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Can an off-duty cop write you a ticket?
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Can an off-duty cop write you a ticket?

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I notice that some people are assuming this happened to me, it didnt, it just came up in a conversation and i was curious.


Wow a question that is a wonderment to me....

Cops will do illegal drugs, get foolish in public and be down right a embarrassment to there community and say well I am off duty...
BUT when the table is turned and they do on duty stuff like this and say well I am a cop.....
This to me is BS.

I say no, morally they can not, but of course we all know cops have double standards and the community lets them get away with god complexes. Sorry you got mixed up in the complex....

Pooky Bear the Sensitive
Yes. If he is a big enough loser to carry around his citations on his own time then sure. In our department he would have to call in to dispatch and still get an event number for the ticket.

no, but im pretty sure they can hold you there until another cop shows up to give you one. And why do you have to say stuff like that?


NOLA guy
The answer is Yes for police officers who are commissioned 24/7, empowered to issue traffic citations, and are in their jurisdiction. However, you have to do something REALLY, REALLY annoying for an off-duty officer to spend the time writing you a ticket. I only had someone annoy me that much 3 times in almost 30 years.

Legally yes...however , his/her department policy may place restrictions on it.

Legally speaking, yes they can. They are allowed by law to write tickets and that allowance is not restricted by being on- or off-duty. However, departments nationwide usually do not allow this. The reason being is because off-duty officers are usually in their own personal vehicle and are out of uniform, making them not appear as though they are officers. To prevent public distrust in law enforcement on plain clothes officers in unmarked cars, many departments frown on this.

Also, officers don't want to do this off-duty. Many departments only require action by an off-duty officer in cases of major crimes such as mass shootings, carjackings, rapes, etc. Minor crimes and especially very minor things like traffic laws are something an off-duty officer doesn't want to enforce while they are not on-duty so many departments are happy to not require them to in light of the above-mentioned reason.

ok, first a officer may not be on duty, but they are always a police officer and always have police powers within thier jurisdiction.

Some departments may have rules that don't allow thier officers to do this.

Some of my best arrests were also done when I was off duty

They have their authority 24/7..


Could I ...yes, I could...but would I...Certainly not. I mean, do you do your job when your at home? For the most part, i mean if there was an emergency, of course I would act, but writing someone a ticket....let the guys working handle that, I'll be doing something more fun.

In some places yes. In most all states an officer is demanded by the law to take action in felonies or breaches of the peace regardless of on duty or not. Depends on the ticket I guess.

no, it has to be a police officer in uniform

Limp Dick
Cops are cops 24/7 regardless of whether they are in uniform.


It depends on the state and if the officer is within his jurisdiction. For example if the officer is off-duty and out of the county or city he is working for than generally he can not enforce TRAFFIC (infractions) laws. If he is within his jurisdiction, then yes he can enforce laws and even traffic.
It would not be good judgement though for an off-duty officer to take some form of action, especially out of his police car, for a minor infraction (running a stop sign, etc). Most agencies have policies against that and the officer would get reprimanded for that.
If for example the officer observes a car swerving all over the road that is hazard to harm someone, or crash (DUI) then yes it would be a time he might want to intervene. Also for any crimes he might observe as well.

It likely depends on your state's law. In CA, I could, in theory, right you a ticket if I were off duty ... AND I had a cite book with me ... AND you stopped for me.

In most instances a peace officer is a peace officer 24/7. Whether he or she can write a citation will be a matter of state law, agency policy, location/jurisdiction of the observation and cite, and the desire of an officer to actually write such a ticket off duty. I wouldn't.

However, what I MIGHT do (if I knew the driver) is long form the complaint to the DA (in other words, I'd write a report and send it to the DA requesting a summons be issued for the driver in question).

- Carl

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