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Lesson 1, Topic 4
In Progress

Obey the Law

Mel Dowdell June 28, 2020

The best way to avoid getting stop by the police is to obey the laws.


Follow are the top 20 reasons you can get pulled over.

1. Speeding

Go the speed limit—really! Speeding makes up about 54% of all police stops. Going over the speed limit is not only illegal, but it could also put you in a potentially life-threatening situation. The faster you go, the longer it takes for you to react to a change on the road, from flying debris to a car changing lanes or a pedestrian stepping into the street.

2. Texting While Driving

Texting while driving will get you pulled over. Most states have laws against texting while driving.

Texting while driving has become a life-threatening norm. When you consider their inexperience and lack of driving skills, cell phone use can be especially deadly for teen drivers. The benefits of not texting include:

  • Following the law
  • Being able to pay better attention
  • Being less likely to have a crash

High school students who frequent texting while driving is more likely to commit other offenses:

  • Less likely to wear a seat belt.
  • More likely to ride with a driver who had been drinking alcohol.
  • More likely to drink and drive.

The Facts: Cell phones are not just about texting. It includes social media, messaging apps, GPS, and music, can draw your attention away from the road.

3. Not Wear Your Seat Belts - "Click It or Ticket"

Not wearing your seat belts will get police attention. Every state has some seat belt laws.

In some states, not wearing your seat belt is considered a primary law while in others, it’s considered secondary.

Primary: Seat belt laws allow an officer to ticket a driver or passenger for not wearing their seat belt, regardless of whether any other traffic offense was taking place.

Secondary: Seat belt laws mean that an officer can issue a ticket for not wearing a seat belt only when another citable traffic infraction has occurred.

Laws vary by state. Review your state’s seat belt laws before you decide not to “click it”.

  • 17 states and the District of Columbia had a primary enforcement.
  • 16 states had a primary enforcement seat belt law covering only the front seats.
  • 17 states had a secondary enforcement seat belt law or no law.

Enhanced enforcement campaigns include supplemental patrols, an increased number of officers on patrol, or targeted patrols, which aim to increase citations during regularly scheduled patrols.

Did You Know? Seat belts saved an estimated 15,000 lives annually.

4. Following Too Close

Like speeding, following the car in front of you too closely can be dangerous. Rear-end collisions account for:

  • 23% of all vehicle crashes
  • 2,000 deaths annually
  • 950,000 injuries annually

What’s the best way to avoid the attention of a police officer? Leave a “safety cushion” of about two seconds between you and the car in front of you.

6. Not Using Your “blinker”

Not using a turn signal, or “blinker,” could result in a turn signal violation depending on your state. As simple as it may seem to “flick the switch,” drivers neglect to use their turn signals roughly 750 billion times a year! And the result? Turn signal neglect causes about 2 million crashes per year in the U.S., reports a study by the Society of Automotive Engineers. Do your best to remember to “flick the switch” when you’re changing lanes, turning, or entering traffic from a parking space or driveway. Even if it’s not required by law in your state, using your turn signal could help prevent a dangerous crash.


Operating a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol may be termed with different designations under different circumstances or in different states or jurisdictions, including:

  • DUI - driving under the influence
  • OUI - operating under the influence
  • DWI - driving while intoxicated

These offenses are serious and should not be taken lightly. All of these offenses indicate that the individual has been apprehended by a police officer while operating a vehicle under the influence of drugs or alcohol. The officer only needs to have an inclination that an individual might be intoxicated from their behavior:

  • Mild inconsistencies in their driving.
  • Their posture while they are driving.
  • Or for any number of other reasons that the officer can choose to make an initial stop.

Once the officer stops the individual, they can administer tests to confirm if the individual is legally intoxicated.

8. Improper Lane Change

The main example of an unsafe lane change is when a driver is veering from one lane to another without signaling. An officer may spot a series of brake lights on cars in various lanes and reach the conclusion that a driver is behaving recklessly. There are certain defenses to this type of argument.

  • Unsafe Lane Changes
  • Improper Passing
  • Passing on the right

One of the more complex and subjective traffic violations is an unsafe lane change. For an officer to issue this type of ticket, the driver must have weaved out of their lane into another lane without taking precautions.

9. Stop Sign/Stop Light Violation

If your vehicle enters an intersection any time after the signal light has turned red, you have committed a violation. The police can pull you over. If you inadvertently enter the intersection when the signal changes (waiting to turn left, for example) are not red light runners.

  • Red-light running is the leading cause of urban crashes today.
  • Red light runners cause hundreds of deaths and tens of thousands of injuries each year.
  • In 2018, 846 people were killed in crashes that involved red light running.
  • About half of those killed were pedestrians, bicyclists and people in other vehicles.
  • One in three people claim they personally know someone who has been injured or killed in a red-light-running crash
  • In 2000, there were 106,000 red-light running crashes that resulted in 89,000 injuries and 1,036 deaths in the U.S.

Did You Know? Over 55 percent of Americans admit to running red lights.

10. Drag Racing/Peeling Off

Pelling off will get police attention. Street racing will get you pulled over. Speed competition (sometimes referred to as “street racing,” “drag racing,” or “speed contests”) laws generally cover several types of car and motorcycle racing. These laws typically make it illegal to drive a vehicle on a highway or other premises open to the public in any race, speed contest, or acceleration contest.

  • squealing or spinning the tires.
  • rapid acceleration.
  • swerving or weaving in and out of traffic.
  • leaving visible tire acceleration marks.
  • causing unnecessary engine noise.
  • skidding or sliding upon acceleration or stopping.
  • causing the vehicle to turn abruptly or sway.

The penalties vary significantly by state. Depending on the jurisdiction and circumstances of the case, these offenses can be infractions, misdemeanors, or felonies. Potential penalties include:

  • community service.
  • driver’s license suspension.
  • Impound vehicle.
  • demerit points on the driving record.
  • Completion of a driver’s education course.

For purposes of these laws, street racing doesn’t necessarily have to be side-by-side drag racing.

11. Expired Registration Sticker

This is an easy one! Having an expired registration sticker is an easy way to get the attention of the police. Owner’s responsibility.

  • Make sure your temporary plate is visible.
  • Get a valid registration sticker.
  • Keep vehicle insurance documents in the vehicle.
  • Driver must possess a valid driver’s license.

Did You Know? If you do not have insurance, police can quickly tell by running your license plate.

12. Equipment Violations

Everyone knows the movie scene where a cop smashes a taillight to justify a traffic stop. But in real life, there's little need for that, our experts say. People commit a multitude of code violations all on their own. Leading the list are:

  • Heavily tinted windows
  • Burned-out headlights
  • Broken windshields
  • Expired tags
  • No front license plate (in California and some other states)
  • Loud exhaust modifications
13. Unpaid Traffic Tickets

This is an easy one! Racking up lots of unpaid parking or traffic tickets is an easy way to get the attention of the police. This is your responsibility:

  • Pay your ticket immediately. Don’t Forget!
  • If you contest the ticket and go to courts, do not forget your court date.
  • Keep record and receipt of payment in your car.

Did You Know? If you have unpaid ticket, the police can quickly tell by running your license plate.

15. Hazardous Driving

This is a catch-all category for common violations that each of our experts noted. Wiles ticks off his favorites without hesitation:

  • Improper lane changes
  • Illegal U-turns
  • Failures to yield
  • Unsafe speeds
  • Cruising in the left lane
16. Not Moving Over or Slowing Down for Emergency Vehicles

Many drivers aren't aware that there are laws requiring them to move over or slow down while passing an emergency vehicle on the side of the road.

  • All 50 states except Washington D.C. have Move Over
  • Each state has its own specific rules to the law.
  • Not doing so can result in a fine, license suspension, and/or jail time.

This is a serious law as it protects the men and women working alongside our busy, and often dangerous, roadways.

17. Not Completely Stopping at a Stop Sign

This is a big problem where I’m from, which is probably why people often call this the “California Stop.” No matter where you drive in the United States, you are required to make a complete stop when you come upon a stop sign. But that’s where there can be some debate--what exactly is a complete stop?

The legal definition of a complete stop is “when there is no forward momentum and the needle on the speedometer is at 0.” This means that there should be no forward movement of the vehicle at all. It’s important to note two things when making a complete stop:

18. Not Turning Headlights On When its Raining

Day or night, many states lawfully require drivers to keep their headlights on while their windshield wipers are in use. The rain impairs vision and reduces visibility of all drivers, even in the middle of the day.

Keeping your headlights on both increases visibility for the person driving the vehicle and makes it easier for other vehicles to spot said driver. Remember, headlights work both ways for increasing visibility.

19. Not Moving Over or Slowing Down for Emergency Vehicles

Many drivers aren't aware that there are laws requiring them to move over or slow down while passing an emergency vehicle on the side of the road.

  • All 50 US states except Washington D.C. have Move Over
  • Each state has its own specific rules to the law.
  • Not doing so can result in a fine, license suspension, and/or jail time.

This is a serious law as it protects the men and women working alongside our busy, and often dangerous, roadways.

Rule of thumb: Move over or slow down while passing emergency vehicles on side of road!

20. Changing Lanes in the Middle of An Intersection

Many drivers don’t change lanes while driving in the middle of the intersection because they believe it is against the law. As changing lanes mid-intersection can be dangerous, many states don’t consider it illegal. Still, some states, like Ohio, do consider it illegal.

  • Intersections are often busy areas.
  • Such areas are often considered unsafe to change lanes in.
  • Even if there is no law, the action is still often frowned upon.

If a witnessing police officer considers the mid-intersection lane change unsafe, you can be cited for it.

Rule of thumb: Don’t change lanes in the middle of an intersection!