While the most effective way to avoid traffic tickets is to stay within the law, there are still instances when even law-abiding drivers get pulled over for a ticket.
Besides having to pay fines, drivers slapped with a traffic ticket also accumulate demerits on their driver’s record. In turn, it could eventually lead to a suspension of their license, higher insurance premiums, and even driver’s anxiety.
If you’re looking for ways to prevent these issues from happening to you, these tips for avoiding traffic tickets can help.
Avoiding traffic tickets can be easy if you don’t get pulled over in the first place! Maybe this scenario sounds familiar to you… You’re driving along while jamming to your favorite Justin Bieber song, and the next thing you know, there’s a squad car right behind you.
Your immediate reaction is, “uh oh! Fun time is over!” So you turn the radio down (not off, of course, because you love Justin Bieber that much), you put both hands on the wheel, you tense up, and you focus on driving straight, driving under the speed limit, and doing anything possible to not look suspicious.
Of course, by trying to do all those things, you speed, you start weaving in your lane, and you look suspicious!
While avoiding traffic tickets can be done by simply obeying the law, that doesn’t mean you won’t get pulled over. Cops will oftentimes look for a reason to pull you over. Maybe they want to see if you’re drunk. Maybe you appear to be really nervous (checking the rearview mirror frequently), or you match the description of some mass murderer. Once you’re pulled over, anything can happen. So here are some ways to avoid being pulled over in the first place.
If a cop gets behind you, just relax! It doesn’t mean you’re automatically getting pulled over and it doesn’t mean he’s looking for a reason to stop you. Heck, the officer may be heading back to the station so he can finish his shift and go home. Although, on the other hand, maybe you’re right. Maybe he’s on a special traffic enforcement division ready to write as many tickets as possible and he really IS looking for a reason to pull you over. Yeah, you should make an attempt to go the speed limit and follow the law, but don’t freak out about going a few mph over. The more you freak out, the more you’re going to screw up, the more nervous you’ll look, and the more reason the cop will have to pull you over. Chances are, if he already decided to pull you over, he’ll find something anyway. Just drive.
On the other hand, if you just escaped from maximum security prison, this would be a good time to hit the gas. Backup is certainly on the way.
Look Far Ahead
What does looking far ahead have to do with avoiding traffic tickets? Simple. When you look far ahead, you drive in a straighter line. However, it’s natural human reaction to look closer when we are nervous. When we look closer, we tend to veer back and forth in our lane more. Veering back and forth, especially if you are touching the lines, makes it look like you’ve had one too many strawberry daiquiri’s. Even if you haven’t been drinking, who likes to get pulled over? So remember, when you see the fuzz in the mirror, keep looking far ahead and drive straight. The goal here is to not appear drunk.
Pay Attention to Other Drivers
Do you want to avoid the cops? Then you’ll have to pay attention to signs that indicate they’re coming. If you see the cars ahead of you slow down, it’s probably not because they’ve decided to take a short break to enjoy a donut.
Slow down now or risk getting pulled over later.
Wear Your Seat Belt – You Big Dummy!
If you always wear your seat belt, you can skip this one. If you don’t wear your seat belt, keep reading so I can yell at you and tell you the dangers of not wearing a seat belt. Ok, fine, you’ve heard it all before. But here’s the thing, cops love pulling people over for not wearing seat belts. Many police departments even have days where they will specifically enforce seat belt laws. Yes, they look for it and yes, they will absolutely write you a ticket for it. It’s also one of the first things they check for after you’ve pulled over. They can easily see you putting it on (or not taking it off). Seat belt laws exist in almost all states now. I’m personally against these seat belt laws. If somebody doesn’t want to wear one, why do I care? But seriously, why wouldn’t you wear a seat belt? Quit being a knucklehead and just put the darn thing on!
Check Your Lights. All Of Them! (Even the light you’re not thinking about right now)
Another way to avoid getting a traffic ticket is by doing some basic checks on your vehicle from time to time. I know, you drive a super awesome car that actually lets you know via an indicator on the dash when a bulb is burned out somewhere. Pretty sweet! But what about that pesky license plate light? I can almost guarantee you if that light goes out, you’ll have no idea unless you physically check it. I was on a ride-along with a cop once and we stopped a few cars that had license plate lights burned out. The officer told me it was one of his favorite stops to make because he could see if people had been drinking and also warn them since nobody ever knows they are out. He didn’t write a ticket to anyone for that issue, but still, who likes getting pulled over? We’re trying to avoid that in the first place! Oh and as you might guess, driving with your brights on or no lights at all is one of the quickest ways to get pulled over at night. Forgetting to dim or turn on the headlights is one of the big signs they look for in drunk drivers
Keep Your Car Clean And In Good Working Order
A dirty car running on two spare tires and a duck taped back window is far more likely to be pulled over than a car that looks to be cared for. You don’t have to drive a brand new Lexus all the time, but repair that excessively loud muffler, fix that turn signal which doesn’t even blink anymore, fix that license plate that is hanging down by one single bolt, take care of that Bungie corded front bumper, etc. In other words, keep the outside of your car legal and you’ll avoid many problems later on.
Get A Radar Detector
A radar detector is certainly no guarantee that you won’t get busted (not that I have first-hand experience or anything *cough*). Many officers will keep their radar guns off until they see a vehicle that appears to be speeding. Others use lasers that are only detectable after your speed has been recorded. More often than not, though, a radar detector will give you some advanced warning. You can’t just buy some cheap little radar detector though. Something like the Valentine One or Passport 9500 is required if you want it to be useful. Radar detectors also tend to make people complacent and a bit too comfortable. The radar detector should be your last line of defense, not your first! Oh, and if you get pulled over with a radar detector within view, do you think the officer will give you a break? In some states, radar detectors are illegal. So be careful with this one! AS you can see, there are pros and cons. I definitely love my radar detector though.
Have all your documents in a folder and easily accessible, just in case you do get pulled over. This is the biggest way people screw themselves over. You must be ready for when the time comes that you get pulled over because it will happen. If you make the cop stand at the side of the road for 5 minutes while you fumble through your glove box trying to find your current insurance card, he’s not going to be happy (nor should he – I’d be pissed too). Take the 30 seconds to get your glove box and all your paperwork organized. It could save you from a ticket the next time you’re pulled over.
Make Sure All Your Documents Are Up-to-Date
If you’re someone who regularly drives their car, it’s important (and smart!) to keep all your documents i.e., registrations, license inspections, and state inspection tags up-to-date.
Cops are trained to spot expired registrations from a mile away. The moment they catch sight of you, you may get pulled over.
While it’s true that the worst thing you can get for driving with expired tags is a non-moving violation*, wouldn’t you rather you don’t get pulled over at all?
*Non-moving violations usually result in smaller fines than moving violations, and they usually do not cause demerit points to accumulate on your record.
NEVER Speed at Night (Especially after midnight)
While the appeal of “pedal to the metal” can feel incredibly strong during the wee hours of the night, I highly advise against it. True, there are fewer cars on the road, but you can bet that there are a dozen just hanging around just waiting for you to make a mistake.
Nighttime is also DWI-time, meaning all vehicles will be under close scrutiny from the cops. Give them a reason — any reason — to pull you over, and they will.
Police Officers Are People Too!
I personally know several police officers and each one of them is out there trying to do the right thing. They are awesome people, just like most cops. Yes, there are some bad cops out there, just like there are some bad teachers, firefighters, and any other profession you can dream up. Don’t let the bad apples spoil everything. Traffic enforcement is a necessary evil. If you think people drive poorly right now, imagine if there was nobody to enforce the laws! We all screw up from time to time and usually, we don’t get caught. When you do, cut the cop some slack. You’ll never win an argument on the side of the road with a police officer anyway. Just consider it an expense of driving.