In today’s fast paced world, it’s not surprising that more people speed while driving than those who follow the posted limits. Many people have gotten pulled over at one time or another, and their actions and interaction with the pursuing officer can go a long way in determining if they’ll receive a ticket. Below we discuss what you should do if you see Johnny Law in your rearview mirror.
1. Your car makes the first impression
The way your car looks says a lot about you. You may be passionately Republic or very anti-firearm, but sometimes bumper stickers can start you off on the wrong foot if the officer has opposing views. Consider what stickers and symbols you put on your car. Also, officers almost always glance into your car’s interior before speaking to you. A clean, well kept car offers a more professional appearance.
2. Wave at the officer
Let’s say you come over a hill a little too fast and spot a cop radaring along a turnaround. Give the officer a friendly wave as you drive by, because it can help you in two ways. First, the officer may believe you are a friend or colleague of his and neglect to pursue. Also, the wave can show that you acknowledge your mistake and you are aware that you should be driving slower.
3. Pull over quickly and safely
If you notice a police officer in your rearview mirror, acknowledge his presence by slowing down and putting on your blinker. If you are on a multi-lane highway, merge into the far right lane as quickly and safely as possible. Safe, cautious lane movements show respect for the officer as well as other people on the road. If you are on a busy road, find a safe shoulder or side street to stop on so the officer isn’t in danger when he exits the vehicle to talk to you.
4. Be Polite and Aware
Once you’re on the side of the road, keep your hands on the steering wheel where the cop can see them. Don’t fumble with your glove box or under the seat at this time. If it’s dark out, reach up and turn on your dome light, roll down your window and wait for the officer to approach your car.
Once the officer reaches your door, wait for him or her to speak. Starting out with an excuse or a joke only digs you a deeper hole. Instead, listen to the officer’s instructions. If they ask for any information that you keep in your glove box or under your seat, inform the officer of its location and ask for permission to grab it.
5. Choose your words carefully
There are a lot of routes one can take in hopes of getting out of a ticket, but there are some things you’ll definitely want to avoid. Refrain from giving the cop attitude, and never admit that you were speeding. We’ll throw out three samples and explain why one is better than the others.
“I’m sorry officer, I’m running late for work and was just trying to get there a little quicker.” – In this case, you just admitted that you were knowingly speeding. Although you apologized to the officer, he can write you a ticket with a clear conscience because he knows that you knew you were committing a traffic violation.
“I was aware of my speed and I wasn’t speeding. I want to see your radar.” – Although it is within your rights to request to see the radar, this isn’t the best way to go about it. You start out by calling the officer a liar, and end by making demands. Not a good combination.
“I’m sorry officer, I wasn’t aware that I was going that fast.” – This is the best route to go because you show empathy without admitting that you knowingly broke the law. If the officer tries to get you to admit that you were speeding, simply respond with non-committal answers like “I was not aware” or “I see”. Although some may argue that saying you were unaware of your speed may give the officer reason to write you a ticket for inattentive driving, it is better to go this route than to admit guilt. Try to get through the traffic stop as quickly and as non-memorably as possible.
6. Consider hiring an attorney
Let’s say all those steps failed, and you ended up getting a ticket. Having an attorney on your side can help you go over your options and determine the best route to challenge the ticket. If your stop was non-memorable, the attorney may challenge the officer’s recollection of the stop, as he needs to provide unaided testimony to support his reason for pulling you over. An attorney can also help negotiate deals that can save points on your record or keep you from losing your license.
Related sources: Readers Digest, AOL.com