Can a police officer turn his headlights off when driving at night to check to see if your plate light works?

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Can a police officer turn his headlights off when driving at night to check to see if your plate light works?

I was arrested after the police officer turned his headlights off driving behind me at night for a plate light violation. My plate light was only dim and this police officer admitted to me that it may have been only dim after the stop,

Asked on March 28, 2012 under Criminal Law, Maine

Answers:

Kevin Bessant / Law Office of Kevin Bessant & Associates

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

What the officer is looking for during most traffic stops is "probable cause" to pull you over. This can be for speeding, failing to signal, broken tail-light, swerving while driving, etc. The issue in your case is whether or not a broken plate light gives an officer probable cause to pull someone over in your state. Because traffic laws vary by state, I can not for certain tell you if plate-light violations are grounds for a police traffic stop where you live. But if they are valid stops in your state, then, yes, what the officer did would be legal by law.


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