This is, in fact, true. A police officer in Texas can arrest you for minor traffic offenses excluding speeding. Sounds strange, huh? When I heard this from a lawyer friend of mine, I was left scratching my head thinking that this couldn’t be true, but I did a little research myself and found that this is true. The case is Atwater vs. Lago Vista, 99-1408. I found an article from ABC news which confirmed that in 1997 Gail Atwater was arrested for not wearing her seat belt:
The officer arrested Gail Atwater, handcuffed her hands behind her back and took her to the city police station. A friend looked after her children and her pickup truck was towed away.
Texas law allows police to make arrests for routine traffic violations, except for speeding..
From my understanding, Atwater sued the city under the pretense that her Constitutional rights, specifically her Fourth Amendment Rights were violated. However:
The high court majority rejected her argument that police should not have arrested her for a crime that would carry no jail time.
“The arrest and booking were inconvenient to Atwater, but not so extraordinary as to violate the Fourth Amendment,” Justice David H. Souter wrote for the majority.
So, for all of you Texas drivers out there, it pays to be nice to the attending officer if you get pulled over for something other than speeding. Don’t have your seat belt on? You can be arrested. Run a stop sign? You can be arrested.
Now, that being said, you probably aren’t going to be held for a minor traffic violation, that is as long as you just follow the rules and don’t make that officer’s job any harder than it already is. Remember, they never really know what type of situation they are going into, even on a routine traffic stop. They have one of the most dangerous jobs you can have, so just go with the flow be nice.
What do you think about this story? Do you agree, or disagree?