The news (and protests) about the City of Irving’s policy of reporting the immigration status of everyone stopped for a traffic violation or detained by the police for any other reason has many immigrants afraid to live in or even drive through Irving.

Whether you’re a legal or illegal immigrant or an American citizen, it can be helpful to know how best to avoid being stopped by the police for any reason.

First and foremost, know and obey all traffic laws. The best source for learning the rights and responsibilities of Texas drivers is the Texas Drivers Handbook, available free from the Web site of the Texas Department of Public Safety.

Obviously the police will, and should, stop any driver who runs a red light, speeds, doesn’t come to a complete stop at a stop sign, or commits some other major traffic violation. But police look for other, less obvious, driving errors also. They are trained to do this in order to get drunk drivers off the road, but it’s a good idea for each of us to know what activities might catch the eye of a patrol officer.

There are preventive steps you can take to avoid being stopped. Many of these steps will help you avoid making the driving mistakes that might lead a police officer to decide to pull you over.

Let’s assume you are about to drive a car. If you are at all uncomfortable or unfamiliar with the car you are driving, you are much more likely to make mistakes or drive erratically. And if you are not driving well, you are more likely to get stopped by a police officer.

If you are driving a car you are not used to–a friend’s car, a car you just bought, or a car you have not driven in awhile–it is important that you take a moment to remind yourself where everything is before you start to drive: emergency brake, transmission, turn signals, windshield wipers, headlights, high beams, hazard lights, and so on. To get an overall feel for the car, just grip the steering wheel and put your foot on the brake. Also make sure that the seat and steering wheel are adjusted properly for you.

Taking a few seconds to do this is especially important if you are used to driving a car with a different kind of transmission. If, say, you are driving an automatic when you are accustomed to a manual, spending a minute or two to familiarize yourself with the car can make the difference between getting where you are going safely and slamming on the brake in a frantic search for a non-existent clutch.

Also make sure everything on the outside of your vehicle is in working order and that your vehicle registration tags are current. Police officers often use a minor vehicle infraction like broken taillights or expired registration tags as a reason to stop a vehicle. Things like broken taillights are especially likely to get you pulled over at night when they can be easily seen.

Before you start driving, know where you are going, how to get there, and how to get back home. Getting lost and trying to find the right road will inevitably lead to errors in your driving.

If the unfortunate occurs, and you are stopped, know your rights and what to expect when you are pulled over.

If you have any questions about these matters, please contact Kraft & Associates.

For more information about immigration news, immigration laws, immigration policies, proposed immigration laws, border enforcement, green cards, citizenship, employment visas, family visas, naturalization, and other immigration subjects, please visit Immigration Law Answers and DFW Immigration Law Blog.