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View Full Version : Can the FBI pull someone over?


diggleblop
12-19-2007, 01:07 PM
Now, I'll elaborate. I know that the FBI doesn't usually do any such thing for obvious reasons of anonymity and professionalism, not to mention, they aren't police.

But, if I'm on the Capitol Beltway and I'm flying past people erratically at the speed of about 95mph and one of those cars happens to be an FBI, would they or could they pull me over for reckless driving and wait until local police get there?

Has this ever happened? I mean, they are "upholders of the law" and if no other cop is around and they couldn't get in touch with the local PD, I mean.....what happens?

kidchameleon
12-19-2007, 01:11 PM
Now, I'll elaborate. I know that the FBI doesn't usually do any such thing for obvious reasons of anonymity and professionalism, not to mention, they aren't police.

But, if I'm on the Capitol Beltway and I'm flying past people erratically at the speed of about 95mph and one of those cars happens to be an FBI, would they or could they pull me over for reckless driving and wait until local police get there?

Has this ever happened? I mean, they are "upholders of the law" and if no other cop is around and they couldn't get in touch with the local PD, I mean.....what happens?

Sure, the Bu-cars are equiped with lights and sirens, so it's not like you'd know the difference. They also have police band radios, so they can communicate with the local police. However most don't want to deal with the hassel that is involved nor are they really prepared to deal with that. My former recruiter would just give them a blast from the lights and sirens if they were doing stupid stuff on Lake Shore Blvd. and no police were around. Few people expect that from a Jeep Liberty.

aldiboronti
12-19-2007, 01:17 PM
Do they have the power to arrest you for a traffic offence though? Apparently even with a federal offence their powers of arrest are limited, at least according to this site (http://www.princetonreview.com/cte/profiles/dayInLife.asp?careerID=64)

.............. FBI agents have limited power to arrest and no power to punish those suspected of violating federal law. An FBI agent investigates and reports, and when other government agencies make the arrest, they often invite the FBI agent or agents who were involved with the case, but merely as a courtesy.

CookingWithGas
12-19-2007, 05:34 PM
IANAL or cop but I think there would be a jurisdiction problem there unless they witness you committing a federal crime and then take hot pursuit.

Gfactor
12-19-2007, 05:43 PM
18 U.S.C. 3052 gives FBI agents the power to "serve warrants and subpoenas issued under the authority of the United States and make arrests without warrant for any offense against the United States committed in their presence, or for any felony cognizable under the laws of the United States if they have reasonable grounds to believe that the person to be arrested has committed or is committing such felony."http://www.straightdope.com/mailbag/mprezarrest.htm

friedo
12-19-2007, 07:10 PM
Yeah, but traffic violations are not "a crime against the United States." Unless it's on federal land of some sort, like a military base (in which case the MPs do it) or an Indian reservation (in which case the tribal police or sheriff would do it) or a federal park (in which case it's the US Park Police)...well, you get the picture.

So, as a practical matter, the FBI could legally pull you over for a traffic violation in limited circumstances, but it's unlikely that they'd do so.

Gfactor
12-19-2007, 07:27 PM
Yeah, but traffic violations are not "a crime against the United States."
I was responding to aldiboronti's cite.

So, as a practical matter, the FBI could legally pull you over for a traffic violation in limited circumstances, but it's unlikely that they'd do so.

I don't have time to look up statutes and the like right now, but I suspect state and municipal laws are pretty specific about who can actually write the ticket. The best the FBI could really do, is stop you and call the local authorities. And, although you'd pretty much have to stop because you wouldn't know they weren't after you for a bank robbery, they probably wouldn't have the legal authority to stop you for a violation of a municipal ordinance unless local law authorizes them to do so.

Saint Cad
12-19-2007, 07:58 PM
Yeah, but traffic violations are not "a crime against the United States." Unless it's on federal land of some sort, like a military base (in which case the MPs do it) or an Indian reservation (in which case the tribal police or sheriff would do it) or a federal park (in which case it's the US Park Police)...well, you get the picture.


But the OP implied that the violation occured in the District of Columbia

Shagnasty
12-19-2007, 08:18 PM
I think they would run into hopeless jurisdiction issues especially if they are in the U.S. I grew up right on the Louisiana/Texas border with only one bridge for miles around joining the two states by vehicle traffic. We all knew that any non-serious offender could just flee over the bridge and be done with the matter at hand at least for the time-being and the same was true from the opposite direction. Many people did flee successfully.

For felony offenses, the police in either state could continue pursuit as long as they turned out their lights as they passed over the border and make what amounts to a citizens arrest but anyone can do that. The police lost their true law enforcement powers as they passed out of their jurisdiction.

I can't see how the FBI could make an out of jurisdiction stop other than a citizen's arrest in an emergency. There are a lot of wheels that turn for any infraction. It isn't like FBI agents would want to be called into court to testify on a careless and reckless driving charge that they had no jurisdiction over anyway.

Antonius Block
12-20-2007, 04:06 AM
But the OP implied that the violation occured in the District of ColumbiaThe OP specified the Capitol [sic] Beltway.

Assuming that he's referring to the Capital Beltway (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Interstate_495_%28Capital_Beltway%29) (I-495), it can be seen from this map (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Capital_Beltway_Map_Color.svg) that the relevant jurisdictions are the State of Maryland and the Commonwealth of Virginia, since the Beltway surrounds -- but at no point at no point crosses -- the District of Columbia.

[And if the OP were to speed in DC, it would be the DC police -- not the FBI -- who would have primary jurisdiction.]