By: Aman Nagpal
We’ve all been there. You’re cruisin’ down the highway singing along to your favorite Miley Cyrus song and suddenly, it happens. You see the flashing lights in your rear-view mirror and you begin cursing under your breath. Stop right there. This is no time to panic. Remain calm and follow these tips, and you just might be able to get out of a ticket. Here’s a list of what to do if you get pulled over by a cop: Find a well-lit area to pull over This should be common sense, but please do not block off an entire road if a cop is signaling you to pull over. You don’t want to create a traffic jam. Reduce your speed and turn on your hazard lights to give the cop a heads up that you see him, and then quickly find a place to stop. If it’s dark out, a well-lit parking lot may be a good option. Obviously there are situations where this can be difficult, like if you’re driving on the highway, but the key here is to be safe.
Create a safe environment for the officer
You may not realize it, but there’s no such thing as a typical traffic stop. About 150 police officers are killed in the line of duty each year, including deaths that have occurred during “routine” traffic stops. That’s why you should try your best to keep the officer at ease and to create a sense of safety.
Once you park your car, you should go ahead and turn your engine off and place your keys on the dash. Then turn your interior light on and roll your window down all the way. Lastly, place your hands on the wheel and wait for the officer to reach your vehicle.
Don’t make any quick movements
This goes hand in hand with providing safety for the police officer. Once your hands are on the wheel, do not move them unless you’re asked to. If the officer asks for your license and/or registration, you can tell him where it is and ask if you can reach for it. If he gives you permission, reach for it slowly.
Why slowly? You wouldn’t want the officer to be worried that you’re reaching for a gun, would you? Keep this step in mind and it will set a good tone for the rest of the stop.
Speak to the officer with respect
Let the officer speak to you first. You don’t want to start getting defensive the second he reaches your window, and making excuses will only jeopardize your chances of getting out of it.
Keep your answers brief, especially if he asks open-ended questions. For all you know, the officer may not have been able to clock your speed, and is looking for an admission of guilt. If an officer asks if you know why he stopped you, you can always say, “No.” While you should be respectful and courteous, there’s no reason why you have to admit to anything.
Finally, hope for the best
If the cop wasn’t able to get anything out of you, or if he was just in a good mood, he might let you go with a warning. And if you’re not so lucky, you could still get away with it in court. If a cop still has nothing on you, the fact that you didn’t admit to anything could put you in a position to have the ticket reduced or dropped.
What do you do if you are still stuck with a ticket? See if a lawyer can help. Paying minimal legal fees might be better in the long run, especially if your insurance rates will go up with points on your license.
Note: I am not a lawyer, and none of this should be considered legal advice. These are just some friendly tips to be used at your discretion.