You have your license, registration and insurance in hand. You are legal to drive now, right? Probably, but what if your vehicle has a headlight out or the license plate light doesn't work? These issues could prove problematic and result in an officer pulling you over for a mechanical violation. It's important to know the minimum standards for all vehicles to safely operate on the roadways.
Under traffic laws in all states, all motor vehicles are required to have certain equipment properly installed on a vehicle, and that equipment must be functioning correctly while the vehicle is in operation. Such equipment includes:
- Lights (headlights, turn signals, brake lights, license plate lights)
- Safety belts
- Tires, and
- Windshields, windows (made of approved safety glass)
A vehicle not properly equipped (i.e. no safety belts installed) or equipped with malfunctioning equipment (i.e. a burned-out head light) can receive a traffic ticket for a mechanical violation. In some states, citations for certain mechanical violations are considered "fix-it" tickets or "correctable violations." In California, for example, if you are given a "fix-it" ticket by a police officer, "yes" will be checked next to "Correctable Violation", and after the problem is fixed (i.e. you repair a non-functioning brake light), you must get the signature of an authorized person (i.e. a local law enforcement officer) on the "Certificate of Correction" portion of the ticket. If you are issued a "fix-it" ticket for a mechanical violation in your state, read the ticket to determine whether you can mail the proof of correction, rather than taking it to court.
If the court accepts your correction, the case will be dismissed. But, if you fail to fix the problem within a short time after you receive a "fix-it" ticket, you will need to pay the fine for the mechanical violation, and you may be issued another ticket which will go on your record.