A law enforcement officer has just stopped you. Your mind is racing; much as if your car was doing, is there anything you can do to get out of this ticket? There are ways in which to get away with a warning instead of the expenses of a speeding ticket.
The expense won’t stop with the ticket. Most moving violations wind up on your driving record, where your insurance company will see them and use them to calculate your rates. Car insurance discounts go to drivers who pose the least risk.
What you do from the moment the law enforcement officer turns on his lights and pulls behind you is noted by the officer. What you say and do can help or hurt you. The first things you need to do are safely, cautiously slow down and pull over to the shoulder of the road. Do not leave the officer following you for a long period or you will start on the wrong foot immediately.
If there is no room on the side of the road, try to pull into a parking lot off the road. If you are in a dark or unpopulated area when the officer pulled behind you the officer should understand if you put on your hazards and signal that you will pull over when you feel safe. In some states, you can now use your cell phone to call a special number for the police, sheriff, or highway patrol dispatcher.
Once contacting the dispatcher, you can explain why you are not pulling over immediately, and they will convey this to the pursuing officer. Also, remember to use your turn signal as you pull over, or if you get a ticket, you might have an extra item added to it.
Once you have stopped your vehicle, try to remain calm. Stay in your vehicle unless the officer requests you to step out. If you are jittery and jump out of the car, you will most likely make the officer believe there is a reason for concern. Officers work in a high-stress environment and are weary of being attacked by upset drivers.
You might need to move around in the car and get your registration and insurance card out of your glove box but do not do it yet. Do not rummage through your purse for your driver’s license or grab for your wallet yet either.
It is best to wait until the officer has walked up to the car and asked for these items, especially your car insurance card. Until the officer arrives, it is best to put the car in park, put down your window, and keep your hands in plain view. Other movements around the car might make the law enforcement agent suspicious.
Once the officer does arrive at your window, try to remain calm. Be polite and courteous, do not talk back or give the officer a “lip”. Once the officer requests your license, registration and proof of car insurance get them out as quickly as possible. Always know where these items are so you will not have to search the car for them, which might irritate the officer.
The smoother you make the process the more likely you will be able to get away with a warning instead of a ticket. If your registration is put on the car properly and your insurance card is up to date that might give the officer more confidence in you as a stand-up citizen in which a warning would be enough.
Having your information in proper order is not enough to get you off with just a warning. You have to know how to talk to the officer. The officer will probably ask if you know why you have been stopped. The officer would like you to admit to speeding and if you do the ticket will soon follow. Car insurance increases from 26% to 43%, on average, after just one speeding ticket.
Instead of blurting out that you know you were speeding, remain calm and quiet. What if the officer pulled you over for something like your license plate light being out and you say sorry for doing 70 in a 55? You never know why the officer has pulled you over until he states it to you.
Once the officer states you have been pulled over for speeding, there are several responses you can make. One is honesty — yes you know you were going over the posted speed. The officer might appreciate your truthfulness and allow you to go with a warning. The downside to this response is that the officer might decide to go ahead and give you the ticket and now he has you admitting to the offense.
A second response is to deny that you were speeding. This can create a tense atmosphere between you and the law enforcement officer, but if you truly believe you were not speeding you can try to explain to the officer that. The officer might believe that you were unaware of your infraction, perhaps understand, and give you a warning.
Alternatively, the officer might give you the ticket to prove that they believe you were speeding. The upside to this response is if you do receive a ticket you will have more of a chance to beat it in front of a judge since the officer cannot say you admitted to the offense.
The last kind of response is a non-response. Instead of saying you did or did not know you were speeding respond with an “I understand” or “I see.” This is where you might give a plausible excuse, like on your way to the hospital or an emergency, and were unaware of your speed. The officer is likely to have heard every excuse in the book so do not try to make up an elaborate story that the officer will see right through. The officer will likely ignore what you say if you sound like a liar.
Next time a law enforcement officer pulls you over, try these hints and always be truthful but not forthright. The most important thing to remember is to be polite and respectful. This is the best way to make the officer want to give you a warning instead of a ticket.
— Michelle Megna contributed to this story.