Traffic arrests occur when a person is taken into police custody in connection with some type of traffic violation. This often happens after a traffic stop, when a person is pulled over in their vehicle by the police due to some violation. In some cases, the person may be handcuffed, and read their Miranda rights. 

Some traffic stops and arrests may also involve testing for drunk driving, especially where the police suspect that the person is driving while under the influence

Can I Be Arrested for a Minor Traffic Violation?

While highly unlikely, the short answer is yes, under certain circumstances. A police officer can arrest you without an arrest warrant. This can happen for instance if they have probable cause to believe that: 

  • You have committed a crime; 
  • You are committing a crime, or  
  • They know you have committed a crime in their presence. 

Thus, if an officer witnesses you committing even a minor traffic violation, they may have the option of arresting you. However, this occurs very rarely and is usually only done if an officer is provoked or if they are somehow placed in danger. To avoid giving police a reason to arrest you for a minor violation, such as an infraction or traffic citation, see How to Handle a Traffic Stop.  

What Types of Minor Traffic Violations Can I be Arrested For?

Depending on the situation, you can be arrested for a variety of minor traffic violations. These may depend on various factors, as well as state laws, since each law has very different traffic laws. Some types of violations that might lead to arrest may include: 

  • Speeding (especially if the speed is well above the posted speed limit);
  • Failure to yield;
  • Failing to stop or signal;
  • Failure to obey traffic lights or signs;
  • Invalid or stolen registration sticker;
  • Invalid driver’s license;
  • Seatbelt violations and child safety seat violations;
  • Reckless Driving; or
  • Broken tail-light or failure to maintain vehicle

In addition, an officer will most certainly arrest you for major traffic violations, such as DUI, refusing to stop for police officer, hit and run, and vehicular manslaughter.

What If I Refuse to Cooperate During a Traffic Stop?

In many cases, arrests that occur in connection with a traffic issue often have to do with the way that the person is interacting with the police. For a minor stop or routine traffic stop, if you cooperate with the police in a calm manner, you will likely not encounter any additional issues. If you are being cited with a minor violation, you will usually receive a ticket and then be allowed to go on your way.

On the other hand however, if you fail to cooperate with police or behave in a difficult manner, the police may then be more inclined to arrest you on the spot. Such behavior may be an indication that the person is under the influence, or that they might potentially place an officer in danger of harm. 

Some type of conduct that might aggravate an otherwise normal traffic stop might include:

  • Yelling or using profane/obscene words towards an officer;
  • Failing to comply with requests (such as a request to exit the vehicle);
  • Being physically violent;
  • Threatening harm to an officer through actions (such as swinging a punch).; and/or
  • Resisting a police officer.

In such cases, the police may simply detain the person until they are calmed down and able to cooperate further with the police. However, in more serious instances (such as if a person assaults a police officer), then the person will likely be arrested and brought into custody at a police station for booking. 

This of course will depend on each individual person and the circumstances surrounding each traffic stop. 

What if a Person Has a History of Resisting Arrest?

Another factor that can change the way a traffic stop unfolds is the background of the person being pulled over. When a person is pulled over, police are able to quickly check the person’s background using their ID or license. In some cases, the system might indicate if a person has a history of resisting arrest. Or, in some cases, the police might personally know the person if they have been arrested or stopped before. 

In such cases, a history of resisting arrest might affect the way the police approach and deal with that person. They may exercise more caution and approach them differently from a person without such a history. This might make it more likely that the police would make an arrest if the person starts to create a commotion or disturbance during a traffic stop. The police however must still act according to proper police procedure.

Should I Contact an Attorney for Help with a Minor Traffic Arrest?

If you have been arrested for any type of minor traffic violation, you may need legal assistance. Any time you are arrested for whatever reason, you have the right to an attorney. If you feel that you were falsely arrested, you should contact a criminal defense attorney in your area immediately.