Probable Reasons for Police to Pull You Over

Probable Reasons for Police to Pull You Over

Before a police officer can legally pull over a driver, he or she must have probable cause to do so. Maybe the vehicle has a broken taillight or the officer witnessed the driver run a red light. It could be the driver was speeding or swerving in and out of a lane. In some instances, the appearance of your vehicle alone could give police sufficient probable cause to pull you over.

The following are some of the most common examples of violations that could give an officer probable cause to pull you over:

  • Broken tail light or burned out headlight
  • Broken windshield
  • Broken or missed driver side mirror
  • No front license plate
  • Rear-end license plate light doesn’t work
  • Tinted cover over your license plate, making it difficult to read
  • Tint on the driver’s side or front passenger’s side windows
  • Expired or missing registration tags
  • Trailer hitch or other obstacle blocking the view of your license plate
  • Towing an unregistered trailer, vehicle or boat
  • Illegal modifications, such as an excessively loud exhaust
  • Driving on the freeway with a “donut” spare tire
  • Passenger leaning or hanging out the window

How to Avoid Getting Pulled Over

Most people know not to drink and drive. They also know that driving erratically or exhibiting signs of intoxication behind the wheel could lead to an officer pulling them over for a suspected OWI. Making unsafe lane changes, tailgating, veering in and out of lanes and other such behavior is likely to lead to you being pulled over and questioned by police. Obvious vehicle code violations can also give officers probable cause to pull you over.

Driving safely, adhering to the rules of the road, and making sure your vehicle is not in violation of state motor vehicle laws are the most effective ways to avoid getting pulled over by the police.

Whatever the case, police officers must have a valid reason to suspect that you or your vehicle have been involved in some type of traffic violation or criminal act. The officer cannot simply have a hunch something is wrong or pull vehicles over at random.

What to Do If You’ve Been Pulled Over By the Police

When you are driving along the road and notice a police officer signaling you to pull over, it is important you do so as quickly and safely as possible. Once your vehicle is at the side of the road, turn off your vehicle, roll down your windows and wait for the officer to come over. Do not attempt to rummage around or look for your driver’s license, registration or anything else until asked to do so, as the officer may mistake your actions to be those of attempting to hide evidence or reach for a weapon.

Once the officer comes over to your vehicle, he or she will likely ask if you know why you have been pulled over. If you do not, simply say you don’t know. It could be as simple as a broken tail light. If this is the case, the officer may just write a fix-it ticket and send you on your way. In most cases, the less you say, the better. You do not want your actions or words to inadvertently give the officer probable cause or reason to suspect some other type of illegal activity.

If the police make an unlawful stop, which then leads an arrest, a skilled criminal defense attorney may be able to argue that the officer had no legal grounds to pull you over in the first place. So long as it can be proven the traffic stop violated your constitutional rights, any evidence obtained after the fact cannot be used against you in court.

Contact Cafferty & Scheidegger, S.C. to schedule a free, initial consultation and review of your case.


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