Getting pulled over by the police isn’t completely unavoidable. However, a police officer can’t just pull you over on a whim. They need to have a reasonable reason—known as probable cause— to stop your car.
Regardless of whether you’re engaged in an illegal activity, there are certain behaviors that can make you appear more or less suspicious to the police. Here are a few tips to keep in mind when you’re behind the wheel:
- Keep your car in good condition. If your car has any obvious equipment violation, this could be reason for a police officer to stop you. You might be driving without a front license plate or with expired license plate tags. Maybe your headlight is out or you have a broken windshield. Loud mufflers also attract a lot of attention. Even window tinting—if it’s too dark—can be a red flag.
- Follow traffic laws. Even a minor infraction, such as failing to signal a turn or driving dangerously close behind another car, can be an easy excuse for a police officer to stop you. Don’t squeal your tires or do anything to unnecessarily draw attention to yourself.
- Consider time and place. If you’re in an odd location at an unusual time of day, it could make a police officer wonder what you’re up to. Don’t loiter in an empty supermarket parking lot in the middle of the night. Even sleeping in your car in an unexpected place can be suspicious. If an officer finds you pulled over at the side of the road, asleep in your back seat, they have the right to check whether you need medical assistance—which invites further investigation.
Getting pulled over can range from a nuisance to a total life upset. If you want to avoid unnecessary intrusion on your life by the police, you want to avoid getting noticed. Don’t give a police officer any reason to look at you with suspicion.