12 Mistakes That Can Get You Pulled Over By The Police

Getting pulled over by the police can be a nerve-wracking experience, often caused by simple, avoidable mistakes. From speeding slightly over the limit to forgetting to signal when changing lanes, these common errors can easily catch the attention of law enforcement.

Understanding these mistakes and how to avoid them can help keep your driving record clean and your trips less stressful. Based on the detailed analysis report of the Federal Highway Administration about Traffic Laws and regulations, we’ve compiled a list of some common mistakes people make while driving.


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One of the primary reasons people are stopped by the police is for speeding. According to the National Safety Council’s Injury Facts, speeding played a significant role in 29% of all traffic deaths in the U.S. in 2022, leading to 12,151 fatalities. Driving even a few miles per hour over the speed limit increases the risk of accidents because it reduces the time you have to react to hazards. Police often set up speed traps in areas known for frequent speeding to catch violators. Staying within speed limits keeps you safer and helps you avoid costly tickets.

Running Red Lights

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Running a red light frequently leads to accidents and is a common reason for getting pulled over by the police. Each year, more than 1000 American lives are lost due to running red light crashes as per the Federal Highway Administration reports. It is a common mistake that often leads to severe consequences, such as collisions with other vehicles or pedestrians. Red light cameras are used in many cities to catch offenders, leading to fines and points on your driving record.

Illegal Turns

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Illegal turns are a common mistake that can get you pulled over by the police. These include making a turn at an intersection where turning is not allowed or turning without adequately signaling. In many cities, you can be fined up to $300 for making an illegal U-Turn, depending on the local laws. Avoiding illegal turns by paying attention to road signs and signals can help you stay safe and avoid tickets.

Distracted Driving

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Distracted driving is hazardous and a leading cause of traffic stops and accidents. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), more than 3,000 lives were lost in the US in 2022 due to distracted driving. Frequent distractions behind the wheel involve sending texts, making phone calls, grabbing a bite, or using the radio. Even a momentary distraction can lead to dangerous situations, such as drifting into another lane or not noticing a stop sign.

Not Using Turn Signals

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Not using turn signals is a common mistake that can lead to getting pulled over by the police. This mistake causes about 2 million accidents a year in the U.S., more than double the number of accidents caused by distracted driving. Using turn signals is crucial because it helps other drivers know your intentions, reducing the risk of collisions and ensuring smoother traffic flow.


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One mistake that often leads to accidents is tailgating, where a driver follows another car too closely, increasing the risk of a collision. Nearly 29% of all car crash accidents occur in the US due to rear-end collisions while tailgating. A significant number of these collisions happen because drivers fail to keep a safe distance between their car and the one ahead. Keeping a three-second safe distance rule can reduce the risk of getting pulled over and prevent accidents.

Broken Lights

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Driving with broken lights, such as a burnt-out headlight, taillight, or brake light, is a common reason for being pulled over by the police. Most vehicles pulled over for equipment violations by the state police have faulty lights. This issue not only reduces your visibility on the road but also makes it harder for other drivers to see you, increasing the risk of accidents. It’s an easy fix that can save you from getting a ticket or, worse, being involved in an accident.

Expired Registration

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Driving with an expired registration is a common mistake that can get you pulled over by the police. Depending on the state, this can lead to fines ranging from $25 to over $200. In some cases, it might also result in your vehicle being towed or impounded. Keeping your registration up to date avoids these penalties and ensures your vehicle remains legally compliant on the road.

Obstructed License Plates

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Obstructed license plates are a common reason for getting pulled over by the police. This includes dirty, damaged, or covered plates in a way that makes them hard to read. Police officers need to see your license plate clearly to verify registration and check for any outstanding issues. Keeping your plates clean and unobstructed can help avoid unnecessary traffic stops and fines.

Not Wearing Seatbelts

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Seatbelt violations frequently lead to police stops. A report by the NHTSA states that 50% of passenger vehicle occupants killed in road accidents in 2022, were not wearing seatbelts. Despite the clear safety benefits, many still neglect this simple precaution. Police prioritize seatbelt enforcement to help reduce road fatalities and injuries. Wearing a seatbelt can protect lives and reduce the risk of severe injuries.

Improper Lane Changes

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Changing lanes without proper signals or checking mirrors often leads to traffic stops and can result in accidents. This includes changing lanes without signaling, cutting off other drivers, or not checking mirrors and blind spots. These mistakes can lead to collisions or near-misses, which police take seriously to prevent accidents and keep roads safe. Staying alert and following lane-changing rules can help avoid tickets and ensure safer driving for everyone.

Driving Under The Influence (DUI)

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Operating a vehicle while impaired by alcohol or drugs is a dangerous and serious violation that can lead to severe consequences. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), in 2022, around 13,524 people died in alcohol-impaired driving crashes in the country. DUI puts the lives of both the driver and others on the road at risk. Police are vigilant about spotting and stopping impaired drivers to prevent these tragic outcomes.

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