Criminal Justice Degrees Guide

9 Surprising Reasons a Police Officer Might Pull You Over

You’re in the home stretch — just blocks from your apartment after a long day’s work. You’re ready for some cold pizza and a nice, quiet evening of blowing up stuff in Call of Duty. And then, you see them. Flashing red and blue lights, meant just for you. You check your speedometer. Nothing there. You glance at your tags. Nothing’s out of date. Before you start to sweat, make sure you know these nine surprising reasons that you might be getting pulled over. And, please. Just the facts, ma’am.

  1. Your Door Is Open Too Long

    Oregon is quite literally not a fan of the open-door policy. According to section 811.490(b) of Oregon’s state traffic laws, it is a Class D traffic violation to leave a car door open "for a period of time longer than necessary to load or unload passengers." What about groceries? What about when you’re cleaning out your car at the gas station? If this law were taken to its logical conclusions, every single Oregonian with a car would at some point be a law-breaker.

  2. You Accidentally Screeched Your Tires

    If you’re trying to avoid some roadkill in Derby, Kan., be sure you don’t get too swerve happy. If your tires screech, you can be pulled over and ticketed. Local officials claim that the law is in place to minimize occurrences of drag racing, but if you catch a cop on a bad day, you might be the lucky motorist to take home a ticket for (literally) burning rubber. Better try and keep quiet on the mean streets of Derby — the fine can be up to $500 or 30 days in jail.

  3. You’re Singing A Rap Song With Your Windows Down

    In Rockville, Maryland, Section 13-53(a) of their municipal ordinance states that, "[a] person may not profanely curse and swear or use obscene language upon or near any street, sidewalk or highway within the hearing of persons passing by, upon or along such street, sidewalk or highway." If you’re going to cuss, make sure you do it with the windows rolled up, which won’t be a problem if you’re Michael Bolton.

  4. It’s Dark, It’s Late, And You’re Alone

    You’re driving home alone in the middle of the night. It’s dead silent. The streets are deserted. The light is red. You can practically hear the theme from The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly as a tumbleweed crosses your path. Four hours later, and the light’s still red. No one’s coming. No one’s around. You’re all alone, in an asphalt wilderness. The dark road ahead beckons you. It’s completely safe to go. You’re missing Cougar Town. You’re worried you forgot to DVR Colbert. So, you go for it … and then, of course, you see blinding lights and hear a deafening siren behind you. This is your nightmare.

  5. You’re Driving Near A Bar

    Several states have passed laws allowing "sobriety checkpoints" along roads with a high instance of alcohol-related accidents, as well as "no refusal" weekends in entire urban areas. In these cases, police officers in cities like Austin and Houston, Texas may stop your vehicle without probable cause. Your only crime? Driving on roads on which drunk idiots have also driven. Although these checkpoints are presumably set to encourage motoring safety, their constitutionality is constantly being challenged in the courts — and it’s hard to argue that they’re not eerily reminiscent of Checkpoint Charlie.

  1. You’re Doing A Real-Life Oregon Trail in Wisconsin

    If you’re camping in your wagon while trekking the deadly and perilous Oregon Trail, don’t do it on a highway in Wisconsin. According to Section 86.025 of Wisconsin traffic law, it is "unlawful for any person or persons to camp in wagons [. . .] on the public highways." With a possible fine of 10 whole dollars and a month in jail, you’re better off fording the river and setting up camp in a different state. Word to the wise: the Oregon Trail does not go through Wisconsin.

  2. You Parked In Front of Dunkin Donuts on Main Street West in South Berwick, Maine

    You can burn off a few calories while you’re getting your donut holes and the shop’s infamous cup of coffee, as it is illegal in the township of South Berwick, Maine, to park within 25 feet southward of the Main Street Dunkin Donuts. Don’t be too surprised if you get pulled over for this offense — it’s common knowledge, people: Donuts + Vicinity = Cops.

  3. You’re Having Sex In The Front Seat of Your Taxi During Your Shift

    Although you might get tapped for public indecency if you’re off the clock, it is straight up illegal for Massachusetts cab drivers to have a nooner in the front of their cabs if they’re on the clock. Instead of wondering precisely how or why this law got on the books, maybe just avoid the front seat of Massachusetts cabs.

  4. You’re A Child, And You’re Driving A Big Wheels Tonka Truck

    If you live in Ohio, are under the age of 10, and/or if you can (awkwardly) fit in a Power Wheels car, you’re hosed. In Canton, Ohio, it’s against municipal ordinance to "go upon any roadway" if you’re on "roller skates or riding in or by means of any coaster, toy vehicle, skateboard or similar device."