Minor Traffic Offense Arrests


Arrested for THAT?!

As you are driving to/from work today, you’ll probably do something that could land you in jail. I’m not implying that you’ll knock over a bank; just that you drive poorly.

By driving poorly, I mean that you’ll probably commit some benign traffic offense. Unfortunately, you can be arrested for violating even the benign traffic laws in Texas.

Violating Traffic Laws

Let me first clarify what these “traffic laws” are. We’re not talking about Driving While Intoxicated or other serious crimes that happen to involve a motor vehicle, but just those simple rules that

you learned to pass your driver’s test and then tried your best to forget about.

We’re talking about REALLY minor traffic offenses like: improper lane change, parking your vehicle on the wrong side of the road, or even failure to wear a seatbelt. Even though these are normally fine-only offenses (no jail time), an officer can arrest you for committing these crimes in his presence. However, there are a couple of exceptions.

The Two Exceptions

There are two circumstances where an officer cannot arrest you if you provide a written promise to appear. You know this “promise to appear” as “signing the ticket.”

You’ll be happy to know that one of those offenses you can not be arrested for is speeding. It’s a huge sigh of relief to you and your lead foot, I know. The other offense that you cannot be arrested for is violation of the open-container law. That is, if you sign the ticket.

Why Arrest For Traffic Offenses?

This may surprise you, but officers will use minor traffic stops as a pretext until they find something really juicy. Some of our state’s biggest drug busts happened that way.

If the officer simply writes you a ticket, he has to let you go. Although, he may ask you for permission to search your car which I HOPE you do not agree to. But if the officer arrests you first, he can search your car incidental to that arrest. Starting to get the picture?

What Should I Do If This Happens To Me?

If this happens to you, there isn’t much you can do. All I can recommend is that you remember that you have rights that are there for your protection; mainly your right to remain silent and your right to an attorney.

Above all though, my best advice is that you not violate those traffic laws because they are there for your safety and mine. I mean, seriously, wear your seatbelt kids.

See: Texas Trans. Code § 543.004

–Authored by Matthew L. Harris, Esq.,

 Matthew Harris Law, PLLC – Criminal Defense Division

1001 Main Street, Suite 200, Lubbock, Texas, 79401-3309

Tel: (806) 702-4852 | Fax: (800) 985-9479

[email protected]