Drivers in Louisiana have learned to drive with their heads on a swivel. Literally, you’ve got to be looking in not just some directions but all directions if you’re going to drive a vehicle on Louisiana roadways. Sometimes what you’re looking out for is other drivers. Other times, you might be trying to avoid a pothole the size of a washing machine. And then again, there are times when we all drive on our best behavior because we just saw a police officer.

Lafayette Police Cruiser
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Here in Louisiana where we are our law enforcement vehicles are usually State Police Cruisers, Sheriff’s units, or patrol cars from our municipal police departments. The men and women who serve our communities and pilot those vehicles do an outstanding job of patrolling our streets and arriving quickly at the first sign of trouble.

But no matter how squeaky clean your driving record is or how much of an upstanding citizen you happen to be, I think we all get a little nervous when an officer is riding behind us. I know for me I instantly start thinking of things like turn indicator bulbs, proper license plate decals, inspection sticker dates, and other minor infractions that I could be guilty of simply because many of those tasks are out of sight and out of mind for most of the year.

Jaromir Kavan via Unsplash.com
Jaromir Kavan via Unsplash.com
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Then the officer turns left when I turn right, and I breathe a huge sigh of relief. But that did get me thinking. I know our peace officers have certain standards and policies that they must follow when they engage the public.

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Is There a Limitation on How Far or How Long a Police Officer Can Follow You in Louisiana?

You may have had people tell you in the past that “the police can only follow you for one mile” or perhaps you’ve heard “they can only follow you for ten minutes”. Quite frankly we don’t know how those old wife's tales got started. It was probably started by the same guy who told you to put pennies in your mouth to beat a breathalyzer. By the way, that’s wrong too.

The fact is that an officer can follow you in your car for as long as he or she needs. This is assuming that they were actually following you and not just conveniently going in the same direction as you. The courts have given officers leeway to follow as long as they need to determine if the motorist is breaking the law or if there is a reasonable suspicion to make a traffic stop.

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So, the next time you see an officer or a person with a luggage rack on top of their car that makes you think they’re an officer, do this. Drive as if you were taking your driver’s license test all over again. Stop completely at every red light and stop sign. You should overuse your turn signals. Make sure you stay within the posted speed. And, if you’re in Louisiana make sure that daiquiri you bought at the drive-through still has that little piece of tape on the straw. If you know, you know.

Driving
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Please continue to drive safely and realize that the men and women of law enforcement are out there to keep you safe. So, you do your part and not break the law and they’ll do their part which is making sure that lawbreakers are brought to justice or at least in for the day in court.

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Gallery Credit: Bruce Mikells

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