Special Report: Are your car upgrades ticket bait?
FRESNO, Calif. (FOX26) —
You want your car to look good.
But some changes you make to it could make you a police target.
Sergio Oregel of Tranquillity found out the hard way.
“I get good reactions, sometimes a thumbs up,” he says, about his 2015 Mitsubishi Lancer. “It’s a wicked white. It’s a fast car, all-wheel drive.”
He bought it in April.
By August, he got pulled over.
Speed was one factor.
But, there was more.
“I didn’t have a front license plate, [the officer] said my car was sounding too loud,” he says.
The CHP officer even asked him to pop the hood.
The Lancer had after-market parts.
“Close to $900! I was like, tsss… I gotta get it fixed,” Oregel says.
“The law says it’s enough probable cause because it’s a violation of an existing vehicle code section,” says Fresno Police Captain Michael Reid.
He says even if drivers aren't speeding, there are illegal modifications that could warrant pulling you over.
“They do a lot of safety testing with the car as is at the factory. The safest it’s gonna be is when it comes from the factory and it hasn’t been modified too much.”
These include tinting.
“The darker you go, the more obscure the light is going in. If you have a blacked out rear window, you won’t see oncoming traffic especially at night,” Reid says.
Some drivers are also getting ticketed for not having two license plate—one on the front, the other on the back.
“You’re supposed to put two on there,” Reid says.
When officers see one, it could signal to some that the second plate has been stolen.
“We want to make sure that’s in the system if that’s occurred,” Reid said.
Sound systems can also make your car a target.
“The law says that if I can hear that 50 feet away from your car, it’s too loud and we can cite you for that so that is something we look for as well. It’s something we enforce,” Reid says.
Some of the trends are inspired by Hollywood and come and go.
Most recently, police have seen modifications modeled after the ‘Fast and Furious’ movie series.
If you are ticketed for some of these violations, there is some good news.
You can fix them, have an officer sign off on the repairs, and go to court to ask to cut the fine.
Oregel made his case in court.
“I get it smog checked and install my front license plate, they’ll drop the price down from $900 to $50. Hell yeah, worth it,” Oregel said.