A knot of dread forms in your stomach when you see those famous flashing lights behind you: it’s the police, and you’re getting a ticket. Sure, going 55 in a 50 doesn’t sound like a big deal, but those with a history of speeding know most cops don’t play around when it comes to writing tickets — even for first-time offenders.
Fortunately, if you ever find yourself on the side of the road with an angry officer breathing down your neck, these 20 tips for getting pulled over will have you back on the highway in no time. And who knows: these simple rules may actually get you off easy!
1. Be Respectful: You know that old philosophy that being rude and aggressive is the best way to get what you want? Yeah, it doesn’t work. Being respectful only lessens the odds of making the officer angry…
2. Turn Down Your Music: Keeping your music on while being pulled over is a major sign of disrespect, and the ticketing officer will definitely not go easy on you. Even if they look like they’d enjoy a nice ’80s playlist, it’s best to keep “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” to yourself.
3. Stay in the Car: Whatever reason you think you have for getting out of the car, you’re wrong. The officer doesn’t want to see your new shoes, they don’t want to see how many push-ups you can do, and they absolutely don’t want to dance battle. Unless you’re told otherwise, stay in the car.
Reddit / Pathosis
4. Always Use Your Turn Signal: The sight of flashing lights behind you will probably make it hard to think about anything else, but you should always remember to use your blinker when pulling over. You’re already in enough trouble: why cut someone off and get on two bad sides?
5. No Frantic Movements: Though being pulled over is definitely intimidating, the officer is just as concerned with their own safety as you are. A slight drop of the shoulders or any sudden movements may make the officer think you’re trying to hide something… or even reaching for a weapon.
6. Wait to Be Asked For Papers: Having your license and registration out and ready for the officer might seem like a good idea on paper, but the second they see you reaching toward your glove compartment they’ll assume you’re going for a weapon. Besides, do you really want the cop to see your awful license photo so soon?
7. Never Admit Guilt: Being honest might’ve spared you from the time-out corner in kindergarten, but ‘fessing up to a moving violation won’t get you the same leniency. Cops are required to record every interaction they have while on duty, so if you ever try to fight the ticket they can easily pull up the video of your confession.
Skagit Valley Herald
8. Pull Back Into Traffic Cautiously: When all is said and done, you’ll probably do one of two things after getting a ticket: cry, or immediately try to put as much distance between you and the cop as possible. If you go for the latter, make sure you do so cautiously or else you may be seeing that officer again real soon.
9. Turn on Your Car Light: This tip really only applies at night, but allowing the officer a transparent look inside your vehicle regardless of the time of day shows them you have nothing to hide. Of course, if you pull away and continue driving with the light on they’ll probably stop you again for being an absolute lunatic.
10. Don’t Let Passengers Interject: We all have that friend who loves to start trouble, but it’s probably not a good idea to offer them a ride if you’re a frequent speeder. One snarky comment from your passenger and suddenly you’re the one in handcuffs.
11. Sign the Ticket: No, signing your ticket isn’t the equivalent of admitting guilt: it’s simply an acknowledgment that you were present when the violation occurred. You could try refusing, but there’s a good chance it won’t be the only ticket you’re asked to sign that day.
12. Keep Both Hands on the Wheel: It turns out that your parents were onto something when they were screaming “ten and two!” while teaching you to drive. Keep both hands on the wheel, where the officer can see them, and in the event they ask you to do something, make sure to return them to this position immediately afterward.
BC Driving Blog
13. Roll Down the Window Beforehand: When it comes to playing it safe while pulled over, making sure your hands are visible and away from the car door is a must. Sure, the only thing most of us keep in our door compartment is an old water bottle or a few napkins, but better safe than sorry.
14. Turn Your Hazards on if You Can’t Pull Over: Instead of swerving through traffic and causing a ten-car pileup, turn your hazards on if you find you can’t immediately pull over. It’ll also help you avoid a high-speed chase if the officer thinks you’re trying to outrun them.
Chattanooga Times Free Press
15. Give Direct Answers: Being ambiguous and indifferent might’ve worked during your high school goth phase, but that kind of attitude won’t fly while being ticketed. Give the officer short, specific answers.
16. Let The Officer Speak First: It may seem wise to make the first move when it comes to defusing the tension that comes with being pulled over, but any hint of defensiveness will automatically make you even more suspicious. Just flash the officer those pearly whites and maybe they’ll let you off easy.
17. Don’t Keep Cash On Hand: Well, not a lot of it, anyway. Some states have strict civil forfeiture laws that allow officers to confiscate large amounts of cash, meaning that if you’re looking to stock up on lotto tickets for the next big Powerball, you’re better off using a debit card.
18. Don’t Allow a Car Search: Unless the officer has probable cause, it’s illegal to conduct a search of a vehicle without a warrant. Sure, declining the search may sound like something a guilty person would do, but you don’t want to risk someone finding that stash of Nickelback CDs you keep under the seat.
19. Never Admit to Drinking: Even if it was only a little sip, never tell an officer you’ve been drinking. Not only will your chances of appealing the ticket go out the window, but the ticketing officer may even wind up arresting you.
Nashville Criminal Law Court
20. Know Your Rights: Of all the things you can do to prepare for being pulled over, knowing your rights is easily the most important. Not only will this allow you to assess the situation calmly when confronted by an officer, but it will also prevent you from being taken advantage of.