Are police traps legal?

UPDATED: Sep 29, 2022

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Are police traps legal?

Also, was this a legal stop? I was in traffic when a police officer starts walking toward my vehicle and I notice that he is walking past all of the other cars in front of me and he is definitely staring at me. Sure enough, he comes to my window and asks for my license, so I give him my license and he tells me to pull up to the next officer just down the road about 50 feet. This officer, tells me to go around the corner where they literally set up shop, and told me to pull in front of the three squad cars. He tells me I made an illegal left turn and me and my three passengers are very confused. Then of course he starts asking me about my tinted windows and lack of front plate. I did not make an illegal turn.

Asked on November 5, 2015 under General Practice, New Jersey


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 7 years ago | Contributor

Yes, a police "trap" is legal: the police may set up areas for enforcement of various traffic laws and target drivers in those areas. They are also allowed to stop or ticket driver A but not B, C, or D who'd been doing the same thing, because the police can't stop *everyone*--they don't have the resources, so they pick and choose who to stop. And they also have discretion, if there area  number of different violations, to choose which ones to ticket, and yes, they can do specifically choose to give out violations which are less likely to be challenged (e.g. less points) and/or more likely to bring in revenue.
Now, if you did not in fact do the things you were accused of, that's different: you can only be ticketed or charged if you violated the law. However, if you did these things, then being ticketed is legal.

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