How to handle getting pulled over

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traffic stop

Being polite at a traffic stop will help make things go as well as they can. Image: Richard Masoner / Cyclelicious/Flickr/CC BY-SA

Nearly all motorists face a traffic ticket from time to time. Who among us hasn’t let the needle creep over the legal speed just in the course of staying with the flow of traffic? Or perhaps when you are running just a little bit late for an important meeting? Here are a few things you can do to lessen your chances of getting a ticket when stopped on the road. Far from promoting unsafe driving practices, following these steps will only increase your safety as well as that of the motorists around you. And they could save you a fair amount of green.

Drive safely

The most important things you can do to avoid getting a ticket is obviously to follow the posted rules of the road. Drive within the speed limit, buckle up your seatbelt, use your signals and leave your cellphone alone.

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Functioning lights

Stay on top of headlights, tail lights and turn signals and make sure they are all working properly. Promptly replace any that are not. A burned out light is a cop magnet.

However, should you get stopped for whatever reason, how you treat the officer could make a big difference.

Be courteous

Police officers are human beings, and we all treat people better if they are polite to us. An officer never knows what he or she may encounter at a traffic stop, so don’t make a tense situation worse by being rude, confrontational or belligerent.

Don’t volunteer too much

You don’t want to lie to an officer, but at the same time, admitting to breaking a law in a plea to get his or her sympathy will only give the officer a solid case if it goes to court.

Police win all arguments

Trying to argue with a police officer at the side of the road will get you ticketed pretty much every time. State your case clearly without admitting guilt. It the officer isn’t buying it, let it go. It’s time to eat the ticket, or challenge it in court. Don’t make the situation worse by defying the officer. Defiance will only be viewed as being uncooperative.

Can you let me go with a warning?

It doesn’t hurt to ask to be let off with a warning, if you do so politely. Don’t beg or plead, it won’t help your case. Letting you off with a warning is a favor on the officer’s part, so approach it that way. And be sure to say thank you if it is granted.


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