Top 10 ways to get a traffic ticket


1. Speed– more often than not, motorists get tickets for speeding. Why? Well- it’s one of the easiest things to prove in court in case you plan to fight your ticket. The radar gun used by the officer, if calibrated and certified in regular intervals- is a hard piece of evidence to beat. In addition, since there is a budget crunch everywhere, you can bet that that officer will show up in court if you plan on fighting it.

The best thing to do (although it may be hard) is to not speed in the first place! Remember to follow the basic speed law (more on that later) and go with the flow of traffic. Do not make aggressive driving maneuvers and do not accelerate above the speed limit when merging on a highway or an expressway.

2. Driving too fast for certain conditions- It’s foggy and you can barely see 100 feet in front of you. The speed limit is 25 and you’re on a road with curves. How fast should you go? 25 mph, right? WRONG! Under these conditions, you need to follow the basic speed law, which states: “no person shall drive a vehicle greater than is reasonable and prudent under the conditions and having regard to the actual and potential hazards then existing.”

So, when it’s foggy, raining, snowing, a dust storm, flooding, icy or any other road hazard that might prevent you from stopping, swerving or slowing in a short enough distance, you need to slow down no matter what the speed limit might be.

3. Tailgating– There is nothing more annoying than having a car in front of you that goes below the speed limit, or right at the speed limit- especially when you are in a hurry and have to be somewhere. When passing is not an option, most drivers will drive up right behind the bumper of that slow driver to give him the message that he is going too slow for their liking.

Sometimes the result is that the driver being tailgated will speed up or get out of the way as soon as he has the chance but more often than not, the driver will not. With the decreased following distance, the tailgating driver now has a better chance of colliding with the driver in front of him in case of sudden braking.

Tailgating is an aggressive driving habit and is known to incite road rage. You never really know who is in the car in front of you or where they are heading. Sometimes they might be going to the same place you are. Chances are, they’ll remember you and your car. How awkward would that be?

4. Disregarding traffic control devices– Run a red light, get a ticket. Roll through a stop sign, get a ticket! There’s really not a whole lot you can do to defend yourself in court against these types of violations, unless there was an obstruction or some confusion regarding the traffic control device.

In most cases, drivers are in just too much of a hurry or are distracted by kids in the car, their cell phone, gps or something else to notice that they just blew through an intersection.

The bottom line- Traffic lights, signs, etc. are in place to keep the roadways neat and orderly. Disregard them and you will receive a ticket or worse, collide with another vehicle or pedestrian.

As a side note, red light cameras do not usually add points to your driving record. These violations are commonly categorized as civil violations, meaning that a fine is levied but no criminal proceedings or actions, such as adding point to your record. With this said, do not ignore these violations! Fines, surcharges and penalties will add up and will not go away.

5. Drawing attention to yourself- Doing a sweet burnout or driving a fast car will get you all sorts of attention from the fairer sex…and the cops. Remember on the nature channel how the lion watches the herd of antelope? The ones that stand out are the first to get eaten. In our scenario, the police are just like the lions…watching the pack…waiting.. No matter how safe you drive, cops notice bright yellow cars, red cars and those that are different than the others on the road. The loud exhaust, thumpin’ subwoofer and the gigantic wing attached to the back of your car probably make your car a lot more awesome, but it draws unwanted attention to you by the police.

If you’ve already bought and modified the vehicle or are thinking about doing so, fine- just watch your driving habits closely and know that when you see a cop on the road, know that he or she has seen you already and has been watching you. For the rest of us, just try to blend in!

6. Unbuckled passengers- do you let your kids hang out the windows of your car or jump around in the backseat as you drive? If it looks like there’s a party in the back of your car, the police will notice and pull you over.

Safety belts are primary safety devices, while airbags and secondary devices and are there as backup in case of a crash. Seatbelts can save your life and keep you or your passengers from going through the windshield in case of a crash. You never know when you might be involved in a collision. Make sure everyone in your vehicle buckles up.


7. Intoxication or symptoms of intoxication– Officers look for signs of intoxication at all times during the day, not just at night or the early morning after the bars close. Weaving, going too slow, going too fast, disregarding traffic signals (see #4) and driving with your window open on a cold night are just a few things that the police look for when looking for drink or impaired drivers.

Don’t give the police a reason to pull you over. If they suspect you have had anything to drink (even if you haven’t) they can still order you to complete a field sobriety test and make your life miserable. If you have had something to drink, get someone else to drive you home or get a cab. The consequences are just too great to take a chance.

If you talk or text on your cell phone when driving, put it down or use a headset and pay attention to the road. When you are paying too much attention to your cell phone, you may weave or miss traffic signs, both signs of an intoxicated driver.

Driving fact: if you don’t get enough sleep, your actions on the road may mimic those of an intoxicated driver. Try to drive no more than 5 hours at a time and switch drivers or take a break so you are rested and alert.

8. Mechanical defects– One of the easiest ways for a police office to justify pulling you over is a faulty tail light, head light or a cracked windshield. Once the officer has a reason to pull you over, they can look for other things to write you a ticket for. They’ll look at you and see if you have bloodshot eyes (a symptom of drinking) , be able to smell alcohol on you (don’t drink and drive), look to see if you and your passengers are wearing a seatbelt or have an open container of alcohol in the passenger compartment. If they suspect drug use (weed) they can order everyone out of the vehicle and search your vehicle for drugs.

So, check your lights, fix your windshield, don’t drive without a hood on your car..etc. These are all items that contribute to your safety.

9. Registration expiration- simply enough- pay your registration on time and don’t give the police a reason to pull you over. (see #8).

10. Being a jerk- cutting people off, demanding the right of way, giving them the finger, etc. are all examples of being a jerk. Treat others as you wish to be treated. Let others pass, merge and have the right of way. When you’re a jerk to another jerk, there’s always the chance for road rage.

The author has been a defensive driving course instructor for over 6 years and has over 10 years of experience in the defensive driving industry. Mike is the author and instructor for many online defensive driving schools nationwide including New Jersey Defensive Driving, Texas Defensive Driving and Texas Driver Safety courses.