Can Police Arrest for DUI Outside the City Limits?

dui outside the cityDoes a police officer have the right to stop and arrest a driver suspected of DUI if the arrest occurs outside the city limits?  People often mistakenly believe that a police officer loses his right to arrest at the jurisdictional limits of a town, city or county.

In Williams v. State, 1962 OK CR 80, 373 P.2d 91, a motorist was convicted of driving under the influence. He was originally observed by a city police officer to be driving erratically within the city limits, at which point the officer pursued the driver, stopped his vehicle, and placed him under arrest almost three miles from town. The driver argued that the police officer was outside the city limits and therefore without authority to make the arrest for a misdemeanor DUI.

In rejecting that argument, the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals held as follows:

Where police officer finds an accused outside the city limits of municipality on a public highway and in a drunken condition, even though said officer held no commission as a county or state officer, still, by provision of Tit. 22 O.S.1941, § 202, he had a right and it was his duty to arrest said person, and he had the further right to take possession of intoxicating liquor observed in the front part of accused’s ditched automobile.

See Williams at para. 20.

The provision of law relied upon by the Court is the right of a private citizen to make an arrest for a misdemeanor committed in his presence.  In other words, the right to make a citizen’s arrest dissolves any problem that may exist relative to an arrest that occurs outside the jurisdictional limits of a city or town.

Attempting to elude the officer by escaping beyond the city limits will not thwart the arrest, and will likely result in additional charges being filed.