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How We Learn About the Law: Traffic Law

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By Steven Tanner on September 04, 2012 4:03 PM

Do you drive a car, ride a motorcycle, or even pedal a bicycle? Or do you ride the bus or just walk wherever you go? The point is, you are subject to traffic laws no matter how you roll. The average U.S. commuter spends more than 100 hours a year driving to and from work, according to the most recent U.S. Census Bureau statistics, making traffic easily one of the most commonly confronted areas of law for most Americans.

But just like any other legal subject, what you don't know can hurt you; and when it comes to traffic, ignorance of the law can quite literally be a matter of life death.

From parking tickets to vehicle searches, window tint laws to hit and run accidents, FindLaw.com's extensive Traffic Laws section has you covered. Senior Content Specialist Kevin Fayle recently updated the section and described his approach.

“I just looked at what was there to see if anything needed to be changed because of changes in the law, [or added because of] gaps in content; I looked at what people were searching for and whether or not we were meeting those needs,” Fayle said. “I also looked for things that could be more easily explained.”

One of Fayle’s newest articles answers the question: “Can the Police Set Up Roadblocks for Any Reason?” You’ll have to read the article yourself for the full explanation, but the short answer is no, based on a November 2000 U.S. Supreme Court opinion (City of Indianapolis v. Edmond) which held that roadblocks violate the Fourth Amendment unless they are set up for a specific purpose.

Fayle’s challenge in writing that article was to condense a body of law informed by the Fourth Amendment, at least five Supreme Court decisions, and various state laws into a concise explanation that helps those who didn’t go to law school better understand the issue.

“I felt like I was able to concisely explain the jurisprudence behind roadblocks,” said Fayle, describing federal roadblock rules as fairly complex. “I figure if just one person is interested and goes back and reads the case, then it’s worth it.”

While the law behind roadblocks certainly is important, Fayle said our content on window tint laws is the most popular within the section. We even provide state-specific information on window tint laws. Our users also like articles on how to beat a traffic ticket, including our piece on how to challenge radar gun evidence in court.

Interestingly, Fayle offered advice for when drivers are pulled over that is decidedly non-legal. The real secret with traffic stops, he said, is to just be polite to the officer.

“If you’re just nice and polite — without admitting fault — the officer sometimes will be cool with it,” he said. “Don’t get upset or angry; it’s better to have the officer give you a ticket for just one thing.”

Stay safe on the roads, be cool with the cops, and be sure to check out FindLaw.com’s Traffic Laws section for answers to your traffic-related questions.

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