Probable Cause and Talking to the Police

Drivers are under an insane amount of pressure when they are on the road, which may come as a bit of a surprise. You may be thinking your 10 minute ride to work, or your 4-block drive to the grocery store is nonchalant, but when you realize that a police officer can pull you over at any minute and you can end up losing your license, that all may change.

In order for a cop to make a traffic stop, he needs to have probable cause. Probable cause can be obtained by witnessing the driver violate a section of the California Vehicle Code, an obvious reason for a traffic stop. However, probable cause can be in play simply by the fact that you are in your car and there is something fundamentally wrong with your vehicle, which gives the police the right to pull you over at any time. These stops can lead to more serious charges if the officer finds something in the course of pulling you over that further incriminates you.

Some of the reasons a cop may have automatic probable cause to pull your vehicle off the road include driving with:

  1. Expired registration tags;
  2. A broken windshield, which makes it likely the driver’s vision is obstructed;
  3. A “donut” spare tire (if on the freeway);
  4. Dice hanging from the mirror;
  5. A trailer hitch blocking the license plate;
  6. No front license plate;
  7. A broken driver side mirror;
  8. An unregistered trailer or boat on tow;
  9. A passenger hanging out of the window;
  10. Loose bolts or chains hanging from the trailer hitch;
  11. Tinted front windows;
  12. A broken headlight or tail light; or
  13. A broken license plate light

Avoiding these easy-to-oversee hazards can limit your time in contact with the police, which is generally a something people dread.

In light of this information, the one thing defense attorneys preach repeatedly to their clients, which is applicable in almost any criminal case is: DO NOT TALK TO THE COPS. You may wind up admitting to something you did not mean to admit, revealing information you did not mean to reveal, or hiding information you did not realize you were hiding. Little good can come from addressing the police without an attorney present. If pulled over, simply say inform the cop that your attorney recommended you not speak without her present!

If you or someone you know is facing criminal charges, or their professional license is at risk, contact Attorney Miranda McCroskey for an immediate consultation at (833) 865-6253 or email her at

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