Traffic Stop: Driving to a well lit area

A little help from the Dopers.

We had an elderly woman recently here stopped for having her high beams on. She drove to a well lit area and proceeded to get arrested.

Story here (Disclaimer: it’s my publication)

So my writer and I are trying to determine the validity of it. Melissa claims she’s always been told to do the ‘drive to a well lit area’ thing. I’ve found some examples of such advice but don’t have a feel for whether it’s legitimate or one of those ‘shared wisdom’ things.

Any Dopers have the inside scoop on this practice?

I didn’t read the article BUT, my thought would be to contact a news station in your area. Ask them if they have some sort of a saftey/crime prevention officer (a local cop) that they have on the news from time to time. Ya know, the cop that gives trick or treat saftey advice, the one that they have on after a rash of car jackings to tell you how to be safe while driving, they guy that gives advice on how to keep your house safe while on vacation. ISTM that would be the person to contact seeing as this is they type of advice they would give. (BTW I’m not saying turn your story over to the news team, just find someone to talk to). That’s where I would start. I think they could point you in the right direction.

I know our local Fox affiliate has one, it’s my uncle. If you want, I could put you in touch with him, he might be able to get you started.
ETA, if you google “police impersonator pull over” without quotes, you’ll find lots of articles on the subject. They always end with something along the lines of “blank county police say that if you’re uncomfortable…etc…drive slowly to a well lit area and pull over there”

No idea of the legitimacy, but I’d only heard that about unmarked vehicles or ones that otherwise look suspicious.

In Southern California, it’s pretty much understood that you can drive to a well-lit area. This, unfortunately, stems from the Craig Peyer case.

In reality, if you are not yielding to a police officer, you need to understand that they are going to call for backup. And if you (a) fail to dim your lights, and (b) fail to yield, they are going to think that you are drunk, high, or criminally stupid. In either case, they are going to want to have more units there when they actually stop you. And they are going to get on their radios and have everyone listening to a play-by-play of your direction/speed/vehicle code violations etc. Because they don’t know who you are or what you are doing. All they know is that you are not yielding as required - whether because you are drunk, in possession of something illegal, scared, high, have a cut brake line, etc. They simply do not know and have to prepare for the worst.

IMHO, the fact that the DA/City’s Attorney/whoever actually charged her indicates that there was probably plenty of indication that she was not quite the misguided “drive to a safe area like my children told me too” angel she argues that she is. That’s just IMHO by the way and definitely not fact.

ETA: I would definitely want more access to the facts/record (not that your publication is not presenting everything quite well) - it’s just that you really need to hear everything to figure out what was going on/whether the charge was justified/whether the crime was actually committed.

The “funny” thing is that the police said she should have known it was a real police car because displaying red and blue lights is illegal. We know that criminals always follow the law.

It was my understanding that in such a situation, a driver could turn on their hazard lights, thereby indicating that they know they are being pulled over. The driver then continues to a well-lit area with their hazards going.

It seems to me that if you proceed slowly and deliberately with your hazard lights on, without attempting to evade the police car following you, it should be pretty obvious that you are proceeding to a safe area.

I did this once when getting pulled over on the interstate. I saw I was getting pulled over and slowed to the same amount under the speed limit as I was over it when the cop first saw me. I drove 2-3 miles at about 60 miles an hour with my hazards on until I got to an exit. When I finally pulled off onto the exit, the officer didn’t even mention that I had driven with him on my tail for a few minutes before I pulled over. Heck, it probably didn’t take him any more time to make the stop, since he probably would have spent that time sitting in the car waiting for my plates to come back, anyway.

Hazards or not - and what I’ve read says you should put them on - I have always, in everything I have ever read on the topic heard that if there is any doubt, you should go somewhere public or well lit.

Having said that, if a woman sees multiple cars with lights flashing, that seems an awful lot less likely to be something to fear.

Having said that once a prosecutor hears her explanation, if he’s reasonable (as in: not a moron) he drops the case.

You drag a 76 year old woman from her car like that?

Thanks guys. Any further information is appreciated.

You would not BELIEVE the response to this one from the old lady set. So I hope to do a follow up story with more legal background.

Former prosecutor and Ohio muni court magistrate here. This is not legal advice; don’t quote me.

Just having read the article and this thread, I have to agree it looks like the officers might have overreacted, under the circumstances. Reasonableness is the standard. If she thought that she was in danger, she did not act unreasonably in continuing to drive to a safer area. But if the officers are to be believed - and apparently the jury did believe them, despite some relatively minor variances in their testimony - then she was not as fully cooperative as she might have been. The convictions and the fines thus seem appropriate to me, although the three-year suspension does not. (I’ve never heard of that being imposed in comparable cases).

I have to say, if I were the prosecutor in this case, I just might not charge her at all. But I only have a single news report to go on here, and the prosecutor, in speaking with the officers, might and probably does have a very different outlook on the case.

Cross-posted for your perusal. The LEO’s on this message board are an exemplary bunch; you should get at least a couple of good, serious answers.

Different Marietta, but situation as the lady describes. Last line of article is particularly interesting.