The Driver series began in 1999 when GT Interactive Software published a game for the PlayStation titled Driver. Eventually more games in the series were released. They had titles like Driver 2 and Driver 3. You play as an NYPD detective that goes undercover by impressing organized crime with your excellent driving skills. This week I’ve prepared a focused, short, post on examining how the police that don’t know he is undercover deal with him.
Legal thriller The Departed taught us all that police can go undercover and embed themselves with the criminal underground. There are plenty of tricky legal questions about what they can do while there. This article only covers what the police are allowed to do when they encounter a lawbreaker that is driving. It does not matter that the man speeding or endangering the public is a police officer in this case. There are a few distinct things the police will chase you for in Driver. If you are speeding, hit another car, knock over signs, run a red light, use your handbrake, drive at night without your lights on, or hit the police you will raise your felony level and you will be chased if the police notice you.
When the police chase you in the Driver series they have a very simple mission, to stop your car by ramming it until it doesn’t work. In real life, the high profile case of Scott v. Harris, 550 U.S. 372 (2007) dealt with whether the police used excessive force when they used a precision intervention technique (PIT) maneuver to stop Harris when he was speeding. Objective reasonableness is the test used when examining this issue because when the police intentionally collide with another vehicle it is a Fourth Amendment seizure. Many factors can weigh in the decision. The Supreme Court ruled that the use of force was reasonable in this case. As such, with how dangerous the activities you do in Driver, the police would probably be allowed to use a PIT maneuver to stop you. It would almost absolutely be ruled illegal for the police to continue ramming your vehicle after you have been stopped, especially if you are still in the vehicle. In Driver this is not a problem. It doesn’t even matter what the crime is. Use of your handbrake can signal to the police that you are a criminal. This creates a much lower risk to the public than speeding or driving at night without your lights on, but the police can use just as much force. So either the Fourth Amendment has been written differently in Driver world, or it has been interpreted differently by the courts so that hitting civilian vehicles is not considered a seizure.
In the Driver series the police have a very straightforward way of dealing with crimes on the road. They use their vehicles to make sure the law breaker can never drive again. There is no problem with this because one of the fundamental laws of their society is different from ours, or because their courts have been interpreting laws differently than our courts for years. That’s a quick and dirty interpretation of Driver law.