How Not to Get Pulled Over by Police for Minor Infractions (or at least know the law when you do)

Submitted by New Jersey Traffic Lawyer, Jeffrey Hark.

This blog doesn’t address a specific case or complex legal issues. Recently I was reading a case in which a defendant was pulled over mostly due to an air freshener obstructing his windshield (at least that was the reason written in the police report). That case will be blogged about later, but it gave me the idea of writing a purely informational blog concerning the regulations around some of the most common minor infractions that cause people to be pulled over.

Tinted Windows

Reality: If your windows are dark a police officer can pull you over. This is true even if you have out-of-state plates and the tint of your windows is lawful in your state. The moment you drive into New Jersey you may be scrutinized. See State v. Cohen, 347 N.J. Super. 375, 377-78 (App. Div. 2002). Of course all the other law surrounding a Terry stop still applies.

  1. Windshield: No tint is allowed
  2. Front Side windows: No tint
  3. Back Side windows: Any darkness permitted
  4. Rear Window: Any darkness permitted

Lights

Every motor vehicle other than a motorcycle or motor-drawn vehicle must have:

  1. 2 headlamps minimum
  2. Equal number of headlamps on each side
  3. 2 turn signals (one on each side)
  4. 2 turn signals with two rear tail lamps
  5. two rear tail lamps
  6. two or more stop lamps
  7. two rear reflectors on each side
  8. adequate license plate illumination
  9. one or more lamps capable of providing parking light
  10. *Rear turn signals not required on a tractor trailer equipped with visible double-sides signals (the type that stick out) up front
  11. *Antique cars made before July, 1954 have exceptions (see statute)

See N.J. Stat. Ann. § 39:3-61

Obstructions in Window

Reality: It’s best not to have an obstruction in your window or windshield (including unnecessary stickers and air freshener devices).

Sometimes a police officer may conduct a traffic stop because of an obstruction in your windshield such as an air freshener. One argument to respectfully make is that the “obstruction” is the same size or smaller than a handicapped placard which is permitted by law. HOWEVER IT SHOULD BE REMEMBERED THAT HANDICAPPED PLACARDS ARE CONSIDERED AN EXCEPTION TO THE NO OBSTRUCTION RULE. Just for your reference, below the rule we have displayed the standard size of a handicapped placard.

No person shall drive any motor vehicle with any sign, poster, sticker or other non-transparent material upon the front windshield, wings, deflectors, side shields, corner lights adjoining windshield or front side windows of such vehicle other than a certificate or other article required to be so displayed by statute or by regulations of the commissioner.

See N.J. Stat. Ann. § 39:3-74

23 C.F.R. Pt. 1235, App. A

APPENDIX A TO PART 1235–SAMPLE REMOVABLE WINDSHIELD PLACARD

Currentness

handicap seal

See 23 C.F.R. § Pt. 1235, App. A

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