In this sour economy, a ticket is especially painful, as are license penalty points, which can boost car-insurance rates. To make matters worse, municipalities try to raise revenue by issuing more tickets in hard times. Avoiding the following misconceptions could save you big bucks:
"Not true," says William Van Tassel, national manager of driver training programs at the American Automobile Association. "You're not allowed to exceed the speed limit for any reason."
You could be ticketed if you don't stop before turning. "Some communities require a 100 percent stop; others let you creep to 1 or 2 mph without a full stop," says Josh Weiss, a spokesman for American Traffic Solutions, whose cameras are in 170 U.S. towns.
Prosecutors can rely on the arresting officer's observation. "Drivers have been convicted of DWI with blood-alcohol-content levels as low as 0.03," Van Tassel says. (A driver is presumed to be impaired if the level is 0.08 percent or higher.) A charge can also result from impairment due to medicine.
Work zones, where fines are often doubled, aren't closed unless warning signs are covered or removed, says James Baron, spokesman for the American Traffic Safety Services Association.
Fairly new laws in 47 states make drivers move out of a lane with emergency-vehicle activity or reduce speed for stopped emergency vehicles with lights flashing.