The following article was authored by Scott R Ball, a Southern California attorney with offices in Santa Ana, CA. More information about Scott and his firm can be found on his website: www.octicketdefense.com
The US Constitution protects a person from being stopped by the police without a legitimate reason. Law enforcement may not pull over a vehicle without reasonable suspicion that some sort of crime has been committed. However, that reasonable suspicion can be for ANY crime, including very minor vehicle code infractions. Further, even if the true reason for the stop is because, for example, the driver is black and driving an expensive car in a nice neighborhood, or the occupants are four young men leaving a bar, as long there is a legitimate reason for the stop, these police actions are legal.
Top Excuses Used by Cops to Pull You Over
There are a number of minor violations police regularly use as an excuse to pull someone over based simply on prejudice. What can you do to avoid these? Don’t commit the following common vehicle code violations.
- Failure to have a front license plate. If your state issues two license plates (as does California), you are required to have both affixed to your vehicle.
- Illegal window tinting. Front side windows must allow at least 70% of light to pass through, and only the top four inches of the windshield may be tinted.
- Burnt-out lights. It is a vehicle code violation for any lights to be inoperable on your vehicle – not just tail and brake lights, but the small light that illuminates your license plate as well.
- Expired registration. This is an easy one to avoid, and probably the one most likely to get you pulled over. Pay your renewal fees, get your smog check, and make it legal!
- Obstructed windshield. It is illegal to have anything attached to the windshield or side windows that may obstruct the view of the driver. This section is commonly violated by affixing a GPS device with a suction cup to the front windshield, or hanging things from the rear view mirror. There is an allowance for stickers or other material in a five inch square on the bottom corner of the windshield on the driver’s side and a seven inch square in the bottom corner of the passenger side.
- Talking on your cell phone. Get a hands free device. They cost significantly less than the $170-something ticket. And given that this is a relatively new law, police WILL pull you over if they see you doing it.
- Don’t be an idiot in general. Excessive speeding, reckless driving, frequent lane changes, failing to signal, rolling through stop signs, and hundreds of other common violations of which you are already aware exist. Use common sense, and don’t give law enforcement the excuse they need to interrupt your commute.