Can the Washington State Patrol Pull You Over in Town?

So I was heading down Olympia Street in Kennewick a few days and I saw that a Washington State Patrol trooper had a car pulled over and was handing out a ticket.


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The spot is right off the highway but it still got me thinking.

We normally see WSP on the freeways and highways but not normally not in town writing tickets.

I did a little digging and discovered something pretty interesting about the WSP and the jurisdiction within a town's city limits.

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First off, yes, the Washington State Patrol (WSP) can pull you over in town. While their primary responsibility is enforcing laws on state highways, they have statewide jurisdiction.

This means they can perform traffic stops and enforce laws anywhere within the state of Washington, including within city limits.

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What was interesting and it dates back to 1957, is whether officers of the Washington State Patrol have the authority to enforce city ordinances within the corporate limits of a city.

On the Attorney General's page, they answer the question:

The authority of officers of the Washington State Patrol to enforce city ordinances within the corporate limits of a city has been answered by the above and foregoing analysis.  The legislation cited above creating the state patrol was designed to create a police force for the purpose of enforcing only state laws concerning the general public and the state at large.  Consequently, officers of the state patrol, in our opinion, are without authority to enforce city ordinances of local origin and nature.

So the likelihood of seeing a WSP trooper enforcing a city ordinance is unlikely. They can pull you over for a traffic infraction in town but the city's police department will handle other infractions.

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