Picture this: you’re driving along in your car, stereo volume slightly higher than usual because your favorite song came on, when suddenly you hear the tell-tale siren. Glancing in your rear-view mirror, your stomach drops when you see the blue lights. Your mind races. How fast am I going? What’s the speed limit? Is my registration expired? Slightly panicked, you pull over and wait what seems like ages for the officer to approach your window. Can you do anything to prevent the officer from giving you a traffic ticket? Maybe.
Officers actually have a bit of discretion in deciding whether or not to give you a speeding ticket. In some cases, they obviously may issue a citation, but in others, they may reduce the speed of the ticket or even just issue a stern warning. How then, can you improve your chances of moving from the citation category to the warning category? The answers are actually quite simple, and remembering these simple steps could reduce your chances of getting a speeding ticket should you find yourself having been stopped.
I. Stop as soon as practically possible.
As soon as you realize that you are being stopped, you should put on your turn-signal to let the officer know you have noticed that you are being stopped. Next, pull over as soon as it is safely possible to do so. Pulling over sooner signals to the officer that he is not going to need to have a high speed chase on his hands.
II. Pull as far over as you can.
When you pull over, position your car as far from the roadway as you can. Since the officer has to approach your vehicle, this will signal to the officer that you are considerate of and concerned for his or her safety.
III. Stay in your vehicle.
Unless instructed to do so, do not exit your vehicle. Exiting the vehicle may alarm (or at the very least annoy) the officer.
IV. Turn off your engine.
Turning off your engine tells the officer that you do not plan to flee as soon as he exits his vehicle. Additionally, it has the added benefit of lowering the radio volume for you.
V. Keep your hands on the wheel.
Keeping your hands on the wheel at 10 and 2 allows the officer to see that he or she is not walking up to an ambush.
VI. No sudden movements.
Although you know the officer will ask for them, do not reach for your license and registration yet. The officer may think you are retrieving a weapon from your glove compartment. Instead, when the officers requests your documentation, you should then retrieve the license and registration. Ideally, you should be able to easily access both your license and registration as you do not want to have to fumble through a pile of papers to find them.
VII. Be polite.
Being polite with the officer goes a lot further than you may realize. Although the officer may or may not remember each and every person he/she stops, the officer will almost always remember the rude or uncooperative driver. Thus, you want to be as polite and respectful as you possibly can.
VIII. Do not argue.
Although the officer has some discretion as to whether or not to issue a citation, arguing with the officer will almost never prevent the issuance of the citation. Rather, your case should be argued in court, not on the side of the road.
IX. Do not admit guilt.
The officer will take notes of everything you say, and those notes will eventually make it back to court. Therefore, you do not want to admit guilt. There’s no need to say things like, “I know I was speeding, officer,: or “yes, I was definitely doing 85 in a 55.” Instead, just be polite. Yes, sir; no, ma’am; etc.
X. Do not attempt to bribe the officer.
This final tip may go without saying, but you should never under any circumstances attempt to make any sort of offer or bribe to the officer to let you go. Not only with this not work, it could lead to further criminal liability far beyond a mere speeding ticket
Although you may not be able to avoid getting a speeding ticket every time you are stopped, remembering these simple tips may just convince the officer to exercise his discretion.
Should you end up getting that speeding ticket anyway, you should contact an experienced traffic attorney as soon as possible to discuss your options.