Can The Police Pull You Over For a Pine Tree Air Freshener?

It depends upon your state.

One of the concerns that you should have with the equipment on your vehicle when you’re driving anywhere, is whether or not it could be a source for the police to pull you over. The majority of people are not doing anything illegal on most days; however, sometimes you might have a little too much to drink and not even realize it. Or maybe your license is suspended and you didn’t get a notice that you forgot to pay your insurance bill or something. There are many things that could go wrong that you wouldn’t even really know about. You should be careful to make sure that you don’t give the police an excuse to pull you over.

Many states allow the police to stop you for an air freshener or parking tag hanging from your rear view mirror.

Virginia used to be one of those states. Our law prohibits objects hanging from your car in a way that “substantially obstruct the driver’s clear view of the highway”. A Virginia Court of Appeals case in 2014 examined the exact issue about whether or not a pine tree air freshener just a few inches tall is enough for the police to pull you over. The key analysis was whether or not the pine tree could have obstructed the driver’s view. The court found that it could, and it ruled a pine tree air freshener stop was legit.

However, on March 1 of 2021, Virginia’s law changed. The law still prohibits driving with a “dangling object;” however, the police cannot stop you for that reason. They must have another reason to pull you over first, and then can also ticket you for your favorite scented tree.

Even before the law changed in Virginia, most officers would not likely pull you over just due to a pine tree air freshener or fuzzy dice. But if an officer was suspecting you of DUI or having a suspended license and was looking for a legitimate reason to stop you, an air freshener gave them that reason. In many states, the police can likely still pull you over for a “Little Tree”.

Protect yourself. Learn the law of your state and follow it. Don’t give the police a reason to stop you.

Learn more about your rights with the police:

Protect Yourself with the RIGHT Answers to Police Questions

Defend Your Rights by NOT Talking to the Police

Andrew Flusche

My name is Andrew Flusche. I am a traffic and misdemeanor defense lawyer in Virginia. I limit my practice to traffic tickets and misdemeanor defense, so I know the ins and outs of these offenses. I literally wrote the book on reckless driving in Virginia which you can get on Amazon here or download for free here. I opened my practice in 2008 after earning my Juris Doctor degree from the University of Virginia School of Law. Since then I have earned over 600 5-star reviews from happy clients on Google, Yelp, and Facebook. If you’ve been charged with a misdemeanor offense in Virginia, please don’t hesitate to contact me. Your initial consultation is always free, and you'll talk directly with me about the details of your case.

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