Getting pulled over by a police officer sucks. You start feeling scared and nervous and not quite sure why he or she pulled you over. The second you see those bright lights in the rearview mirror, you start to wonder how much money the ticket is going to cost.
But then again, the officer does have the discretion (usually on anything less than 20mph) not to give you a speeding ticket and perhaps let you off with a warning. To better your chances of dodging a speeding ticket, there are certain things you should and shouldn’t do that could potentially help sway the officer’s decision. Here are some “do’s” and “dont’s” when you get pulled over.
If you see an officer, wave and say hello
If you make eye contact with an officer, it’s best to acknowledge them and safely slow down. It’s a way to let the officer know you recognize you could be speeding and you’re going to slow down. It also let’s the officer know you’re a law abiding citizen… most of the time.
Use your signal turn lights the moment you see lights behind you
If you get pulled over, start off on the right foot by communicating with the officer, especially if you’re somewhere that’s too dangerous to immediately stop. Remember, safety first.
If the siren comes on, start pulling over
When and an officer turns their siren on, they’re letting you know to pull over immediately and as safe as possible. They deem it safe enough for you to pull over where you are. When you don’t pull over, it just raises all sorts of red flags.
Have your license, registration, and insurance out before they get to your window
If you have your paperwork readily accessible, have it ready to present to the officer. On the other hand, if you don’t have it ready and need to dig for it, just wait with your hands on the steering wheel and wait to get permission from the officer to find it.
Don’t be a jerk
Sure. You’re probably upset that you got pulled over but chances are there was a good reason for it. Being polite and courteous will get you further away from getting a citation than trying to play “lawyer” with the officer.
Be humble and apologize
We’re all humans, we all make mistakes, and believe it or not officers really do have compassion. You’re speeding and you know it, so apologize to the officer — assuming you’re not doing 20mph over the limit, it might just help get you out of a ticket. Once again, just make sure you do it before they head back to their car.
Don’t have a radar detector
Law enforcement officers are trained to visually estimate your speed within 5mph. More often than not, they’re using their eyes to catch you; then they flip on the radar to get official verification of your exact speed before they turn on their lights.
Try to make the officer smile or laugh
Look, law enforcement officers are human. They don’t need extra BS. Be polite and respectful. There’s a 50/50 chance you’ll get a ticket but it doesn’t hurt as long as you’re not being really obvious about it.
Kiss ass before they go back to their car
Timing is important here, and you want to make sure you’re following these tips before the officer goes back to his or her car. That’s when they run your info and decide whether or not to write a ticket. Once it’s written, it’s in the system and an officer has no power to rescind it, no matter how charming you are when they hand it over. Tearing a ticket up only happens in movies, people.
Don’t talk too much
The officer has other things to do. Chances are they just want to deal with the situation as safely and quickly as possible and be on their way. Don’t ruin your chances of getting out of a speeding ticket because you’re being a “chatty-kathy”. Besides, the last thing you want is to give them a reason to continue to search and ask questions.
Avoid speeding around the holidays
There are certain times of the year — around the holidays, for example — when officers can take overtime to sit around with the sole purpose of writing tickets. That unofficial buffer zone of 5-10mph, give or take, still applies, but once you’re pulled over, you’re not getting any leeway, no matter how many good jokes you crack.
Know an officer
If you have a family member who’s on the force, you can use that card but you have to smooth about it. Work it into the conversation before you hand them your license. Military, clergy, first-responders may get the officer to be a bit more sympathetic but it doesn’t always work. Those times of professions require the understanding of laws and procedures and you just broke them.
Keep in mind that law enforcement isn’t there to harass or annoy you. They provide public safety. Treat them with kindness and respect and you’ll definitely increase your chances of getting out of a speeding ticket.