Court Holdings Pertaining to the Authority of the Stonehaven Community Patrol (Private Persons) to Detain Individuals Operating Motor Vehicles in a Manner that Constitutes a Breach of the Public Peace (Erratic, Dangerous, or Reckless Driving)

United States Federal Courts, North Carolina State Courts, and courts in several other states have repeatedly held that a private citizen has the authority to stop and detain individuals that are operating motor vehicles on public roadways in an erratic, dangerous, or reckless manner. Some of these court holdings are listed below:

United States v. Sealed Juvenile, 255 F.3d 213 (2001)

A private citizen may detain the operator of a motor vehicle being operated on a public roadway if the vehicle is being operated in an erratic, dangerous, or reckless manner constituting a breach of the public peace under state law in his presence; Intoxicated driving undeniably violates the public peace.

A private citizen, while contacting law enforcement officers, may employ flashing lights, siren in stopping and detaining the operator of  a motor vehicle being driven in an erratic, reckless, or dangerous manner on a public roadway.

(A Breach Of The Public Peace is an offense  embracing a great variety of conduct disturbing, destroying,  or menacing public order and tranquility. It includes not only violent acts, but acts and words likely to produce violence in others (See Cantwell v. Connecticut, 310 U.S. 296, 308 (1940)). In its broadest sense, the term, Breach of the Public Peace, refers to any criminal offense (See Williamson v. U.S., 207 U.S. 425 (1908)). Today, the term, Breach of the Public Peace,  is generally used to describe conduct which unreasonably threatens the public peace, and which lacks a specific criminal label; by statute, such conduct is often called “disorderly conduct” as the specific criminal offense; The term has been defined by state courts as “disturbances of the public peace”, violative of order and decency or decorum (See Newby v. District Court of Woodbury County, 147 N.W. 2d 886, 892 (1967)); and, any violation of any law enacted to preserve peace and good order (See 236 P. 57, 59); It signifies disorderly, dangerous, conduct that is disruptive of public peace (See 150 A. 2d 731, 739)).

State v. Lanier, 71 N.C. 288 (1874)

We think it may be conceded that driving on a crowded street at such a rate of speed or in such a manner as to endanger the safety of the inhabitants amounts to a Breach of the Peace and is an indictable offence at common law.

Parker v. Hyatt, 196 N.C. App. 489 (2009)

Driving while intoxicated is a crime that constitutes a threat to public peace.

State v. Weaver, ___ N.C. App. ___, 752 S.E. 2d 240 (2013)

A private person may detain a motorist suspected of driving while intoxicated and surrender that person to a law enforcement officer for investigation of the supposed offense.

Ruiz v. State, 907 S.W.2d 600 (1995)

If a traffic violation is egregious enough to threaten disaster and disorder, or pose a potentially perilous risk to the public, it constitutes a breach of the public peace.

Operating a vehicle in the wrong traffic lane (eastbound in the westbound lane) places the life of that vehicle’s operator, as well as the lives of other motorists on the roadway, in danger constituting a breach of the public peace.

An individual commits a breach of the peace when he engages in conduct that causes disquiet and disorder in a public place although he does not employ actual personal violence in doing so.

Crowley v. State, 842 S.W.2d 701 (1992)

A driver who left the scene of an accident without providing insurance information breached the public peace because she “invaded the security and protection of every citizen when she failed to stop and provide the information required by statute.”

Hackett v. State, 357 S.W.2d 391 (1962)

Defendant committed a breach of the peace when, from his car, he threw out a soda bottle that struck the car of another motorist.

Published on July 29, 2011 at 3:50 pm  Leave a Comment  

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