We may earn money or products from the companies mentioned in this post, but this does NOT cost you anything extra! Check out my full disclosure for more info.
It’s a strange feeling, being out of law enforcement for almost two years now.
But there is one thing that seems never to change. The questions start flowing when someone discovers I used to wear the uniform.
One question seems to be at the top of the list. It might be because we are approaching the holiday season.
The most common thing people want to know, in one form or another, “How do I not get pulled over?”
Generally, I shake my head and say something along the lines of, “Don’t be stupid.”
But today, I want to share a few things that I looked for when pulling over a vehicle.
Side note if you didn’t already know. I was a sworn police officer in the state of California. That means these laws are specific to California. I’m sure you will find you have similar regulations in your area.
Don’t be stupid
Sometimes people get bent out of shape when you say things so straightforward. But I really do mean that.
The best way to not get pulled over is not to break the law. Use common sense.
I know, it’s easier said than done.
One thing many people don’t know, the California Vehicle Code is a large book. The sections range from equipment violations, doing unsafe or dangerous things, and on and on.
You might think the violations I’m listing are straightforward, but there is a reason I’m mentioning them.
Out of the cars that I’ve pulled over, most of them were avoidable.
Something funny I read many years ago:
In the United States, red, white, and blue are very patriotic.
That is until you see those lights flashing behind you. So let’s try and prevent that from happening to you.
Things not to do
We all know what not to do when driving a vehicle, but let’s be honest, people get very lazy and complacent behind the wheel.
I constantly reminded people, and that is why I’m mentioning it here, driving is a privilege and not a right.
So many people want to argue that fact, but if you read the DMV paperwork you signed when getting your license, you will see that is the case.
Or put another way, from the CA DMV.
A California driver’s license is a card which gives you permission to operate a motor vehicle.
Now, all that is out of the way, let’s get to the simple things you can do to prevent being pulled over.
At first, this was going to be a list of the top 10 ways, but once I started writing, there were more than 10.
- Don’t ever drink and drive. Not only is it stupid, but you will be paying it for years.
- Never talk or text on your cell phone (this includes holding it while it’s on speaker)
- Do not have headphones or earbuds in both ears (one is okay, but it’s illegal to have both ears covered while driving or even riding a bicycle)
- Always come to a complete stop at stop signs.
- Watch your speed and the posted speed limit (keep in mind that you can also be stopped if you are going too slow)
- Wear your seatbelt (fun fact, a driver can be cited for a passenger not wearing one. And another fun fact, that passenger can be cited as well.)
- Don’t transport people in the bed of your truck
- Lighting equipment is a big one. There are many things that you can be stopped for.
- Ensure all your lights are working (headlights, brake lights, license plate lights, etc.)
- Did you know if your car is a 1969 or newer, you even need two white backup lights?
- You also need to have a rear license plate light.
- Don’t have multicolored lights anywhere while driving on roadways
- Something nobody wants to hear, side window tint. As I said, I’m based in CA, but any window tint here is illegal. In Nevada, for example, that is not the case.
Some extras for you
- Most cars need to have two license plates (one in the front and one in the rear)
- Plates also need to be permanently attached and visible
- If it’s raining or inclement weather, remember to always turn your headlights on. NOT your high beams!
- Lastly, I will share the one violation that drives me crazy (pun intended)—flicking a lit cigarette out of your window (or any burning substance for that matter).
Things to keep in mind
As I’m writing this, my head is full of more suggestions and ideas to share. I am doing my best to keep this based on things you can do to avoid getting pulled over, but I still feel there are some things I need to share.
Or better yet, remind you.
Be respectful and obey commands.
If you take away one thing from this post, that is always to be respectful.
Depending on the violation, there are a few outcomes, and it’s not always a ticket. One way to possibly tip this into your favor is to, again, be respectful.
If you have tinted windows, roll them down, which allows the officer to see who and what is in your vehicle.
Unless instructed otherwise, STAY IN YOUR VEHICLE!
I cannot tell you how many times people jump out of their cars as the officer is approaching. That is an excellent way to end up on the ground or worse.
Yield to ALL emergency lights
You are required to yield to the right side of the road when you see the emergency lights behind you.
Just because a police car is behind you, with lights and siren blaring, doesn’t mean it’s for you.
They are often going to a priority call, and the sooner you pull over, the better for everyone.
Additionally, the officer knows their jurisdictions (the areas they patrol). Meaning they might be following you for some time before pulling you over. A lot is going on when you initiate a traffic stop.
A few of those, including
- Time of day
- Location of the stop
- Is it safe for the driver and officer
- Do you have any warrants for your arrest?
- Are there any priority calls
The short of it is that officers want to make sure you don’t pull over in a dangerous place for you or them.
Everyone has questions
And I mean everyone. Just for some comic relief, check out one of the best Chris Rock videos I’ve seen.
The video is just under four minutes long.
Traffic Stops – An inside look
Since these are questions, I’ve gotten for as long as I can remember. I just wanted to take a minute and explain what I used to do.
Just remember, everyone is different, and what worked for me might not necessarily work for them.
First of all, I would NEVER ask the driver, “Do you know why I pulled you over?” I have always thought that was lame.
Something I found helpful was always to explain the reason for the stop and ask if there was any reason why they (the driver) did what they did.
There is a large number of the population that have never been pulled over before. Once the patriotic lights are flashing behind them, everyone has some nervousness and anxiety.
After hearing what they said (there are a few reasons for this, but that could be another post altogether). I would then tell them to stay in their vehicle and that I would return shortly.
By now, the officer has all the info from the driver, vehicle, and so on.
There are generally three outcomes when you get pulled over.
An arrest is pretty self-explanatory. If I issued a warning, I would explain why.
If I gave a ticket, I would describe it to the driver.
- I would explain the sections of the ticket (we hand wrote ours)
- Underline the phone number at the bottom (which was to the court)
- Explain the next steps and what to expect (depends on the ticket issued)
- Ask the driver if they had any questions
- And last, have the driver sign the ticket
Overall, this helped both parties out, didn’t take much time, and something I never understood started to happen.
People would thank me. Yeah, I’m being honest, and it tripped me out too.
Have you been pulled over?
First off, I want to hear your stories. Leave a comment below or send me an email.
There are some excellent ones out there. Such as, I have met a few people who later informed me that I stopped them.
It was always interesting to see what their take was on the situation. I’m pleased to say all went well (including a few that I arrested).
For anyone in law enforcement, and especially for the new officers out there. First off, thanks for reading this post, and thanks for your service.
Second, I highly suggest you keep a notebook of all the funny calls you had. You can thank me later. I wish I had done this because I could have written a book by now.
And for everyone else, if you’ve been pulled over, what was it for? How did it go?
And did you thank the officer for treating you like a human being?
Let me know in the comments below!
And to end on a positive note, yes, we do go to donut shops.
For me, it was not very often, but I had to get at least one picture of it.
I knew one day it would come in handy.