No, Hillary Clinton Was Not Arrested for DUI after Maryland Car Chase

Woman arrested for DUI alongside Hillary Clinton
Photos: Fayette County Jail, U.S. Dept. of State

We need to clear something up: Hillary Clinton was not driving drunk in Maryland or Pennsylvania last week. And she was not arrested for DUI after a chase that crossed the state line.

The story involves a pursuit which started in Maryland, as sheriff’s deputies took off after a driver they believed to be intoxicated. The driver didn’t stop, and after she crossed the state line into Pennsylvania, the Fayette, PA county police got into the act. Eventually they laid down some road spikes that shredded her tires and brought her to a stop.

The driver’s name: Hillary Clinton. Or so she said.

Her real name was Holly Lynn Donahoo, and she was arrested for DUI and fleeing the police. She refused alcohol testing. This, together with her journey across state lines, brings up some questions:

Q: Can police pursue a suspect across state lines?

A: Yes. The old trope about a criminal making it across state lines to evade the police is mistaken. If an officer suspects a person of having committed a felony, he or she can chase a person into another jurisdiction. It’s called “fresh pursuit.” An officer can engage in fresh pursuit with or without a warrant, though there are limits and exceptions. Sometimes the practice is called hot pursuit, or even hot and fresh pursuit, which sounds very exciting.

Q: But drunk driving isn’t necessarily a felony.

A: No. But fleeing an officer is.  So once a suspect flees an officer, that officer generally has the right to fresh pursuit.

Q: The suspect refused alcohol testing. Does that mean she’ll evade the drunk driving charge?

A: No. You hear a lot of people advise suspects to refuse the alcohol test. But think about this: an officer does not need to use a breath test to determine that a suspect is under the influence. If they have other reasons to think so – say, you drive erratically, flee the police, or identify yourself as a former presidential candidate – they can detain you, and you face penalties for refusal. That’s true both in Maryland and Pennsylvania, by the way.

Q: Why did she identify herself as Hillary Clinton?

A: We’ll get back to you on that one.