:
- It was 1am.
- It was foggy.
- Every business was closed, unlit, and void of other people between where the officers lights came on and where I pulled into.
- I pulled into a Tom Thumb Gas station about 1.7 miles down the road.
- When his lights came on I turned on my hazards and slowed to about 40-45mph in the 55 zone.
Here is my account of the situation that I wrote so that I would not forget exactly what happened.
I do not remember the officers names.
Officer 1 - pulled me over, name started with C
Officer 2 - second to arrive
Officer 3 - third officer to arrive
I was sitting in the turn lane at sound side drive in front of the Community Life Center preparing to turn right. I was sitting in the turn lane waiting on my friend to pull out of the Community Life Center parking lot and catch up to me.
This is when officer 1 pulled up in the lane next to me prepared to go straight and turn left. My friend was pulling out of the Community Life Center parking lot so I turned right.
This is when officer 1 decided to turn right behind me instead of turning left across highway 98. He caught up to me and flicked on his lights a little bit past Napa Auto Parts. Which was less than half a mile before he turned on his lights.
When officer 1 turned on his lights I turned on my hazard lights to let him know that I understood he was there and slowed from 55 to about 45.
I continued to drive to Tom thumb gas station. According to my GPS this gas station is 1.7 miles from Napa Auto Parts.
As I was driving officer one pulled up beside me with his sirens on. I pointed straight ahead trying to indicate that I was not prepared to pull over where we were at. He dropped back behind me, then proceeded to do this once more. I was driving about 40-45 miles and hour not swerving and I was in the right hand lane of highway 98 headed east towards Tom Thumb.
It was 1am. Every business between where his lights came on and Tom Thumb was unlit and closed as well as void of any other persons. I proceded to drive on until Tom Thumb. A well lit 24 hour gas station that always has business. I parked under a street light in the parking lot next to the air pump.
I pulled out my registration and insurance and was prepared to hand it to officer one. He proceeded to ask me why I did not pull over for him when his lights came on. I told him I wanted to drive to a well lit open business since it was 1am and a foggy night. We went back and forth. As we were talking he asked me to step out of the vehicle and as I did so he placed my hands behind my back and handcuffed me.
We discussed back and forth why I drove down to where I had instead of immediately pulling over. He told me that what I did was illegal, that I should have pulled over immediately. At one point I was told to be quiet. I was placed facing the police car and searched. Everything was pulled from my pockets except my wallet. My knife and my keys were placed on the trunk of the car. Then I was placed in the back of his cruiser until another officer arrived. As I was sitting in the back of his cruiser he opened the back door of my Jeep and shined his light inside, presumably checking to make sure no one else was inside. He asked me at one point if there were any other occupants and I said no. My drivers door and my drivers side passenger door were open and my vehicle was running throughout this situation.
When officer 2 arrived officer 1 rolled down my back window so I could talk. He also read me my rights from a notecard, stopping at points to make sure I understood. Officer 2 asked me why I didn't pull over, I told him the same things I did officer one. That I wanted to pull open in a well lit parking lot, in an open business, and be off the road. I was asked for my drivers license. So they opened the door for me to get out. My wallet was removed from my back pocket and I showed him which pocket my ID was in. Then officer 2 helped me back in the back seat of the cruiser.
Officer 3 showed up while I was sitting in officer ones cruiser. After he showed up I was asked to step out. They proceeded to remove the hand cuffs and told me I could relax. All 4 of us sat there discussing why I drove on instead of pulling over immediately.
I was addamitaly expressing that I wanted to pull over in a well lit open area where there were cameras and other people around in a well lit area. It was 1am and a very foggy night. I was told by all three officers that this was very illegal. That as an officer they have concerns that the driver is preparing to run, or trying to hide something in the vehicle, or that I could have been preparing my gun to get out shooting, along with other examples that were given.
I was told that I should have pulled over immediately and asked to continue on to the area where I wanted to. I was told that if I had done what I did in Escambia County (a neighboring county that has a higher criminal rate) I would have been going to jail. That I was lucky I was in Santa Rosa County. Also, that if I was in Escambia County I would have been removed from my vehicle at gunpoint.
All I did was drive 1.7 miles with my hazard lights on and at a slowed speed from the speed limit.
After all of the discussion I finally asked officer 1 why I was pulled over in the first place. He said that it was due to the tint plate that was over my license plate and my blue tag light. He handed me a tool and I proceeded to remove the blue light and the tag tint plate. While I was doing this officer 3 left. Officer two was with me while I removed the plate and tag light. He explained that a blue light on the outside of the vehicle is illegal as well as the tag tint cover.
When I finished I handed him the tool to give back to officer 1. Officer 1 was sitting in his vehicle writing my ticket. I offered to give him my registration and insurance. He said he did not need it, so I sat in my vehicle for a few minutes while he finished writing my ticket. During this time officer 2 left.
Officer one walked up to my window and said that he was writing me a ticket for "Failure to stop for an emergency vehicle." he also said that "This ticket does not really fit the situation but it's the closest thing I can write you a ticket for." He had me sign the ticket and explained my options for fighting it or paying it. How I can take a class online so points do not go on my license, since it is a moving violation.
I told him to have a safe rest of his night and we parted ways.
To help illustrate my points here are some screenshots from google maps:
This is where I was pulling out of and how the officer pulled up next to me before he decided to change directions and pull me over.
The Napa Auto Parts Store in the screenshot is right about where he flipped on his lights.
Napa to Tom Thumb is the distance I drove with the officers lights. Plus his sirens comming on and off. Every business you see there is not lit very well, if at all, at 1am. Tom Thumb is extremly well lit and open 24 hours.
I am not sure what to do about this situation. I would like some input from some of you.. Who was in the right? Should I fight the ticket? Or should I just pay the $166 and be done with it?