15 Things That Practically Force a Cop to Pull You Over

If there’s one thing drivers dread, it’s getting pulled over by a cop. Even when you didn’t do anything serious and know your rights, these interactions can be nerve-wracking. After all, getting an expensive ticket can ruin your night and make you look bad in front of your friends or significant other. In some cases, encounters have actually turned deadly.

Before you start worrying too much about police on the road, remember how much you control the situation. Just as there are certain things you should never say to a cop who pulled you over, there are ways you can avoid the situation in the first place. Here are 15 things that practically force a cop to pull you over on the road.

15. Driving with your lights off

2016 Corvette Stingray Headlight

Thanks to modern daytime running lights, this isn’t much of a problem anymore. | Chevrolet

With the introduction of automatic headlights, we’d say this one happened more often in the past. People expect their car to turn its lights on automatically. However, when someone else gets in your car and changes the settings back to manual, you’re in trouble. You’ll find flashing their lights at you in hopes you’ll get the message. If you don’t get that warning and a cop sees you first, chances are you’ll get pulled over.

Next: Driving a loud car isn’t only annoying; it will also get you pulled over.

14. A roaring exhaust

The Subaru WRX STI can attract the wrong kind of attention.| Subaru

When they rounded up the list of America’s most ticketed cars a few years back, Subaru WRX ranked first. Two things identify this car, especially in the STI trim: speed and a loud exhaust. Roaring past a cop with a modified WRX will often end with you pulling over after you see flashing lights in your rearview mirror. In New Jersey, a cop can cite you for “excessive noise,” which gives officers a lot of leeway.

Next: Most cops know an illegal modification when they see one. 

13. Illegal window tints

2018 Land Rover range Rover

Make sure your windows comply with local tint regulations. | Land Rover

Among illegal car modifications, window tints might be the most obvious target for a cop patrolling the area. The overwhelming majority of states ban or limit the amount of tinting someone can put on a window. Cops don’t have to make judgment calls, either. Many carry devices that measure the level of tint on a window and ticket drivers based on the findings.

Next: This way of driving even got a driverless car pulled over in 2015.

12. Driving too slowly

Don’t think that driving under the speed limit will help you avoid a ticket. | Mario Villafuerte/Getty Images

Given the choice between pulling over a car going 95 miles per hour and another going 40, cops will probably stop the speeder first. However, slow drivers present their own type of danger. First, they get people agitated and force them to try and pass. (California cops pulled over a driverless car in 2015 for this reason.) But slow cars mostly appear suspicious because drunk or stoned drivers often proceed carefully to avoid accidents.

Next: Getting caught doing this illegal maneuver will grab any cop’s attention.

11. Illegal U-turns

St. Louis, highway overpass

Miss that exit? Take the next one instead of doing something stupid. | kevinmwalsh/iStock/Getty Images

Cops often have to make judgment calls when patrolling a beat. Drivers who don’t use their turn signals (something many cops don’t do, either) tend to get away with this minor offense. On the other hand, someone executing a sudden, illegal u-turn would grab most police officers’ attention. It’s practically forcing them to pull you over and ask about the hurry.

Next: This modification suggests you’re hiding something from the cops. 

10. Blocking your license plate

Rugift.com's electric license plate cover

This automatic license plate cover will obscure front and back plates simultaneously. | Rugift

Unless you plan on robbing a bank or engaging in some other illegal activity, you won’t have much reason to use a license plate blocker. However, companies sell this banned modification and drivers sometimes install one on their car. If you get caught, there is a very high chance you’ll get pulled over. In some states, the fine for this violation exceeds $1,100.

Next: This form of reckless driving generally prompts a response.

9. Cutting off another driver

Cutting people off won’t get you to your destination any faster. | Philippe Huguen/AFP/Getty Images

Dangerous lane changes lead to road rage in many cases and cause a fair share of accidents, too. When cops see someone pull this move, they act quickly to pull over the driver. Ranking right below an intentional cut-off would be a lane change when the driver obliviously moves over without noticing the other cars. Cops see this happen often with senior drivers.

Next: You’re begging to get pulled over and spend a night in jail with this move.

8. Walking out of a bar and into your car

WASHINGTON, DC - AUGUST 14: Washington Metropolitan Police conduct a sobriety check point associated with a news conference on drunk driving, on August 14, 2012 in Washington, DC. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) held a news conference to discuss the national anti-drunk driving campaign and law enforcement crackdown.

Big drinking holidays and entertainment districts attract cops looking for drinkers. | Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Let’s say a cop is working a downtown area on a nightly beat. While sitting in a squad car, the cop sees a young man leave a bar with friends before sharing a loud, drunken goodbye with them. Immediately afterward, the young man hops into his car and drives away. By trying this move, he’s begging for the cop to pull him over at the first sign of a violation. If he consumed more than the legal limit, the penalties for a DUI offense can be harsh.

Next: You don’t win any fans in law enforcement by blocking the box.

7. Blocking the box

Don't ever block an intersection. | Volvo

Don’t ever block an intersection. | Volvo

No one likes traffic, and people who create traffic jams make themselves a target for road rage and other unpleasant interactions with fellow drivers. That’s exactly what happens when someone “blocks the box” at an intersection. Drivers who do it say to everyone that they don’t care what happens, they won’t wait at stoplights like every other decent person. If there’s a cop nearby, chances are these box blockers will get pulled over.

Next: If your car is falling apart, you’re asking cops to you over.

6. Damage on your car

A broken tail light lens is asking for a visit from a traffic cop. | Micah Wright/Autos Cheat Sheet

Any type of damage will encourage cops to pull you over and cite you, and safety concerns motivate the officers who do. For example, someone with a broken taillight or brake light presents a danger to drivers behind them. More extreme cases, such as a bumper falling off, increase the chances a car part will land on the road and cause an accident. It’s a recipe for a traffic stop.

Next: People hate drivers who do this, and cops will make an example of anyone who does.

5. Tailgating

You aren’t going to get anywhere faster by tailgating. |  iStock

If you took a poll and asked people what they hate the most about other drivers, many would mention tailgating. Following a car too closely causes stress for people and aggravates any driver who is a victim of it. From a cop’s perspective, it’s a major safety hazard. When someone stops suddenly with another driver right behind them, accidents usually happen.

Next: Using your smartphone is begging for a ticket.

4. Texting or otherwise using a smartphone

A graffiti image of a skull holding a cell phone is painted on an underpass along the Pasadena Freeway

A graffiti image of a skull holding a cell phone is painted on an underpass along the Pasadena Freeway. | David McNew/Getty Images

People are glued to smartphones more than ever, and unfortunately, this behavior continues while they drive. One Santa Monica traffic cop told Edmunds that people texting and otherwise using smartphones cause accidents every day there. As a result, cops are always on the lookout for people staring down at their lap, and they’ll pull over anyone caught using a phone.

Next: Tossing anything out your window makes cops turn on the red and blue lights.

3. Littering


It’s amazing that people are still littering. |  Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

You might say littering is a double-edged sword. On the one side, you have the general offense of throwing garbage onto a public road rather than placing it inside a receptacle like a normal person. The other side is even worse: Littering creates hazards on the road that cause accidents. Cops will be quick to turn on the lights and pull you over if you toss your trash out the window.

Next: This type of driving suggests you’re drunk or otherwise incapacitated.

2. Swerving

Car accident at night

At best, swerving will attract police attention. At worst? A bad crash.| JEAN-CHRISTOPHE MAGNENET/AFP/Getty Images

How do you spot a drunk driver? According to lawyers writing for the Ohio Bar Association, cops look for various activities on the road. Among them are motorists moving back and forth between lanes and swerving to the left of the yellow lines. People with high levels of alcohol in their system drive this way, and cops act swiftly to stop them from doing harm.

Next: Here’s the most effective way to get a cop to pull you over on the road.

1. Speeding

Speed limit signs in Texas | Rick Scibelli/Getty Images

Looking at the stats for crash deaths in America, you can see how speed kills. Just under 30% of road fatalities were speed-related in 2015, and about half of those came on highways with speed limits over 55. Considering the risks to pedestrians, other motorists, and the speeders themselves, cops will move fast to get high-flying cars off the road. It’s begging for a ticket and a conversation with someone wearing blue.

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