2021 Georgia Code
Title 40 - Motor Vehicles and Traffic
Chapter 13 - Prosecution of Traffic Offenses
Article 2 - Arrests, Trials, and Appeals
§ 40-13-30. Authority to Make Arrests

Universal Citation: GA Code § 40-13-30 (2021)

Officers of the Georgia State Patrol and any other officer of this state or of any county or municipality thereof having authority to arrest for a criminal offense of the grade of misdemeanor shall have authority to prefer charges and bring offenders to trial under this article, provided that officers of an incorporated municipality shall have no power to make arrests beyond the corporate limits of such municipality unless such jurisdiction is given by local or other law.

(Ga. L. 1937-38, Ex. Sess., p. 558, § 9; Ga. L. 1992, p. 2785, § 29.)

Cross references.

- Provisions regarding procedure for arrests for violation of motor vehicle laws, § 17-4-23.

Display of driver's license in lieu of bail, formal recognizance, or incarceration for violations of traffic laws, § 17-6-11.


Outer limits of municipal officer's authority for misdemeanor arrests.

- Ga. L. 1937-38, Ex. Sess., p. 558, § 9 (see now O.C.G.A. § 40-13-30) defines outer limits of a municipal officer's authority in making arrest for misdemeanors and traffic offenses. Jones v. City of Pembroke, 220 Ga. 213, 138 S.E.2d 276 (1964).

Authority to issue citations.

- University police officer had authority under O.C.G.A. § 40-13-30 to issue citations for an accident that occurred at an intersection that bordered the campus, and the trial court, therefore, properly denied the defendant's motion for a directed verdict of acquittal under O.C.G.A. § 17-9-1 relating to the charge of failing to obey a traffic control device in violation of O.C.G.A. § 40-6-20; the broad language of § 40-13-30 gave any officer of Georgia that had authority to arrest for a misdemeanor the authority to prefer charges and bring offenders to trial. Hawkins v. State, 281 Ga. App. 852, 637 S.E.2d 422 (2006).

Arrest powers outside officers' appointed territories.

- Ga. L. 1937-38, Ex. Sess., p. 558, § 9 (see now O.C.G.A. § 40-13-30) provides by implication that certain officers (including deputy sheriffs) have arrest powers for these offenses outside the officers' appointed territories. This interpretation is compelled by the statute's specific territorial restriction of only municipal officers. City of Winterville v. Strickland, 127 Ga. App. 716, 194 S.E.2d 623 (1972).

Under common law, even a municipal officer has power of arrest outside the officer's city limits when a hot pursuit situation exists; therefore, an officer's pursuit of the defendant in a truck matching the description of a stolen vehicle, which went into an adjoining county, was authorized. Hastings v. State, 211 Ga. App. 873, 441 S.E.2d 83 (1994).

Trial court did not err in granting police officers summary judgment in a citizen's action alleging false imprisonment, assault and battery, and intentional infliction of emotional distress in connection with the defendant's arrest because the arrest was lawful under O.C.G.A. § 17-4-20 since obstruction occurred in the officers' presence; even if the officers did not have probable cause to arrest the defendant, the officers had the authority and discretion to arrest outside the officers' jurisdiction for offenses committed in the officers' presence and, therefore, the officers' immunity could not be defeated by the officers' decision to arrest outside of the officers' jurisdiction. Taylor v. Waldo, 309 Ga. App. 108, 709 S.E.2d 278 (2011).

Even though the deputy sheriff thereafter crossed into an adjoining county in search of a safer location to conduct a DUI investigation, the sheriff was not deprived of the authority to then arrest the defendant for the crimes committed in the sheriff's presence. Suggs v. State, 343 Ga. App. 71, 806 S.E.2d 224 (2017).

"Hot pursuit" exception authorized.

- Exception to Ga. L. 1937-38, Ex. Sess., p. 558, § 9 (see O.C.G.A. § 40-13-30) is an instance in which a crime is committed in the municipality and the officer's "hot pursuit" takes the officer beyond the officer's geographical limits to effectuate the arrest. Wooten v. State, 135 Ga. App. 97, 217 S.E.2d 350 (1975); Poss v. State, 167 Ga. App. 86, 305 S.E.2d 884 (1983).

Policeman's legal authority under the "hot pursuit" doctrine under Ga. L. 1937-38, Ex. Sess., p. 558, § 9 (see now O.C.G.A. § 40-13-30) includes both the power to arrest and the power to perform other normal police functions incidental to and necessitated by the arrest. Wooten v. State, 135 Ga. App. 97, 217 S.E.2d 350 (1975).

Arrest is valid when the crime was committed in a municipality and a city officer gave "hot pursuit" which took the officer beyond the limits of the municipality to effectuate the arrest. Argonaut Ins. Co. v. Head, 149 Ga. App. 528, 254 S.E.2d 747 (1979).

Critical elements characterizing "hot pursuit" are the continuity and immediacy of the pursuit, rather than merely the rate of speed at which pursuit is made. Poss v. State, 167 Ga. App. 86, 305 S.E.2d 884 (1983).

"Hot pursuit" doctrine applied.

- When the only violation committed in the presence of city officers was exceeding the speed limit in violation of a city ordinance, the "hot pursuit" doctrine still would apply. Argonaut Ins. Co. v. Head, 149 Ga. App. 528, 254 S.E.2d 747 (1979).

Although an arresting officer of an incorporated municipality normally did not have the power to make arrests beyond the corporate limits of that municipality, the officer's arrest of the defendant in a neighboring county was authorized under the "hot pursuit" doctrine since the officer spotted the car the defendant was reportedly traveling in inside the county where the officer had arresting authority, and the officer continuously and immediately pursued the defendant's car into the neighboring county where the officer waited for backup to arrive in order to make the arrest; thus, the traffic stop of the defendant following a dispatch that the defendant was a suspected shoplifter was legal and the defendant's motion to suppress the evidence was properly denied. Margerum v. State, 260 Ga. App. 398, 579 S.E.2d 825 (2003).

Conservation officer/ranger engaged in official duties in enforcing traffic.

- Sufficient evidence supported the defendant's convictions of felony and misdemeanor obstruction of an officer and driving without carrying a license because the on-duty and uniformed conservation ranger had authority to arrest and was authorized to enforce traffic offenses and the state showed that the ranger was acting within the lawful discharge of official duties when the defendant was asked to turn down the music from the vehicle. Thornton v. State, 353 Ga. App. 252, 836 S.E.2d 541 (2019), aff'd, 310 Ga. 460, 851 S.E.2d 564 (2020).

Cited in Newmans v. State, 65 Ga. App. 288, 16 S.E.2d 87 (1941); Dodd v. State, 85 Ga. App. 589, 69 S.E.2d 784 (1952); Wright v. State, 134 Ga. App. 406, 214 S.E.2d 688 (1975); McLarty v. State, 176 Ga. App. 433, 336 S.E.2d 273 (1985); Delong v. State, 185 Ga. App. 314, 363 S.E.2d 811 (1987); Page v. State, 250 Ga. App. 795, 553 S.E.2d 176 (2001); Grech v. Clayton County, 335 F.3d 1326 (11th Cir. 2003); Duprel v. State, 301 Ga. App. 469, 687 S.E.2d 863 (2009), overruled on other grounds by Zilke v. State, 299 Ga. 232, 787 S.E.2d 745 (2016).


Sheriff is authorized to enforce traffic regulations on the highways of this state. 1969 Op. Att'y Gen. No. 69-385.

"Hot pursuit" doctrine.

- Municipal police officers may go beyond city limits in "hot pursuit" situations and make arrests. 1975 Op. Att'y Gen. No. U75-73.

Constable's authority limited.

- In the absence of a warrant, a constable does not have the authority to enforce the motor vehicle laws of this state. 1975 Op. Att'y Gen. No. U75-56.


Am. Jur. 2d.

- 7A Am. Jur. 2d, Automobiles and Highway Traffic, §§ 24, 106, 107, 273, 313,349, 361. 8 Am. Jur. 2d, Automobiles and Highway Traffic, §§ 955, 956, 963, 989.


- Degree of force that may be employed in arresting one charged with a misdemeanor, 42 A.L.R. 1200.

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