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Is it possible to be justified in breaking traffic laws?

Traffic laws are in place to maintain the safety of the general public. However, are there times that one might need to break traffic laws to be safe? This question is more than a mental exercise; many find themselves needing to break the law to stay safe.

As a law-abiding citizen that prides themselves on following the law, it can be difficult to imagine a scenario where breaking the law would be the correct thing to do to stay safe.

3 cases where breaking the law might have been the right thing to do

Let’s take a look at 3 hypothetical situations where breaking the law may be called for.

  • Baby on the way: John’s wife screams “John!!! The baby is coming!” John’s wife is pregnant and two months before her due date. Nevertheless, the baby is on the way and critically premature. Time is of the essence. What if John exceeds the speed limit on route to the emergency room? He did just that and when he was pulled over, instead of being fined, he was given a police escort to the emergency room where both John and the police officer exceeded the speed limit together.
  • Saving a pedestrian: Jane is driving down a two-lane country road when a child chasing a ball runs in front of her car. She swerves across the double yellow line to avoid running the child over. Thankfully, no other vehicles were coming in the opposite direction and this was the only evasive maneuver that she could make. She broke the law, but she saved a child’s life. Was she justified?
  • Passing safely: When passing on a two-lane road, Jimmy found it necessary to briefly exceed the speed limit to pass a slower-moving vehicle.

Laws are always in full force and are not suspended in emergencies. However, the enforcement of those laws is a matter of the courts and law enforcement. The legal system takes all extenuating circumstances into account when passing judgment.

If you feel that you did the right thing given the unique situation, then it may be time to get help to deal with traffic tickets or criminal charges.