Let’s set the scene. You’re driving and minding your own business. Maybe you’re talking to someone in the passenger seat, getting into the conversation. Maybe you’re in a rush to get to a meeting you’re late for. All of a sudden, you hear those dreaded sirens and see the flashing lights. You’re hoping they’re not for you, maybe the police car just wants to pass or maybe they’re after someone ahead of you. You pull to the side and silently hope they pass. Instead, the police car pulls up and stops right behind you. Ugh.
Okay, you may have been going a drop above the speed limit, or maybe rolled through a stop sign. Maybe the light had turned red and was not still yellow. Whatever the case, here you are. One of the officers is getting out of the driver seat. What do you do now?
Remain in your vehicle and turn off your engine.
Once you’ve pulled over to the side of the road safely, put the vehicle in park, roll down your window, turn on your interior dome light (if it’s dark) and turn the engine off. Immediately showing the officer this compliance can earn you some serious brownie points. Put your hands on the steering wheel. This in combination with lighting will help put the officer’s mind at ease. It is not unheard of for there to be violent traffic stops. You may want to start looking for your license and registration. Do not fumble around the car until you are asked for the documents.
It might be a natural reaction for you to feel frustrated or nervous for being pulled over. Keep your temper and attitude in check. Stay calm and collected and do as you are instructed. There’s nothing to be nervous about. The worst thing that’s going to happen is that you’ll get a ticket. Yes, it sucks, but there’s not much that you can do about this in the moment, so don’t fight about it and upset the officer. Be compliant. If you have questions about your stop, ask them politely.
If you’re planning on fighting the ticket, use short responses.
The lawyers at Saller Law give the advice if you know that you are going to contest the ticket, respond with very short responses like “yes”, “no”, “here you go”, and “one moment, please”. Do not offer any more information than you have to. Police officers are called to court with you when you want to fight a ticket. They usually have notes taken for each ticket they give so they can give a solid statement in court. Court dates tend to be a while from the initial date of the stop, so they want to make sure they have accurate information. Whatever you say to the officer is likely noted by him. Do not directly admit any wrongdoing. Do not respond by acknowledging committing the offense.
If you want to try getting out of the ticket, denying the offense is not going to work.
There are occasions where the police officer will let you off with a warning. Don’t count on this being the case, but if you have no intention of fighting the ticket, you may want to try apologizing. Sometimes immediately apologizing for a minor traffic offense can get you off with a warning. Try telling the officer, “I’m so sorry, officer. I will be more careful next time. I did not mean for this to happen and I understand these actions may have caused harm to myself or others.” If you are serious, sincere, genuine, and the officer sees that you have not had any prior traffic violations, they may let you go with a warning.
If you end up getting a ticket, simply take it from the officer, wish him a good day, and be safe merging back into traffic. Don’t forget to use your blinker! The last thing you need is to get a ticket and then violate another traffic law.
Getting a ticket is inconvenient, can be expensive, and may be a rain cloud over your otherwise nice day. Don’t worry, it’s not the end of the world. What matters when you get pulled over is how you handle the situation. Be calm, collected, and do not act aggressively towards the officer. You’ll get through the stop smoothly and back on the road. Stay safe!