5.28.2010

Avoiding Unwanted Contacts With the Cops this Holiday Weekend

During this upcoming holiday weekend, your chances of being stopped and hassled are higher than ever due to roadblocks and aggressive seat belt law enforcement that will be taking place. This is because of the government issuing large amounts of money to stop cars to see if any one might be drunk. The problem with these roadblocks is that they don't detect many drunk drivers. Typically, the police have to stop about 100 cars, hoping to find at least one person who they even SUSPECT of a DWI. What they end up citing though are lots of other motor vehicle arrests, or people with warrants, just so they can report "SIX ARRESTED AT DWI CHECKPOINT," etc. If you peel back the onion you will find that only one or two were DWI arrests, and the rest were an array of irrelevant, sundry motor vehicle code offenses or benign inspection violations. If you plan on driving over the weekend, bear in mind the following tips:

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. The police will take any chance they can get to pull you over for any reason! Like all other motor vehicle codes, 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 most unoriginal 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. In fact, the driver may be following all rules of the road - obeying the speed limit, maintaining appropriate lane control, steady driving - but he finds himself in the flashing blue glow of police lighting wondering why he was stopped.

This high number of stops for equipment violations in recent years is not because the police have taken a sudden interest in the functioning of plate lights, or their concern for whether drivers are using turn signals late at night when there is no one else on the road to signal. Rather, the police have a broader goal: the police have co-opted the motor vehicle code to fight the war on drugs, and many DWI arrests ensue after these stops when the police can't find any drugs after the stop.

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 e-mail 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,

Mark Stevens

Visit: ByeByeDwi.com

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