Happy Thanksgiving, and Make Sure Your Tail Lights Are Working Tonight by DWI Defense Lawyer Mark Stevens 603-893-0074

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

It is best to make sure tonight and throughout this holiday weekend that you are vigilant about making sure your license, registration and inspection stickers are up to date. You should also make sure that all the lighting is working on your vehicles before you drive tonight. Burned out plate lights are a magnet for the police on a holiday weekend. This is not because they have taken a sudden interest in plate lights; it is because it gives them a reason to stop you and see if you have been drinking.

Your chances of having an unwanted encounter with the police this weekend are high enough already. That is because the government has issued massive money for roadblocks and saturation patrols. Some points that might be helpful to bear in mind if you drive at night over this weekend are:

1. Make Sure Your Inspection Stickers and Registrations Are Valid. An important reminder if you are driving this weekend is to make sure that your car has a valid inspection sticker, as well as a valid registration. When you drive into a roadblock, or even drive by the police this weekend without a valid inspection sticker you can count on being stopped and hassled. Like all the motor vehicle code, the police often co-opt this to see if you have been drinking or have drugs in your car. The penalty for a violation of this section of the motor vehicle code is $60, but the real penalty is when the police smell alcohol or suspect that you have been drinking after stopping you for the lack of an inspection sticker. Many drivers who are initially stopped for this minor violation end up charged with DWI, DUI or OUI. AVOID one potential for this by making sure your inspection stickers are up to date.

2. Make Sure Your Plate Lights and Other Lights Work. Everyone driving at night should check their brake lights, plate lights, and other lighting, as well as their inspection stickers and license plates, to avoid some unwanted interaction with police. The cheesiest of motor vehicle stops begin with a passive equipment violation such as those I've just mentioned. In these types of stops, the driver is not exhibiting any signs of impairment. The driver may be obeying the speed limit, maintaining appropriate lane control, and otherwise following every rule of the road, but he finds himself in the flashing blue glow of police lighting wondering why he was stopped.

Avoid giving the police some of these chances to legally stop you by making sure that all your lights are functioning, your registration and inspection stickers are up to date, and your license is valid.

PREPARATION FOR THIS WORST CASE SCENARIO. It is not a bad idea to prepare for this event. Have your license and registration in an easy place to find and an easy place to quickly and effortlessly produce upon demand. Don't put your license in a difficult spot to pull it out quickly when you need to. Practice taking your license out of your wallet in the safety of your home. CONSIDER GETTING A REGISTRATION HOLDER TO KEEP YOUR VEHICLE REGISTRATION IN. If you do not have one send me an email with your mailing address and I will send you a registration holder for every one of your vehicles free of charge. Then practice producing your license and registration fairly frequently. It will make it easier to do if you ever have to produce them under a pressurized roadside situation.

Have a safe weekend and a Happy Thanksgiving,

Mark Stevens



  1. Great post. It is amazing to me how hyper-technical reasons for a vehicle stop lead to a DUI. For example, an eagle eyed officer at pitch black conditions can see from an appreciable distance way that the vehicle's registration sticker is expired. Amazing.

    -Justin J. McShane, Esquire, Pennsylvania DUI Attorney

  2. Hey Justin,
    Thank you for your kind words. Also, I appreciate you posting on your blog about DWI roadblocks in PA. They are becoming a way of life here too, despite the fact that they are a horribly ineffective way of detecting drunks. Federally funded "change we can believe in". Here's to 2010 and some "change we can live like Americans again in".

  3. Thanks for the driving tips!