Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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Laura Walker graduated college with a BS in Criminal Justice with a minor in Political Science. She married her husband and began working in the family insurance business in 2005. She became a licensed agent and wrote P&C business focusing on personal lines insurance. Laura serviced existing business and wrote new business. She now uses her insurance background to help educate drivers about...

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Reviewed by Laura Walker
Licensed Agent for 10 Years

UPDATED: Jul 30, 2021

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Traffic tickets are issued for a variety of reasons and the fines, penalties and laws can vary depending on where you were lucky enough to meet a police officer. Some traffic tickets simply come with a warning while others come with heavy fines, traffic school options and demerit points.

More serious ones like a DUI offense even certainly require legal representation. Operating a vehicle is a big responsibility for the safety of you, your passengers and the people around you so it’s imperative to abide by traffic laws.

Even a single speeding ticket can cost you hundreds of dollars a year in higher car insurance rates and commit a serious enough offense you may be headed to the slammer for a little while.

One of the most common reasons people get ticketed is they simply forget to abide the law by while others become so distracted or frustrated with other drivers they simply lose the sense of responsibility behind the wheel for a few moments. However it breaks down you need to pay attention when driving a car.

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So what is a ticketable offence and what is just merely annoying?

Below is our list of the top 20 things people do that deserve a traffic ticket but since we are not in any position to create traffic laws we will leave the conviction up to the courts to impose.

#1) Speeding

Speeding is for losers. While maintaining an even traffic flow is important trying to act like Tom Cruise in Days of Thunder is not going to increase your life span. In fact, you may spend the rest of your life bankrupt or in jail if you cause a high speed accident.

Speeding tickets are some of the most expensive tickets around. Taxing authorities say they need the money but they say that every year and then complain when people get laid off like everywhere else.

The only way to get the budget from declining is to raise tickets with the most volume and speeding tickets certainly represent the highest number of traffic tickets issued.

Ticket Verdict:  You Speed and you will be ticketed someday, somehow with an expensive fine to pay and lots of demerit points as a bonus.

#2) Carjacking

When you steal a car odds are you are going to get caught – Maybe not the first time but every car you steal increases your odds for a free ride in a police cruiser.

Auto theft is a huge problem in some areas and in addition to getting a nice orange jumpsuit and legal bills some law enforcement officials think of catching a car jacker as similar to winning the office lottery for this month’s quota.

You can bet in addition to the felony charge a whole book of citations will be issued for speeding, reckless driving, 18 counts of running a red-light and more.

On the upside you don’t have to worry about higher car insurance rates for a while since very few state prisons have any kind driving privileges for inmates.

Ticket Verdict:  Lots of Tickets, yard time and pre-cooked meals here – Don’t even think about it

#3) Broken Taillights

Have you ever seen the movies?

Almost anyone who has something to hide gets pulled over for a broken tail light and you expect to have immunity?

Odds are you can drive around for a year with a broken tail light but the minute you leave a holiday party with the secretary from the 2nd floor flashing lights will go off and there is undeniable proof you were not working late tonight.

Broken taillights also greatly reduce the visibility of other drivers looking at your rear end so its important to get any broken tail light fixed as soon as possible.

Ticket Verdict:  Minor Ticket .. Very annoying for other drivers and high odds of getting stopped when you least want law enforcement to show up.

#4) Cutting off old people

Seriously – how could you cut off this charming old lady? She is someone’s grandmothers and just wants to attend her afternoon Bingo game before she’s confined to a life with Alec Trebeck and Jeopardy for her golden years.

Have some patience with elderly drivers as you will too will get old someday and have little punks yelling at you. While driving is a privilege its also a necessity for some old folks to keep enough activity in their lives and hearts beating.

Never cut anyone off as you can often be cited for a traffic violation and grandma will just roll along laughing at the young stud who thought he knew it all.

Ticket Verdict: Depends on how you cut her off but in the moment odds are you will forget using your signal to change lanes and lose sight of everything else around so the odds of a ticket are high and a car accident even higher. Don’t let the blue hairs get to you – have some patience young Jedi’s.

#5) Running a Red Light

Green means go, yellow means slow down and RED MEANS STOP… Seriously, how difficult is this stuff?

We know its tempting to roll though a 4 way stop when there is not a vehicle in sight however do you really want to risk a few hundred dollars, higher car insurance rates and demerit points simply because you didn’t want to make a complete stop.

Running a red light is one of the traffic tickets that usually comes with a lot of demerit points and in the event of a car accident whoever ran the red light is typically at fault.

No matter how good you were at Frogger back in the 80’s your ability to dodge oncoming traffic is much better tested buying the newest Atari game than risking your life in an intersection. We all have some place to go… stop and breathe.

Ticket Verdict: A Real ticket and a real fine. Running a stop sign is a serious offense and you will be most likely determined to be at-fault in any car accident.

#6) No turn signals

It can be difficult to use the turn signal especially when you’re trying to drive a stick, drink a double espresso, talk on your cellphone and read the morning newspaper but wait… this is not the seat of men’s room but a 3,000 pound of machinery which has the ability to flip over and submit you to months of drinking through a straw.

All because you couldn’t move your thumb.

Turn signals play a big role in eliminating the guesswork out of driving in traffic and without Houdini’s mad skills forgetting to use your turn signals can cause other drivers to rear-end you in a flash.

Ticket Verdict: Serious road rage and consequences if another driver doesn’t happen to have mind reading skills plus fines and demerit points.

While it can be hard to prove in a car accident (unless you step out of the vehicle and declare it was your fault against your lawyers advice) part of being a responsible driver is following all the rules of the road and not shortcutting the ones that involve a little bit of finger exercise.

#7) No Proof of Insurance

Would you risk your health, all your family assets and driving privileges for $125? When you drive with no car insurance that’s pretty much what you do.

National average car insurance rates run around $125 a month and the penalties for driving with no car insurance can be severe. If you happen to get in a car accident with no auto insurance expect years of legal bills and hiding from process servers.

You also want to get the right types of auto insurance since many cheap car insurance policies don’t actually cover damage to your vehicle. Learn about the types of auto insurance and purchase coverage like everyone else.

Ticket Verdict: Driving with no car insurance is probably the stupidest thing you can do as a driver. Just the ticket alone can be north of $1,000 in some states not to mention the high risk car insurance group you now fall in.

Being convicted of driving with no car insurance can lead to much higher car insurance rate, personal liability, criminal charges in some cases and well… do you really need more reasons to get car insurance? If you do then buy a skateboard, everyone will be happier.

#8) Rubberneck Fines

A 30 minute drive can often take 2 hours when somebody decides they need to change a tire on the side of the road. Humans love to watch others but somehow our minds have never equated a car broken down on the side of the highway as normal. Many drivers think its some kind of tourist attraction and slow down to awfully slow speeds to catch a glimpse.

Granted they would never stop to help but just wishing they can catch some kind of view into another person’s dreary day can help them feel better about their own mundane life.

Any kind of sudden stop or reduction in speed on a highway is seriously dangerous. When many other drivers are passing you by think about the traffic flow and realize that when somebody changes lanes or other drivers expect to be moving a certain speed your rubbernecking can force them to break out their Superman reaction skills and unfortunately not everybody has this gene.

Ticket Verdict: There is no ticket we know of that is issued to rubberneckers besides the title of !$%!%%!%

#9) No Visible Handicap Fine

Disability parking is based on the needs of the community and federal legislation to allow persons with disabilities easier access to buildings, stores etc.  These familiar blue stickers are not for show but a real solution for real health problems yet so many people take their grandmother out for a nice brunch and then down to the DMV to pick up one (only to stuff it in their dashboard later).

Traditionally known as wheelchair parking due to (the picture of a wheelchair) these parking permits are given out for a number of health reasons and highly coveted in the black market of bingo halls.

Permit holders do not need to use a wheelchair to get a permit so avoid getting frustrated about the 20 year old pushing the shopping cart to her premier parking space as you really don’t know what’s going on. Plus much like diplomatic immunity there is really nothing you can do.

Some law enforcement officials won’t even ask visibly healthy persons parked in a disability parking space about why they have a permit since some lawyers may find it as grounds to sue the department for discrimination on the rare fact that the 20 year old pushing the shopping cart and chatting on her cell phone really does have a handicap.

Ticket Verdict: You can’t win with these things. If the vehicle has a handicapped parking permit then they can park. If you try it without a valid handicapped parking permit expect to get fined heavily and your car towed away.

#10) Expired Tags

Every year you have to renew your vehicle tags and the DMV sends out stickers to put on the back of your car or license plate. These are not commemorative thank you stickers for the donation to the local tax coffer but proof that your car is properly registered.

Expired tags are much like broken tail lights where they give law enforcement a reason to stop you at any time of the day.

Spend the 45 seconds it takes to put the new tags on your vehicle or risk wasting 30 minutes of your life explaining to law enforcement why you are just an absent minded fool.

Ticket Verdict: Small fine but still have to provide proof of registration to the court or DMV and this will waste much more of your time

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#11) Driving while Texting

Is it texting while driving or driving while texting? Many drivers can’t seem to tell the difference and the serious consequences of chatting with your girlfriend about which outfit to wear can lead to serious injuries and fines.

Many states have outlawed the use of handheld phones when operating a vehicle and have stiff fines. Think of the new iPhone you could buy from the money saved from a traffic ticket while texting and driving if the thought of actually killing someone is not serious enough.

Pole position is a classic video game but when operating a real vehicle you need to stay focus on the road. We all do risky things when driving at times but the cell phone is quite likely the most dangerous item you can use while driving a vehicle.

Even putting your lipstick on, car dancing or driving around with a Gremlin on your shoulders is less risky.

Ticket Verdict: Anyone texting while driving should have their thumbs removed but in lieu of ancient roman law you can be fined pretty heavily. No, they won’t take your phone away but somebody should as you pose a serious threat to your safety and that of others.

#12) Going too slow

People drive cars to get places faster – if we wanted to move like a turtle Henry Ford would have invested riding saddles for those cute little creatures.

Driving too slow is almost the equivalent of speeding in some circumstances although its very rare to get a ticket for being too cautious.

Traffic conditions are best when everyone is driving in a smooth flow and if the cars around are going 50mph but you seem to think 25mph is safer then please take another route.

Drivers changing lanes can be forced to break heavily and in  your rearview mirror you will be wondering why there is a 52 car pileup (hint: you caused it)

Ticket Verdict: Driving responsible is fine but understand the traffic conditions around you and if you see everyone passing you then its probably a good sign that you’re going too slow. Although a traffic ticket is unlikely you can be stopped by law enforcement.

#13) Rap at Home

Cruising the Hollywood strip with the windows down and blasting the custom car stereo system sounds kind cool but you’re in the middle of Ohio man!

It is not cool and completely annoying to other drivers when they see you pull up with your arms hanging out, windows down and nothing but noise shaking your car. Whoever told you it was cool is probably spending time in the joint and this move is not going to win you much street credit with the ladies.

Installing a serious sound system is kind of neat but do you really need a stereo system that’s worth more than your car?

If scaring people is your primary gig in life maybe this kind of activity fits your ambitions but why not focus on something a lot more productive than being the annoying person everyone hates.

Ticket Verdict: Some law enforcement officials will pull you over since you’re ticking them off also and some counties will even issue tickets depending on the circumstances. Keep the MTV at home – even rock stars turn off the act when they leave the stage. The only dream you’re living is being a fool on wheels.

#14) Hazard Lights

The great thing about hazard lights is that your dashboard will have 2 blinking lights advising you the hazard lights are on. The downfall is very few people use them in the correct version or realize that they actually have an off switch.

Anytime you use hazard lights many drivers will slow down and proceed with caution around you. However if you’re not looking for an exit and driving like everyone else it can cause a lot of confusion and lead to an accident. Only use your hazard lights in emergencies and try to avoid being the driver everyone is laughing about when they pass you.

Vehicle safety signals are best used in their proper fashion and as much as you think you are a good driver it’s not your mad driving skills to be concerned about but the guy behind you who took his driving test 6 times.

Most accidents are exactly that – accidents – and using vehicle safety signals in their proper fashion can dramatically reduce your risk of spending an afternoon on the side of a road waiting to file an incident report.

Ticket Verdict: Most drivers will not get ticketed for forgetting to turn off their hazard lights but you will receive a discount on membership to the dumb drivers club.

#15) Making an Illegal Turn

Traffic lights are not the only thing you need to pay attention to when driving a car. Many of the nation’s greatest criminals spend quality time making road signs for you to read. You owe it to the guy who bilked your parents out of millions to look at his work.

Road signs play a critical role in the safety of our roads and you need to be aware what they mean. Making an illegal turn is extremely dangerous and cause unsuspecting drivers to quickly slam in to your vehicle. This moving violation is one of the fastest ways to be found at-fault in a car accident.

Not to mention to the police officer hiding behind the bush just waiting to write a ticket.

Ticket Verdict: Making an illegal turn is high demerit point offense with heavy fines and one of the most common traffic violations that lead to a car accident. Always pay attention to safety signs.

#16) Not wearing a Seat Belt

Buckle Up. These two words should be permanently in your vocabulary by now but many drivers can’t seem to put the two together when they are behind the wheel.

We can be empathetic and understand seatbelts can be uncomfortable for some people but how uncomfortable will your head be when it smashes through the window at 90 mph. Advil may do wonders for a hangover but its no match for a cracked forehead and lost limbs.

Studies have shown that failure to wear a seatbelt is one of the largest contributors to serious injury in car accidents (even minor ones) so no matter how far or how fast you are driving always wear your seatbelt.

Some car insurance companies will even deny coverage if the driver or any of the passengers were not wearing their seat belt and why not – you’re breaking the law and then want an insurance company to cover you? Think again.

Ticket Verdict: All state have safety belt laws and tickets for not wearing a seat belt can run high with at least 2 demerit points in most states (you generally only have 12). Car insurance companies can deny coverage and you expose yourself to much greater risk of injury so tell us again why you can’t remember to buckle up?

#17) Failure to Stop for a School Bus

Failing to stop for a school bus takes the cake for the dumbest thing any driver can do. Our children are innocent and defenseless and great precaution is put into making their school environment safe.

No one has any patience for drivers who think passing a school bus is ok and if you even consider passing a school bus we will gladly personally escort you to jail so you can rot away.

School buses are full of children who all have futures and you must respect their presence at all times. Even most law enforcement officials have zero tolerance for drivers who fail to respect school bus safety laws.

There are ZERO reasons NOT to stop for a school bus. Nothing is more precious than our children’s safety – your meeting can wait.

Ticket Verdict: Failure to stop for a school bus is one of the highest traffic violation fines in most states with a whopping 6 point demerit point addition to your driving record in many. Never expect leniency in this area and expect your car issuance rates to go high.

#18) Leaving the Scene of an Accident

So somebody hits you and the police are on their way? At what point do you just go home? Never.

Leaving the scene of a car accident is against any lawyer’s advice (especially when the car accident was not your fault). People change their stories, new injured parties suddenly appear and the next thing you know the person is filing a claim against for you their Chihuahua suffering traumatic shock.

There are many things you need to do in a car accident but leaving the scene is not one of them. Even if the accident is your fault (or you live in a state with no-fault car insurance laws) you certainly want a written car accident report to avoid surprises down the road.

If law enforcement does ticket you for leaving the scene of an accident this can be expensive and detrimental to the number of your remaining DMV demerit points.

Ticket Verdict: All states require drivers to stay at the scene until law enforcement arrives but the details vary by state. Some only require this over a certain amount of damage however in order to protect your liability and make sure all the facts are correct its crucial you stay at the scene. Leaving the scene of a car accident can be a very serious offense.

Many minor accidents involve people switching car insurance ID cards and going home but try waiting for law enforcement to arrive. This will reduce surprises down the road and make you stay in compliance with the law.

#19) Road Rage

What does road rage accomplish? You can yell at someone from inside your car all day long and they still won’t hear you. In more aggressive cases you might just be provoking a driver who been waiting for an excuse to test his new automatic weapon.

A lot of people can’t drive and do stupid things but its rarely ever personal unless you make it.

Road rage is a common factor in many car accidents and almost everyone wakes up the next day thinking private thoughts about how they should have just kept their mouth shut. Here something to remember … no matter how dumb a driver you meet today there will be another one in your line of vision soon.

Get used to it – use your vehicle to get form point A to point B… don’t make it a vehicle of war.

The most common result from Road rage is Regret.

Ticket Verdict: Most drivers will not get ticketed for simply expressing anger but the result of road can rage can lead to serious consequences including physical confrontation, someone following you home and bullets through your windshield. If you raise half a peace sign to a police officer however odds you are going to fill his quota for tickets this month.

#20) Driving with No License

How can we forget the driver with no license? Apparently there is a percentage of the population who never heard of a driver’s license test, the DMV or traffic laws. While these are generally the same people who have some form of ID to purchase alcohol the words “drivers license” they obviously skipped a step in life somewhere.

Driving with no license is the #1 way to ruin your driving record, risk your personal assets and have no shot at affordable car insurance rates for a long long time.

While we would love to provide a theory on how these people think its almost as difficult as trying to understand why the person who thinks buying 112 lottery tickets at the same time.

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