Your Traffic Law Questions Answered, Round Three

Time to find out if Jay-Z was right.

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It’s time for the latest round of traffic law Q&A with New York traffic attorney Matthew Weiss, who’s dishin’ out legal help for any RIDES reader who asks. Check out his latest batch of responses below, and if you’ve got a question for him, drop us an email at or leave your response in the comments below.

Paul asks:

“Odd question, but is it illegal for someone to take a photo of your license plate? I ask this because I was recently involved in an incident where, a lady thought I cut her off in traffic. I merely switched lanes, but this seemed to displease her a lot. I could see in my mirrors that she was obviously trying to take a picture of my plate. It actually bothered me that she would do such a move.”

Mr. Weiss:


I am only a traffic lawyer but, in my opinion, it is NOT illegal to photograph another driver’s license plate.

Philip asks:

“Jay-Z once said “My glove compartment is locked, so is the trunk in the back and I know my rights so you gon’ need a warrant for that.” Fact or fiction?”

Mr. Weiss:


The answer is “both”. A police officer may not open your glove compartment or trunk without a warrant, probable cause or your permission.

Some police officers will “trick” a motorist into consenting but saying something like “You’ll be better off if you let me look”. Don’t fall for it.

They may look (without a warrant) unless you give them permission or they have some type of probable cause.

Carl asks:

“Can I be prosecuted for a speeding violation after the fact, based on evidence found online? For example, say I go out late at night and drive 100 on an empty road and no cop sees me, but then I post a picture of the speedometer on Facebook showing how fast I was going. Could a cop use that to prosecute me?”

Mr. Weiss:


I don’t think that you can or will be prosecuted for a photo of a speedometer displaying 100 mph. Even if you were speeding, there are too many unknown items for the officer to make out a case including who was driving, where you were driving, etc., etc.

With that said, please don’t speed (especially 100 mph) as it is very dangerous to you and others.

Eric asks:

“If I get a large spoiler that blocks my third brake light, could I get a ticket? Do I have to put a brake light on the spoiler?”

Mr. Weiss:


It is illegal to obstruct any of the brake lights (including the third one). You’ll need to get a spoiler that has its own brake light or get a spoiler that doesn’t obstruct the existing one.

Jed asks:

“If I get a speeding ticket tossed out of court, why does it remain permanently online at my state’s website? If a ticket is thrown out, shouldn’t it be erased from my record? (I’m from Washington State.)”

Mr. Weiss:


That’s weird. If you beat any traffic ticket (including a speeding ticket), it is as if the ticket was never issued. Therefore, it should be removed from your record. I recommend that you contact the DMV and ask them to remove it.

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