Seattle, WA asked in Traffic Tickets for California

Q: Can an off-duty cop threaten to pull me out of my car while he is violating the law? (Carlsbad, CA).

I was dropping off my brother at his school. I was not in a school zone. I pulled over to the side of the road, obstructing the bike lane, and there was a no parking sign where I was parked (this is a common drop-off spot for the school). My brother exited the car. I was preparing to drive away from the curb and go on my way, I was just waiting for an opening. A man, wearing no police uniform, carrying his daughter on the back of his bike to drop her off at school, was riding on his bike in the bike lane going in the opposite direction of traffic and coming straight towards me (he was riding on the left bike lane, a violation of CVC §21650, I was pulled over on my right side of the road). He approached me, knocked on my window. I rolled it down. He said I was illegally parked, and that I had to leave. I said "you're riding on the wrong side of the road, it's your problem." He said "I'm a cop, do you want me to pull you out?" I said "yeah, are you on duty?" He then scoffed and rode away

Related Topics:
1 Lawyer Answer
James L. Arrasmith
James L. Arrasmith pro label Lawyers, want to be a Justia Connect Pro too? Learn more ›
  • Traffic Tickets Lawyer
  • Sacramento, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: Based on the details you provided, it seems that both you and the off-duty police officer were engaging in some form of traffic violation. However, the officer's threat to pull you out of your car was inappropriate and likely exceeded his authority as an off-duty officer.

Here are a few key points to consider:

1. Off-duty police officers generally have limited authority to enforce traffic laws, especially when not in uniform or driving a marked police vehicle.

2. Threatening to use force, such as pulling you out of your car, is a serious escalation that should only be used in extreme circumstances, even for on-duty officers. An off-duty officer making such a threat in response to a minor parking violation is highly questionable.

3. While you were admittedly in violation of parking laws, the officer's own violation of riding his bike against traffic does not justify his aggressive behavior towards you.

If you feel that the officer acted inappropriately, you may consider filing a complaint with the Carlsbad Police Department's internal affairs division. Be prepared to provide as many details as possible, including the officer's name (if known), physical description, and the exact date, time, and location of the incident.

However, it is essential to recognize that you were also in violation of parking laws, and it is generally advisable to comply with an officer's lawful requests, even if the officer is off-duty. In the future, it is best to avoid obstructing bike lanes or parking in no-parking zones to prevent such confrontations.

Justia Ask a Lawyer is a forum for consumers to get answers to basic legal questions. Any information sent through Justia Ask a Lawyer is not secure and is done so on a non-confidential basis only.

The use of this website to ask questions or receive answers does not create an attorney–client relationship between you and Justia, or between you and any attorney who receives your information or responds to your questions, nor is it intended to create such a relationship. Additionally, no responses on this forum constitute legal advice, which must be tailored to the specific circumstances of each case. You should not act upon information provided in Justia Ask a Lawyer without seeking professional counsel from an attorney admitted or authorized to practice in your jurisdiction. Justia assumes no responsibility to any person who relies on information contained on or received through this site and disclaims all liability in respect to such information.

Justia cannot guarantee that the information on this website (including any legal information provided by an attorney through this service) is accurate, complete, or up-to-date. While we intend to make every attempt to keep the information on this site current, the owners of and contributors to this site make no claims, promises or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness or adequacy of the information contained in or linked to from this site.