Don’t Hang that Pine Tree from Your Rear-View Mirror

As someone who represents clients against criminal charges in Virginia, I strongly recommend you NOT hang anything from your rear view mirror.

Why?

Virginia state law has this funny provision, which makes it illegal to have something hanging there that might interfere with your ability to see the road.

So What? My [high school graduation tassel/air-freshener/CD/religious-item] never gets in my way when I’m driving.

While that might be true, the mere suspicion that the item might interfere with your ability to see the road is sufficient reason in Virginia to stop you. According to the United States Supreme Court, a police officer only needs “reasonable, articulable suspicion” to stop you.  Essentially, they need just more than a hunch. The section of Virginia law above gives them what they need.  Challenging the stop is often the first, best, defense in a serious traffic case.

One day or night, when you’d rather not be stopped by a police officer and asked questions, searched or delayed, he may follow your car as you carefully obey the traffic laws. He’ll grow frustrated that you haven’t yet broken any of the over 147 of them. And then he’ll see the shadow of your parking pass.