So, you’re driving along, minding your own business when you see those flashing lights in your rearview mirror and you think, “Hey! What did I do? Can he do that?” The answer is “probably”, but forewarned is forearmed. So read on to learn how, when and why law enforcement officers can, and probably will, pull you over on a traffic stop.
Legal Reasons for a Traffic Stop – Reasonable Suspicion
Cops shouldn’t just be pulling motorists over arbitrarily. The law says they must have reasonable suspicion that you are or have been doing something wrong. DUI checkpoints and sobriety roadblocks are the exception to this rule, but they’re legal in New Jersey so, deal with it. With that out of the way, here is a list of some common reasons that a cop may have reasonable suspicion to make a traffic stop.
- Erratic driving that may indicate impairment.
- Dangerous driving that could potentially put other motorists and pedestrians in danger.
- Using a mobile device while driving.
- Failure to use a turn signal.
- Expired registration tags.
- Missing or obscured license plate.
- Faulty headlights or brake lights.
- You and/or your vehicle matches the description of one that has been announced to have committed a crime (i.e. Be on the Lookout – BOLO).
Other Reasons That Raise Your Odds of Being Stopped
In addition to clearly legal reasons to pull you over, there are actions you may take on the road that increase the probability that a cop will notice you and instigate a traffic stop.
- Standing out from the crowd. If you are clearly traveling faster than the rest of traffic, you are practically asking to be pulled over.
- Going more than 10 miles over the speed limit. Sure, you shouldn’t speed, but if you are inclined to do so, keep it within 5 to 10 miles per hour above the speed limit and try to stay with the flow of traffic.
- Driving either in the front of the pack or trailing behind. It’s no surprise that motorists speed, many of them, and the group dynamic means there is often a pack of cars speeding on the freeway, highway or interstate. It’s best to stay in the middle to avoid being picked off by highway patrol.
- Angering a trucker or another driver with discourteous driving. It doesn’t take much for one of those motorists to call up highway patrol on their cell phone to give them a detailed “heads up” about your car.
- Playing a little fast and loose with the traffic laws in an unfamiliar area. LEO may be lying in wait, but you aren’t privy to their regular hiding spots.
- Driving after bar close or during peak holiday times. This just naturally raises the odds of being pulled over.
- Driving a flashy, loud, high-profile vehicle. Hey, you wanted attention right? Well, you got it.
The experienced traffic and DUI Attorneys of the Reinartz Law Firm can advise you of your rights and options if you are facing a New Jersey traffic offense.