Can the Cops Follow Me Home From a Bar?

I have been defending people for over 25 years and before that, I was a prosecutor. Over my years in criminal defense, there’s one question that my clients have asked a lot, “Can the cops park outside of a bar and follow patrons home?” In a word, “No!” but that doesn’t stop cops from doing it all the time.

From law enforcement’s standpoint, it may make perfect sense to quietly park outside of West Palm Beach’s bars and wait for patrons to stumble out at closing time. As presumably intoxicated bar hoppers climb into their car and drive away, the cops can flip on their sirens and nab the patrons for driving under the influence, right? Wrong! In reality, this practice would be very impractical.

‘Probable Cause’ to Start a DUI Stop

In order for a cop to pull someone over for DUI, they must have what’s called probable cause to initiate a DUI stop. What counts as probable cause? Either one, a concerned citizen called in a “tip” about a suspected drunk driver, or two, the driver must have violated a traffic law, such as driving at night without their lights on, speeding, driving too slowly, running a red light or a stop sign.

Simply walking out of a bar and driving away, is NOT probable cause to initiate a DUI stop, but the problem is, cops are known to do it hoping nobody will notice. Can you imagine if the cops parked outside of drinking establishments waiting for intoxicated patrons to leave? It would be bad for business, very bad. Even if people called Uber and Lyft more often, people would be intimidated by the cops. Bar and nightclub owners would be upset and their profits would tank.

Drinking establishments could go out of business and that means less taxes to the city! If the police were allowed to park outside of bars and cherry-pick patrons as they leave bars and nightclubs, the whole economy could go downhill because drinking establishments would lose too much revenue at the cost of valuable tax dollars.

Favorite Bars in WPB

Here in West Palm Beach, we have gorgeous weather and world-class nightlife. Some of our favorite watering holes include Copper Blues Rock Pub & Kitchen, Roxy’s Pub, O’Sheas Irish Pub, the Blue Martini, the Loft Nightclub, and E.R. Bradley’s Saloon.

If you’ve been arrested for DUI immediately after leaving one of these popular destinations or another bar, I urge you to contact my firm to not only fight your DUI charges, but to see if you were a victim of an illegal police stop.

Related: Can I Be Deported for a Florida DUI?


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