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If you pride yourself on being a responsible driver, you might still be breaking certain traffic laws without even realizing it. Even when you’re unknowingly driving illegally, you could still face citations and other serious consequences if you’re stopped by the police. Here are four common ways people get caught unwittingly breaking the law when they drive.
It’s not always easy to know when a headlight or taillight is broken or burnt out, but having a light that fails to illuminate can make driving conditions unsafe for you and other drivers and possibly result in getting a ticket. This is one of the biggest things that people miss, because few drivers see the front of their own car while the car is on and the lights are shining. One of the easiest ways to ensure that all your headlights and taillights are in working order is to drive by a window or another reflective surface to check all your lights in the reflection. Of course, this is only if you’re already driving and can’t pull over to check when you’re in doubt. The best way to be sure is to check the lights with the car running before you take to the road, as often as once a week. If you notice any lights are out, you’ll want to take your vehicle to a mechanic or perform any necessary repairs or bulb replacements yourself as soon as possible.
Having a crack in your windshield might seem like nothing more than a minor nuisance, but the crack could quickly grow bigger and impede your vision. Police officers often issue citations to drivers who have noticeable windshield cracks. It is actually illegal to drive with a crack in your windshield with a circumference larger than a quarter. Some minor windshield cracks can be repaired with tools at an auto body shop, but larger cracks that can interfere with seeing the road while driving will usually require windshield replacement. Even if a crack can be repaired, the integrity of your windshield is compromised and may make it easier for more cracks to develop in the future.
Most states require drivers to take their vehicles to a mechanic or vehicle emissions test station yearly or once every two years. The emissions check involves a test that gauges the amount of air pollutants that a vehicle emits. Your state may require you to complete an emissions test to receive your new car tabs every year, and failing to do the test or update car tabs could put you in trouble with the law. Even if you are only a day or two late, you have to get a certificate to extend the expiration date until you are able to get an emissions test. Thankfully, these tests can be quickly done at nearly any auto shop and most often can be done in a walk-in appointment. The moment you realize you are late or close to late on your emissions test, pull over to your preferred shop and get it done to avoid hefty fines.
If your front or rear bumper is missing, your vehicle won’t be as protected in the event of a collision. The law requires every car to have both a front and rear bumper. The only exception is for models that were made before the law was made and a bumper isn’t included in the model design. Even so, not having both bumpers will increase the risk of you being pulled over by a traffic officer. At that point, you will need to provide proof that your vehicle meets those exception requirements. If your car doesn’t have a bumper for any reason, it’s better for you all around to get that remedied as soon as possible.
Breaking traffic laws can be a serious detriment to your driving record. This can increase your cost of insurance and hurt your credit, as well. Suffering these penalties feels even worse when the law was broken by mistake. Take the time to look into both local and federal laws regarding your vehicle make sure that you are compliant with all regulations. By being informed and on top of your vehicle’s upkeep, you can protect yourself from costly legal losses.