Almost all drivers have been pulled over for a routine traffic stop. Often, drivers might view the cause of the stop and impending traffic ticket nonsensical. As a fellow motorist, I have experienced being pulled over for a routine traffic stop after going 5 mph over the speed limit on a highway with a speed limit of 65 mph. There are no guarantees that you can talk your way out of a ticket for a traffic violation. But, there are a few things you could choose to do that would almost always guarantee to make your situation much worse.
1. Do NOT run from the police in a high speed chase
Do not run. Do not try to run. Do not think about running. Do not put create a scenario in which a police officer might think that you might run. If there is not a safe place to pull over, such as you are asked to pull over by the side of a ditch, signal immediately and drive another 100 feet to where you can safely pull over. Running from police can be much worse than most initial infractions. In addition to the initial infraction, failing to yield to law enforcement can easily turn a traffic ticket into being charged with multiple felonies involved in a high speed chase such as felonious hit-and-runs.
2. Do NOT confess to anything
When a law enforcement official asks the routine question, “Why did I pull you over?” then do not confess to anything. Primarily, you do not know what you were pulled over for. You might have been speeding and ran a red light, but an officer might have pulled you over due to a broken taillight. Instead of confessing to any wrongdoing, give a polite answer such as a shrug and say something vague. You will find out why you were pulled over soon enough.
3. Do NOT become belligerent
“Clever” comments are rarely appreciated. Similarly, arguing about the nature of the traffic stop will not get you far. In the event you feel that the traffic stop was unfair, it is best to apologize for your wrongdoing. For example, be cooperative when asked to show your license and registration and then apologize for not paying more attention when being clocked at going 70 mph in a 65 mph zone. It can be helpful to be almost too polite. Give respect to the officer by saying “Yes ma’am,” or “Yes sir”. Instead of arguing, say that you will learn from your mistake and pay more attention to the speedometer in the future.
4. Do NOT fail to disclose any concealed weapons
Even if you have a concealed weapons permit, the first contact you must make with an officer after being pulled over is to IMMEDIATELY disclose that you have a weapon in the vehicle or on your person. Never chance that the weapon might be accidentally seen. Disclosing that you have a concealed weapon in the vehicle will be must less likely to cause problems than if you fail to do so.
5. Do NOT attempt to bribe an officer
Bribing an enforcement official is a bad idea. Bribery is especially concerning for police officers. If the officer were to accept the bribe, he or she could be in a large amount of trouble. After attempted bribery, officers are required to report the incident. An attempted bribe could have the opposite of a beneficial effect. It will likely land you in more trouble.
6. Do NOT act suspicious or goofy
Cooperate with all instructions while remaining calm. Bursting into tears or inappropriately exposing body parts is rarely helpful. Remember, it is only a routine traffic stop. Have your current registration and license handy and simply follow the instructions given to you. Even if it is hot, do not open the door for fresh air or turn on the engine to run the air conditioning unit and possibly alarm the officer writing the warning or ticket. Remember, it is only a traffic stop.
7. Do NOT ignore the ticket
Either pay the ticket or show up to traffic court. Driving with an unpaid ticket and missed court date is a major risk. If you feel that the ticket was issued unfairly and could negatively impact your license, contact an attorney for advice.
At the end of the day, life goes on after receiving a traffic ticket. However, doing the wrong thing at a routine traffic stop could have serious and lasting consequences.
Lauren Hill writes quality content for Chucker & Reibach, a Virginia traffic law firm that specializes in DUI, speeding and reckless driving citations.