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Are Police Officers allowed to Commandeer your Car?

  • Driving Tips
  • Xavier Sabastian
  • 4 minutes

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Movies have been made for a long time that show a police officer on foot or in a police car chasing a bad guy, and then something happens that forces the officer to tell someone to get out of their car. Now can you let a police officer commandeer your car? Read on to find out!

One sunny day in Miami, you’re driving with the top down and the wind in your hair when all of a sudden, a police officer is standing in front of your car. “Leave the car! I’m commandeering this car for a police chase!”¬†

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In the movie Speed, Keanu Reeves told Glenn Plummer that he had to give up his Jaguar. Some people wonder if it’s legal. Was it just for show to make us think the Jaguar was cool, or was Plummer’s worry about his car payment and safety meant to be funny?

Even though it was filmed on a Hollywood set, we should all remember that it could be true. Reeves did a good job of playing the part. He showed his badge, said his name clearly, and took over the wheel. But for safety reasons, it’s only sometimes a good idea to let Plummer ride along.

Do you follow the rules, or more importantly, should you?

Can Police Commandeer your Car?

Police officer has the right to take your car if they need to. The key word here is “need.” Officers can only ask to take control of a civilian car if it is important. This means that a person, a group of people, or an officer is in immediate or real danger.

But wait to hand over your keys. Civilian cars don’t have sirens or other safety features to warn others on the street. Because of liability concerns, it’s not likely that a police officer will use your car in a chase.

Police officer has the right to take your car if they need to. The key word here is "need." Officers can only ask to take control of a civilian car if it is important. This means that a person, a group of people, or an officer is in immediate or real danger.

What does the Law say?

Under California law, if you are an adult, you have to help a police officer who has proper identification and asks for your help to catch or arrest a suspect, get back an escaped prisoner or arrested person, or stop a crime. If you don’t, you might have to pay a fine of $50 to $1,000.

This Law is called “posse comitatus.” It is an old idea used when police needed the right tools to enforce the Law. They would ask regular people to help catch fugitives or a suspect on the run, even if it meant using private property. Even though the Law is old, it has been upheld by courts in the present day.

So, just as in Hollywood movies, when a cop is chasing down a suspect on foot, they technically have the right to request your car. This could be considered theft under criminal statutes. Under those statutes, however, is a defense of necessity. 

Under California law, if you are an adult, you have to help a police officer who has proper identification and asks for your help to catch or arrest a suspect, get back an escaped prisoner or arrested person, or stop a crime. If you don't, you might have to pay a fine of $50 to $1,000.

Bottomline

To sum up, it turns out that, while it’s very rare in modern times, the law allows the police to take your car like in the movies if there’s a pressing and immediate need, as long as that need isn’t for a double-glazed doughnut.

Unless that double-glazed doughnut is stolen by a thief trying to get away.

Then the officer wins, everyone else wins, and everyone wins. You get to catch the bad guy in a badass Hollywood way.

Spider Man Police GIF by INTO ACTION

via GIPHY

Does Your Insurance Cover Damages sustained during Chase?

Should you let the police officer take your car? You can decide. But if your car is taken and destroyed, you should have good insurance coverage.

The good news is that if the officer damages your car during the chase, neither you nor your car insurance company will have to pay for it. 

Use Way.com to protect yourself from other things that could go wrong. Way.com does all the hard work of finding cheap quotes from the best-known insurance companies and setting up your new car insurance. 

Way.com can even help you get rid of your old insurance policy. 

Here’s more info on¬†top-rated airport parking,¬†the best parking spots in your city, affordable¬†auto insurance, easy¬†auto refinance, and¬†high-quality car washes near you.¬†

 

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